Jennifer J. Capabianco is a Partner in Selman Breitman’s San Francisco office and is a member of the firm’s General Liability, Commercial Litigation, Products Liability, and Trucking and Transportation practice groups. Jennifer represents insured and private businesses, individuals and non-profit organizations in all forms of disputes, including litigation arising from claims of professional negligence, general negligence, rental vehicle disputes, breach of contract, statutory claims, landlord-tenant disputes, fraud, invasion of privacy, discrimination, ADA violations and all other civil disputes. Jennifer’s clients include those working in the field of bodywork, such as massage therapists and aestheticians, whose work is claimed to fall below the standard of care in the industry. She defends trucking companies, whose defense requires knowledge of Federal and State regulations specific to the trucking industry, and also represents private health club clients and other entertainment venues, whose defense specifically involves evaluation of contractual waiver of liability and assumption-of-the-risk clauses.  Jennifer represents rental car company clients with statutory issues specific to that field of business. Her practice also includes representation of various premises owners in claims involving personal injury and wrongful eviction. Jennifer has defended product defect claims on behalf of product manufacturers, such as manufacturers of wine bottles. Jennifer also assists insurers directly on their recovery and subrogation claims. Finally, she serves as General Counsel for the Homeless Veteran's Emergency Housing facility, providing day-to-day legal advice to assist this non-profit organization provide services to veterans in need.

Jennifer's practice includes assisting clients in all stages of litigation. She assists with pre-claim investigation, and helps resolve problems even before claims turn in to litigation. Once litigation is commenced, Jennifer is highly skilled in directing litigation to the most economic and efficient resolution, whether that be at the pleading stage, through summary judgment, through use of the Discovery Act procedures or settlement as soon as possible. Where resolution short of trial is not available, Jennifer is a skilled trial attorney whose rapport with other counsel, the bench and jurors has led to excellent results for her clients.  Jennifer works closely with General Counsel, Claims Representatives, Businesses and Individuals to ensure that the course of action taken always comports with the client's overall economic, business and personal goals. Jennifer is a true service provider, always available to respond to questions and provide advice as needed by her clients. 

Jennifer's particular ability to evaluate complex legal issues, including ones of first impression, and prepare persuasive, high quality legal briefs is evidenced by her record in the Court of Appeal. Jennifer generally finds herself in the Court of Appeal once she obtains judgment in favor of her clients, and the plaintiff appeals. However, all judgments in favor of her clients have been affirmed.  One of Jennifer's published opinions, Rotolo v. San Jose Sports and Entertainment (2007) 151 Cal.App.4th 307, involved the duty of a sports venue to have and use an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED), which was a newer technology at the time. A comparison of the Respondent's Brief Jennifer prepared and argued with the Court's published opinion reveal that the Court accepted Jennifer's arguments practically verbatim. Another of Jennifer's published opinions, Flores v. Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 1055, involved the duty of rental car companies to perform DMV checks on potential renters. Despite the emotional arguments asserted by plaintiffs in that wrongful death case, Jennifer's legal analysis kept the Court of Appeal focused and able to affirm the judgment.

Jennifer is called upon by clients to provide presentations on a wide variety of legal issues, from defending product liability claims to proper analysis of Code of Civil Procedure section 998 Offers to Compromise. She has also been recognized as a "Super Lawyer" and is rated BV+ Distinguished by Martindale-Hubbell.  

Jennifer is originally from New Jersey, was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and presently resides in San Francisco. When not helping clients with their legal needs she spends their time traveling as much as possible to experience the art, food and culture of other regions, domestic and international.  

Representative Matters
Litigation

  • Represented health club in Court of Appeal proceedings after defense verdict obtained at trial on premises liability claims. Trial court result was upheld by Court of Appeal.
  • Defense verdict was obtained on behalf of a major television service supplier against claims of breach of contract related to customer service agreement and pricing.
  • Judgment was obtained in favor of client on a subrogation claim made by client's landlord's insurer for property damage arising out of a fire. Summary judgment was obtained in trial court, and then, during Court of Appeal proceedings, a ruling was issued affirming the summary judgment.
  • Summary judgment was obtained in favor of an event venue in a case in which plaintiff claimed personal injuries as a result of the defective condition of a chair provided by venue.
  • Summary judgment was obtained for a franchisor against personal injury claims made by a customer of franchisee, based upon duties involved in franchisor/franchisee law.
  • Summary judgment was obtained in favor of a client shopping center for personal injury claims due to third-party criminal acts.
  • Summary judgment was obtained in favor of a car repair company by establishing that no repairs performed by client caused or contributed to the subject motor vehicle accident.
  • Summary judgment was obtained in favor of landlord in a rent control jurisdiction by establishing that plaintiff did not have a legal tenancy.
  • In a case involving a significant traumatic brain injury resulting from a truck literally running over and dragging plaintiff in his compact car, resolution was obtained on behalf of client trucking company for significantly less than the policy limits.
  • Defended massage therapists, acupuncturists and other alternative healers against claims that techniques caused personal injury. This case work involves a hybrid of general negligence and professional negligence issues.
  • This case involved interesting facts where our client allegedly intentionally slammed the brakes while test driving a high-end Mercedes at Pebble Beach, when his friend (and later plaintiff) was in the backseat without a seat belt. The plaintiff claimed he suffered a serious back injury as result and sued for battery and negligence with a $1 million demand. We successfully moved for summary adjudication on the battery cause of action. Further, through investigating the plaintiff, we learned his back injury was not nearly as severe as claimed, and that he had two pending criminal actions against him. We used that information to obtain a very favorable settlement result.
  • Summary judgment was obtained in favor of a television entertainment service provider. Assumption of risk precluded a negligence claim for a man who went up into attic space of his own home to assist a technician in pulling cable, and fell through the ceiling.
  • Successfully defended a suit filed in federal court by Mexican nationals who were arrested on charges of illegal importation of a vehicle after crossing the border into Mexico in a rented car. Plaintiffs sued the rental car company, claiming it failed to tell plaintiffs that they would be arrested when crossing the border. Plaintiffs also asserted that the Mexican insurance policy it purchased was inadequate because it did not provide Mexican nationals with a paid defense to the criminal action. Plaintiffs appealed the District Court order dismissing the complaint and entry of judgment in favor of defendants. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.
  • Very favorable settlement of personal injury claim against a popular racetrack was obtained after the jury submitted questions during deliberations suggesting that a defense verdict was likely.
  • Very favorable settlement of claims for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty was obtained on behalf of the manager of a world-famous band just after the jury was empanelled, due to significant defense rulings on motions in limine.
  • While defending a construction company against a plaintiff claiming traumatic brain injury, plaintiff received a "net zero" verdict after trial because the award was less than the worker's compensation lien strategically purchased by the defense.


Published Cases
Litigation

  • Flores v. Enterprise Rent-A-Car Co.

Published opinion in the Court of Appeal upholding trial court's granting of summary judgment on statutory and common law issues of duties of rental car companies.

  • Rotolo v. San Jose Sports and Entertainment, LLC

Published opinion in the Court of Appeal upholding the trial court's order sustaining a demurrer without leave to amend, involving complex statutory interpretation under the Health Code, and dealing with premises liability issues in the context of sporting events.

Ms. Capabianco volunteers her time serving as a Moot Court Judge to assist law school students with their oral advocacy skills.

Professional Associations And Memberships

  • San Francisco Bar Association, Member
  • San Francisco Bar Association Barrister's Club, Litigation Section
  • Association of Defense Counsel of Northern California

​Awards

  • Rated Distinguished® by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Super Lawyers: 2013

Bar Admission

  • California, 1997
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of California
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of California
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit

Education

Santa Clara University School of Law, J.D., 1997

University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1994

With Departmental Honors