Eric Firstman is Chair of the Construction and Facilities Practice and the Public Contracts Practice. He focuses his practice on construction litigation, construction project planning, procurement of professional services and contractors, regulatory compliance and facilities plans. Eric also advises clients on public works contracting matters, including competitive bidding requirements, bid protests, contractor prequalification, solicitation documents, subcontractor issues, and claims resolution.
Before joining Meyers Nave, Eric was a Principal at a construction and real estate law firm in Northern California, where he handled large public and private construction and development matters, complex construction litigation, and virtually every aspect of design and construction projects.
Trial Practice – trial of complex construction disputes to final judgment in state and federal court, jury and court trials, and arbitrations involving commercial facilities, detention facilities, libraries, irrigation and power facilities, college bond programs and wastewater treatment plants.
Special Counsel for Procurement, Negotiation and Contracting on Mega Projects – $3 billion hospital construction and renovation program, covering multiple sites and delivery methods; $1.5 billion airport and seaport expansion covering multiple contracts and delivery methods; $2.4 billion airport expansion covering over 40 contracts.
Construction Law Counsel to Capital Improvement Programs, Bidding, Contracting and Litigation – for water, sanitation, port and hospital districts covering multiple projects exceeding $300 million; for nine separate school districts and community college districts undertaking large bond funded construction programs exceeding $1.5 billion combined value and over 50 separate projects; for the capital improvement programs of over 10 cities and counties on construction projects exceeding $400 million value; for HUD; for housing authorities on HUD and USDA funded construction programs.
- State Highway – After construction delays and more than $10 million of change orders, the contractor on a construction contract to rebuild a state highway filed suit seeking more than $14 million in disputed changes, delays and measured mile lost productivity claims. After three years of litigation and shortly before expert disclosures, CFG secured a summary judgment on the contractor’s affirmative claims for failure to comply with contractual administrative dispute procedures. The matter thereafter settled in judicial settlement conference under CCP §664 with the project owner retaining the contract retention and the contractor receiving zero on its affirmative claims.
- College Building– CFG represented a construction management firm in the successful defense of claims by a contractor on a college facility, securing a dismissal with prejudice after filing a summary judgment based on the contractor’s deposition testimony. When the contractor then filed new, assigned claims against the construction management firm, the matter settled after trial continuance for less than 10% of the remaining co-defendant’s settlement amount, amounting to approximately 98% of the demand.
- Wastewater Treatment Plant – CFG represented the public owner of a wastewater treatment plant in a case involving the negligent design of a tertiary filtration treatment system, which resulted in poor plant performance, plant closures, and lost revenues. CFG obtained a $2.2 million jury verdict for the client.
- Reservoir Construction – CFG represented a public owner of a reservoir in defense of $14 million in claims for delay, differing site conditions, extended overhead and lost productivity damages. The case involved more than 30 depositions and 32 days of hearing testimony from more than 20 witnesses. Although the initial award granted the contractor approximately 25% of the amounts claimed, the superior court declined to confirm. The matter was remanded for further findings on the project owner’s objections regarding pre-litigation claim requirements and the California Contractor’s License Law. CFG won a complete defense in this case.
- Hospital Project – CFG represented a hospital owner in disputes following a default termination of a design-build contractor on a $290 million, multi-phase, hospital construction project. The case required more than 50 depositions and 20 full days of hearing testimony from more than 40 witnesses. The final award denied $130 million in contractor claims for lost profits and extra work.
- Bridge Dispute – CFG represented a public owner in a bridge construction project by navigating the owner through the general contractor’s default and termination for cause at the midpoint of construction, recovering over $450,000 in a settlement with the performance bond surety for the completion of the project by a replacement contractor, and then defending against over $2.0 million in various claims asserted against the owner. After three years of litigation, the CFG team defended against all claims and affirmatively recovered an additional $935,000 for the owner in settlement for a total recovery of over $1.38 million, approximately 95% of the original $1.44 million construction bid amount.
Honors and Awards
- Northern California Super Lawyers list: Construction Litigation, Super Lawyers Magazine, 2007-2019
- “Super Lawyer: Corporate Counsel,” Super Lawyers Magazine, 2008-2013
- AV Preeminent rating, Martindale-Hubbell (“Legal Leaders: Construction Law,” The American Lawyer and Corporate Counsel)
Presentations and Publications
- Presenter, “Public Contracting Requirements and Competitive Bidding in California,” Meyers Nave and Lorman Education Services seminars throughout California, 2017, 2018, 2019
- Author, “Public Contract Code Section 9204: New Challenges for Drafting and Administering Public Works Contracts,” Meyers Nave Client Alert, 2017
- Author, “California Supreme Court Decision Provides Guidance for Identifying and Avoiding Section 1090 Conflicts in Public Contracting and Procurement,” Meyers Nave Client Alert, 2017
- Presenter, “SB 465: New Reporting Requirements and Working Group Studies,” County Counsels’ Association Fall Public Works and Contracts Study Section Conference, 2017
- Presenter, “Evolving Standards for Expert Testimony and Hearsay: Proving Damages and Lost Profits,” Construction Lawyers Society of America Conference, 2017
- Presenter, “Planning for, and Defending Against, Public Works’ Contractor Claims in California,” Lorman Education Services webinar, 2017
- Author, “SB 465 Has Major Impact on Construction Industry,” California Constructor, May/June 2017
- Presenter, “Planning for, and Defending Against, Public Works’ Contractor Claims,” Lorman Education Services webinar, 2016
- Presenter, “Current Issues On Bidding, Contracting and Claims on CaliforniaPublic Works Contracts,” Lorman Education Services webinar, 2015
- Presenter, “Public Law: Handling Contractor Claims on Public Works Construction Projects,” The State Bar of California 88th Annual Meeting, 2015
- Presenter, “Public Contract Code Requirements and Competitive Bidding,” Lorman Education Services Seminar, 2013
- Presenter, School of Trial Advocacy, Stanford Law School, 2007-2013
- Presenter, “Public Contract Code Requirements and Competitive Bidding in California,” Lorman Educational Services, 2002-2013
- Presenter, “The Emerging Trend of CM-At Risk on Public Procurements,” Construction Superconference, 2009
- Presenter, “Construction Contracting for Public Entities,” Lorman Educational Services, 1993-2004
- Presenter, “Construction Liens in California,” Lorman Educational Services, 1992-1996
- Presenter, “Title 24 Challenges for Hospital Construction/Renovation,” California State Bar Association, 2006
- Author, “Real Property Law and Debtor-Creditor Relations in California,” Standard Forms of California Jury Instructions on Construction Contracts, Matthew Bender Co.
- Author, “Supreme Court Bars Civil Rights Claims Arising from Withheld Payments on Public Works Contracts,” The Construction Lawyer, Vol. 21, No. 4, Fall, 2001
- Member, The State Bar of California
- Charter Fellow and Advisory Board Member, Construction Lawyers Society of America
- Member, Associated General Contractors of California
- Member, Forum Committee on the Construction Industry
- Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
- University of California, Hastings College of the LawJD, 1983
- University of California at Los AngelesBA, Political Science, 1980