William J. Caplan has been a full-time neutral since 2001 and has successfully handled over 1500 civil matters. During his 22 years a trial lawyer, he specialized primarily in real estate, business, and construction litigation matters. Bill received formal mediation training from Harvard Law School and Pepperdine University’s Straus Institute. His enthusiasm for private dispute resolution has led him to author numerous articles. He served as an adjunct professor at the Chapman University School of Law, teaching mediation.
Known for having a very high settlement rate, Bill comes to each mediation thoroughly prepared and determined to work with the parties no matter how long it takes. One attorney commented, “He has excellent bedside manner, pushes when people need to be pushed, pulls when they need to be pulled, and uses his own experience in business litigation to try and make the pie bigger so people can get a resolution done.” Another prominent attorney noted that “he demonstrated a great grasp of the facts right off the bat, and because of his background, Bill understands other motivations at play in disputes, like preserving a relationship with a customer or keeping peace between partners.”
In his spare time, Bill is involved with his church, enjoys spending time with his family, backpacking, playing basketball, coaching sports and attending sporting events.
"He demonstrated a great grasp of the facts right off the bat, and because of his background Bill understandds other motivations at play in disputes, like preserving a relationship with a customer or keeping peace between partners."
- Attorney on a Business Dispute
I just wanted to thank [him] again for [his] exceptional effort at the day long mediation. I was really impressed by [his] skills and unrelenting dedication to achieving a settlement for these to family members who were extremely emotional about past events. A tip of my hat to [him] for a job well done!!
- Plaintiff attorney on a real property breach of contract dispute
$2,000,000 dispute between manufacturer and insurer for business interruption against insurer that denied coverage under policy arising out of business shut down based on delivery of contaminated product by manufacturer’s sole supplier.
$1,000,000 insurance bad faith lawsuit over insurer’s refusal to pay on fire insurance policy.
BREACH OF CONTRACT
$2,000,000 breach of fiduciary duty disputes between investors in real estate limited partnerships against shopping center syndicator based on claims of non-disclosure of material facts regarding failed shopping center investments.
$12,500,000 lease dispute between investment trust and international conglomerate.
$7,500,000 dispute for specific performance and damages involving a 20-acre parcel in San Bernardino, California.
$5,000,000 action for specific performance and damages regarding seller’s alleged breach of contract to sell parcel of property to national discount warehouse retailer.
Dispute between owner and lessee regarding rights in radio transmission tower.
Dispute between investors in a real estate partnership against a national title insurance company/escrow company based on claims that escrow improperly distributed proceeds of sale of condominiums to managing partners contrary to the vesting instructions given to escrow.
Reciprocal easement dispute between an Orange County real estate developer and a national hardware big box chain regarding obligations under a development agreement.
Dispute over valuation methodology (inclusion or exclusion of 20 years of infra-structure built by ground lessee) for large parcel in Riverside County.
Dispute between national restaurant tenant and regional shopping center owner regarding covenant precluding shopping center owner’s construction in parking area and restrictive covenant against competing uses.
Dispute between landlord/owner of retail parcel against national chain lessee for specific performance of a build to suit lease.
$3,000,000 dispute between managing member and minority member for managing member’s diversion of “partnership opportunities” in out of state shopping centers.
Commission disputes between commercial broker and national chain retailers (three separate cases).
$12,000,000 lawsuit between international real estate developers regarding alleged interference with contract involving prime Newport Beach condominium development project.
$500,000 damages claim for fraud involving failure to include indispensable party to an apparently executed purchase and sale agreement for residential property. Lease dispute involving claims of Lease termination for code violations and constructive eviction regarding business premises.
$3,000,000 personal injury trip and fall case against public entities where trip caused diabetic middle-aged man to lose his left leg.
CONSTRUCTION BREACH OF CONSTRACT
$1,000,000 construction dispute between public entity and contractor re construction of recreational fields and stadium including claims of “found conditions”, extra work claims, inadequate construction in variance with the approved plans and specifications and cross-claims for changes of the work during construction and vague and inadequate coordination by the public entity’s supervisorial representative.
$700,000 construction disbursement dispute on major bonded construction projects.
$500,000 lawsuit regarding claimed non-performance of contract to grade, pave and provide curbs for a residential development.
$450,000 construction dispute regarding owner’s failure to execute change orders and pay for extra work under bridge construction contact.
$500,000 construction defect lawsuit regarding owner-builder’s failure to construct custom home in conformity with builder’s standard of care.
$1,000,000 dispute for non-disclosed defects in residential property, including nature and extent of poorly compacted fill and resultant damage.
$50,000,000 dispute between City and 73 sets of homeowners, insurers and other intervenors in landslide/subsidence action regarding development of Orange County development tract homes.
$10,000,000 dispute between 40 sets of homeowners, and developer, lenders, contractor and subcontractors based on construction defects in a housing tract built in California.
$9,600,000 breach of fiduciary duty dispute between minority member and managing member of LLC regarding managing member’s sale of the LLC property.
$100,000,000 dispute between Internet e-mail provider and Internet portal operator for breach of contract.
HOME OWNERS ASSOCIATION
Noise dispute involving tenant of adjoining HOA properties.
$2 million rental dispute regarding past due rent and need for extension of lease for business operations of tenant.
Injunction disputes (2) involving landlord’s efforts to restrain national chain jewelry store/national fast food tenant from discontinuing operations in violation of continuous operations lease provision.
Dispute between landlord and tenant/manufacturer of industrial building based on non-payment of rent and failure to dispose of hazardous materials.
Dispute between shopping center owner and national lender regarding the reasonableness of lender’s withholding of consent to a proposed amendment to a ground lease, based on interpretation of a non-disturbance, subordination and attornment agreement.
Several disputes between landlords and tenants regarding the accuracy of tenant’s reporting of gross sales for purposes of percentage rent calculations.
Dispute between landlord and tenant for termination of long-term car wash lease based on leaks in gasoline storage tanks, claimed inadequate remediation efforts and violations of law.
$2,000,000 dispute between office building owner and lessee/lender regarding obligation to replace dilapidated capital improvements.
Dispute between ground lessor and ground lessee regarding appraisal methodology, whether shopping center should be appraised as a whole or as several individual odd-shaped parcels.
Several disputes between parties to reciprocal easement agreements regarding rights to build or make other changes within common areas of shopping centers.
Dispute involving shopping center developer against commercial business operator and recovery of restitution for value of destruction of business.
$5,000,000 wrongful death/auto lawsuit between plaintiff and civil engineering defendant accused of negligent design of drainage system for roadway.
Wrongful death claim arising out of police shooting.
Full-time Mediator, Judicate West (2018-Present)
Mediator (2001 to 2018)
Los Angeles Superior Court ADR Program (2001-2013)
Settlement Officer, Orange County Superior Court (1990-Present)
Of Counsel, Rutan & Tucker (2001-2018)
Partner, Rutan & Tucker, specializing in real estate, business, construction, and land valuation disputes (1985-2001)
Associate, Rutan & Tucker (1979 – 1984)
Caplan & Caplan, specializing in business and real estate litigation (1978-1979)
Education & Professional Affiliations
J.D., University of California Los Angeles School of Law (1978)
B.A., University of California of Los Angeles, Dean’s Honor List (1975)
Mediation Certificate, Harvard University Program for Lawyers, Harvard Law School (2004)
Mediating the Litigated Case, Pepperdine Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution (2002)
Adjunct Professor-Mediation, Chapman University School of Law (August 2006 – 2014)
Member, American Business Trial Lawyers (ABTL) (2000-Present)
Mediation Certificate, Center for Community Mediation (1993)
Member, Central and Eastern District, U.S. District Court
Achievements & Awards
AV Rated by Martindale Hubbell (1985-Present)
Recipient, Wiley Manual Award for Pro Bono Legal Services (1992)
MCLE Presenter: Taking Control of Your Disputes – The Inside Scoop, (2018)
MCLE Presenter: 998 Offers (2018)
MCLE Presenter: Ethics in Mediation (2016)
All Types of Real Estate including Property Evaluation, Easement Disputes, Commercial Landlord-Tenant, Inverse Condemnation, HOA
Multiple ADA law disputes involving claimed failures to build out offices and restaurants in accordance with ADA requirements.
ADA claims requiring business establishments to retrofit to meet ADA requirements and for recovery of attorney’s fees.
$3,000,000 claim among family members against managing member for misappropriation of unequal share of rents and profits.
$2,000,000 breach of license dispute between retailer and distributer.
$600,000 dispute over commission due on lost sales of specialized merchandise that was either lost or converted.
International distribution agreement dispute.
Equipment loan guarantee dispute.
$1,000,000 indemnity agreement between mortgage broker and lender under agreement for purchase of residential loan bundles. Multiple broker/insurer cases of this variety.
Law partnership dissolution disputes (2).
Multiple Contract dispute between mortgage loan brokerage firm and mortgage lender.
Dispute between shopping center buyer and seller regarding failure to disclose tenant’s ten-year option to extend lease at below market rent.
The claimant sought substantial fees and costs in defending a patent infringement lawsuit, for which it claimed rights to full express indemnity under a form agreement between a lender and one of its independent contractors. There were multiple complex express indemnity issues involved.
$500,000 claim for fraud, misrepresentation and alter ego claims arising out of a commercial loan transaction where the plaintiffs claimed that the defendants had commingled funds and used the loan for personal expenses contrary to the contract between the parties.
Multiple Lemon law cases involving cars, trucks and RVs.
Multiple Lemon law cases involving (RV’s, Trucks and Autos] repeated attempted repairs, rescission claims and claims for attorneys’ fees.
Construction Breach Of Contract
Public Works/School District construction defect/contract administration dispute.
$500,000 construction defect lawsuit involving foundation defects on custom residence.
Medical building construction defect dispute.
Industrial building construction dispute.
Resort property construction dispute.
Construction Delay Claims
$380,000 construction contract dispute involving claims of delay, misunderstanding of plans and specifications, and excessive damages claims.
Breach of Contract
$500,000 employment dispute under commission agreement for departed executive salesman.
Employment claims arising out of closure and resale of hospital.
Employment dispute involving sexual harassment and wage and hour claims against a public entity.
Wage and Hour
Multiple wage and hour lawsuits brought by individuals and groups of employees vs. private companies and public entities.
Wage and Hour Class Action
$10,000,000 class action claims for wages, hours, overtime and attorneys’ regarding alleged commissioned employees.
Dozens of hostile work environment and wrongful termination, and failure to accommodate work restrictions, in violation of public policy disputes.
Trademark dispute regarding golf equipment.
$4 million dispute among family members and business partners over rights after death of business founder, including claims of breach of fiduciary duty and accounting.
$500,000 dispute among family members regarding undue influence on parent resulting in unequal distribution of family property.
Professional Malpractice Legal
Malpractice claim asserting that defendants had failed to pay for forensic and medical experts resulting in devaluation of plaintiff’s underlying personal injury claim.
Breach Of Contract
Numerous shopping center/industrial lessors’ actions for breach of lease and for prejudgment writ of attachment after lessees’ abandonment of leasehold premises.
Hospital purchase and sale dispute.
Dispute between parties over competing claims to residential rental property.
Multiple specific performance actions for recovery of real property under contract (commercial and residential) and related claims of non-disclosures by brokers and sellers and disputes over down-payments/liquidated damages claims.
Real estate non-disclosure involving exclusive Orange County real property including contract, fraud and negligence misrepresentation allegations. Two high profile Orange County law firms involved. Very large amount in controversy and included a battle over attorneys fee.
Prescriptive easement dispute involving adjoining landowners and immediate Seller of the property.
Home Owners Association
Multiple adjoining property owners’ disputes many of which involved HOA’s.
Dispute between upper and lower HOA property owners regarding overgrowth of shrubbery and view impairment.
Hundreds of eviction actions based on non-payment of rent and other lease charges. Also, dozens of disputes involving tenants’ abandonment and liability for lease payments under CC 1951.2, etc.
Numerous disputes between landlords and tenants regarding landlords/tenants’ obligations to repair leasehold property and to restore property at lease expiration.
Lawsuit for waste by tenant for failure to maintain restaurant building and foundation over long term business lease.
$500,000 tort claim for property damage against utility for power pole failure.
$1,000,000 dispute regarding forged deeds and attempt to take over property by strangers from family member, heir.
Dispute regarding the right of a tenant to maintain a commercial dock adjacent to neighbor’s residential property.
Wrong foreclosure lawsuit involving borrower, lender, sale trustee, auctioneer and bona fide purchaser at trustee’s sale. Handled overtime wage and hour claim involving police officers and city.
Settled personal injury case involving wheelchair bound plaintiff and bus/public entity.
Approximately 100 mediations and settlement conferences involving auto vs. auto personal injury claims.
$1,000,000 personal injury case involving for head and neck injuries caused by allegedly defective doors in concrete tilt-up warehouse.
Personal injury lawsuit regarding improperly installed motorized gate.