Tana Coates featured in California Lawyer

February 18, 2013

Tana Coates was featured in the article "What advice would you give to a new attorney?" in California Lawyer. An excerpt:

Being an attorney should be about this question: How am I going to be impact people's lives? I think it's a high calling - I feel that very strongly. Take it very seriously and recognize your purpose. If you're doing it right, you're going to be a leader in your community, and you're going to be someone who makes a difference in someone else's life.

Click here to read the full article.



Construction Defect Case Study

September 25, 2012

Coates & Coates LLP recently obtained a settlement on behalf of a public entity involving a defectively constructed building. In 2000, the public entity entered into a contract with the general contractor for the construction of a 90,000 square foot, four-story building. The building was completed in April, 2005. Upon occupancy, the public entity began noticing significant defects with the fire alarm/sensor system, the heating and air conditioning system, and in the installation of drywall throughout the building. Ultimately, a lawsuit was commenced by the public entity against the general contractor and the independent inspector.

In May, 2012, the public entity reached a settlement agreement with the general contractor and its subcontractors for $2,000,000. The remainder of the case is pending against the independent inspector.



Elder Abuse Case Study 2

September 25, 2012

Coates & Coates LLP recently obtained a judgment in favor of a senior citizen who is the victim of financial elder abuse committed by a licensed general contractor. The Plaintiff, a 75-year old independently wealthy woman, lived on a ranch in rural Paso Robles. She had previously hired the licensed general contractor to perform various construction services at her ranch, including the construction of a tennis court. These construction services started in September, 2004 and continued into April, 2007. During that period of time, the Plaintiff paid the contractor and his company nearly $500,000 for their services.

In June, 2007, the contractor claimed that the Plaintiff contacted him at 2:00 a.m. complaining that her cattle had wandered onto her tennis court and were damaging it. In the same conversation, the contractor claimed that the Plaintiff requested that his company return to perform further work at her ranch. The contractor claimed that he was reluctant to return because of other ongoing jobs. According to the contractor, he was convinced to return to the ranch only after the Plaintiff offered him a $100,000, non-refundable "retainer," to guarantee his exclusive services.

The contractor returned to the ranch and began performing services in early June, 2007 but only after he had been paid $50,000 of the $100,000 retainer. The contractor thereafter claimed to have performed services in June, July and August of 2007, charging the Plaintiff over $158,000. This amount was not billed against the retainer provided by the Plaintiff.

In 2008, when the Plaintiff had not paid the contractor, he filed suit against her in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court, seeking in excess of $200,000 plus attorney's fees and interest. Also in 2008, a conservatorship was appointed for the Plaintiff because of her inability to manage her financial affairs. It was discovered at this time that the Plaintiff had been making a series of extraordinary gifts to individuals totaling several million dollars. A conservatorship was ultimately appointed because it was determined the Plaintiff was not competent to enter into contracts.

Despite the conservatorship and the medical evidence of her incompetency, the contractor proceeded in his lawsuit against the Plaintiff, seeking to recover the amount he claimed to be owed for his company's services in addition to the balance allegedly owed on the $100,000 retainer. A cross-complaint was filed against the contractor and his company for financial elder abuse as a result of their extraction of $50,000 from the Plaintiff as one half of the retainer.

The matter went to trial in 2010. In February, 2011, the Court issued its ruling, holding that Plaintiff did not have the legal capacity to enter into contracts in June, 2007, and that this should have been readily apparent to the contractor. The Court also found that the alleged contract for the retainer provided no benefit to the Plaintiff and that the contractor, since it did not have workers' compensation insurance, was considered to be an unlicensed contractor. The Court ordered that the contractor and his company return money it had been paid by the Plaintiff in 2007. The Court entered a judgment in favor of the Plaintiff against the contractor's company in the amount of $131,075, and against the contractor in the amount of $124,104.95, holding that both the contractor and his company had engaged in financial elder abuse for their bad faith conduct.


Elder Abuse Case Study

June 13, 2012

Coates & Coates LLP recently obtained a judgment in favor of a senior citizen who was the victim of financial elder abuse. The plaintiff, an 86 year-old retired physician and WWII veteran, is an avid collector of stamps and coins since he was a child. Over time, he created a valuable collection worth over $500,000. In May 2010, the plaintiff suffered from health problems which required hospitalization as well as in-home care. Upon his discharge from the hospital, his family arranged for in-home care by a local home care agency.

One of the primary reasons the family hired the agency was because it advertised that it performed "complete criminal background checks" on all of its employees. The home care employee assigned to the plaintiff was hired by the agency just three days before he was sent to the plaintiff's home. The owner of the agency failed to ensure that a comprehensive criminal background check was performed on this new hire. The agency failed to discover that it was the first time the individual had worked as a home health care aide, and failed to discover the multiple prior criminal convictions the employee had for receiving stolen property and for possession of a controlled substance. The prior offenses had occurred in San Luis Obispo County, and one offense happened just two months prior to individual's employment with the agency. The agency also did not discover that the employee was a heroin addict, even though the employee was in a relationship with another agency employee who had worked for the agency for some time.

The employee started working at the plaintiff's rural home in June, 2010, and within two weeks, began stealing and pawning many of the plaintiff's personal belongings. The employee was able to find the combination to a gun safe and started stealing the valuable stamps and coins that plaintiff had collected for most of his life. The employee was also absent for six weeks during the summer of 2010 from his employment at the plaintiff's residence, allegedly due to "personal reasons." During this time the agency failed to discover that the employee was actually incarcerated in the San Luis Obispo County jail for a probation violation as a result of one of his prior convictions. The agency allowed the employee to return to the plaintiff's home in September, 2010, and once again he began stealing and pawning the plaintiff's possessions. The employee continued to work at the plaintiff's home until December, 2010, when he resigned.

In January, 2011, it was discovered that the plaintiff's entire stamp and coin collection, as well as other priceless heirlooms had been stolen from his residence by the employee of the agency. The employee was prosecuted and convicted of burglary in June, 2011. The plaintiff sued the agency on theories of negligent misrepresentation, fraud, negligent hiring, negligent supervision and retention. The agency admitted negligence before trial and the Court awarded damages to the plaintiff in the amount of $666,501.


"Hot Coffee" Trailer

June 28, 2011


What's New in Tort and Trial

January 3, 2011

Tana L. Coates is a presenter for the "What's New in Tort and Trial: 2010 The Year in Review." She will be one of several panel members to present in San Luis Obispo, Ventura, and Fresno. The annual three-hour program provides continuing legal education to members of the Bar statewide. Ms Coates will be presenting on January 19th in San Luis Obispo, January 25th in Ventura, and February 2nd in Fresno.


Introducing Michele Healey

February, 2010

Coates & Coates LLP hires paralegal, Michele Healy. Michele has 17 years of experience, primarily as a litigation paralegal. Ms. Healy can be contacted at our office (805) 540-5052.


Eight Cases You Must Know

November, 2009

Ms. Coates, as President of the Central Coast Trial Lawyers Association, holds a seminar for continuing legal education credit and moderated a panel of attorneys who discussed the "Eight cases you must know to be a successful trial attorney." Mr. Coates, and local attorneys Jay Hieatt and Nigel Whitehead were also panel members.


Coates & Coates LLP Chosen as Local Panel Counsel

November, 2009

Coates & Coates LLP is chosen as local panel counsel for the County of San Luis Obispo to represent the County in tort actions.