william k. koska of counsel resume
William K. ( Bill ) Koska has done trial work and litigation for over three decades in Southern California. For the past 35 years, Mr. Koska’s practice has focused on litigation involving all aspects of real estate, as well as issues concerning land, water, environmental and toxic tort litigation. He has handled matters involving CERCLA, CEQA, Clean Air Act, Proposition 65, asbestos and related cases, federal and state safe drinking water laws, air quality issues for a variety of clients both large and small, and construction contract issues.
Beginning with the Big Rock Mesa landslide cases in 1987, Mr. Koska has been involved with defending and prosecuting, respectively, eminent domain and inverse condemnation cases on behalf of developers, businesses and individuals. He was the lead attorney for American States Water Co., a NYSE company, in the landmark case Hartwell v Superior Court, (2002) 27 Cal.4th 256. At the same time, he was lead counsel for American States in the case of American States v State of California alleging inverse condemnation by the State for the contamination of his clients’ water wells in Sacramento.
Since coming to San Diego some 22 years ago, Mr. Koska has represented individuals and companies involving disputes with city and county authorities regarding permitting and code enforcement. This has gone hand-in-hand with his real estate and environmental background. His trial experience, coupled with environmental and real estate expertise, has enabled him to be an effective advocate in matters involving state, county and city permitting authorities.
He has also represented developers, subcontractors and individuals in real estate matters involving environmental issues including asbestos, mold, boundary disputes, quiet title, partition, lease disputes and related issues. In addition, his work includes negotiating construction contracts for large companies nationwide.
Mr. Koska has been AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell for more than 35 years. Since 2013 through 2017, he has been named as a Top Attorney by San Diego Magazine in the areas of Real Estate and Land Use. In 2016 and 2017, he was the only lawyer rated tops in those particular categories.
As a result of the heavy rains of the late-1970s and early-1980s, Mr. Koska developed expertise in the area of flooding damage and landslide issues. As a consequence, he represented numerous developers and individual homeowners in spectacular hillside settings, and beach-front property owners who were involved in litigation from landslide/flooding damage.
EXPERIENCE AND SPECIAL QUALIFICATIONS
Mr. Koska’s background with toxic torts spans 35 years. He first handled an aplastic anemia case involving inhalation of insecticides in 1977 and 1978. In the late-1970s and throughout the 1980s, Mr. Koska was involved in handling matters having to do with asbestosis, the early days of mold, inhalation of benzene, and various other products alleged to cause lung disorders, including leukemia and aplastic anemia.
Mr. Koska has handled product liability matters for a variety of clients, including Sunbeam Corporation, Northern Electric, Biddeford Blankets, Oster, Murray-Ohio, Caterpillar, International Harvester, Navistar, Ciba, McKesson Corporation, Johns-Manville, Sparkletts Drinking Water, Presley Homes, and many others. The cases have ranged from serious burn injuries to inhalation of asbestos, mold or cancer-causing chemicals, loss of body parts and death.
While practicing in Los Angeles for 23 years, Mr. Koska represented entertainers, recording artists and corporate clients in the television and motion picture industry. A short list of the clients he has represented include Jon Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, singer/songwriter Olivia Newton-John, Aaron Spelling, Spelling-Goldberg Productions, producer Alan Landsburg and “That’s Incredible!,” entertainer Danny Thomas, actor Beau Bridges, producer Doug Cramer, famed divorce attorney Marvin Mitchelson, and many others. The cases have been brought on a variety of different theories, aggressively litigated and resulted in favorable resolutions in every instance including jury verdicts.
Bill Koska has been an avid horseman for over 30 years. He competed in hunter- jumper competition in his early years, and later did 3-day eventing for several seasons. He has also been a member of the Santa Fe Hounds Hunt Club for over 16 years and was field master for the club on numerous occasions.
He has negotiated and brought to conclusion numerous issues and claims between horse people, and drafted the documents necessary to finish the process. He has represented horse owners, stable owners, purchasers and sellers of horses, veterinarians and injured persons in numerous cases for both plaintiffs and defendants. He has represented clients against insurance companies, and advised clients about their rights against insurance companies. He has litigated against the USEF and represented owners of horses against alleged doping allegations.
The following brief history is illustrative:
In 1976, following the California Supreme Court’s historic finding of comparative fault statewide in Li v. Yellow Cab, Mr. Koska tried the first California case resulting in a published opinion involving a percentage finding of comparative fault. In Rangel v. Graybar Electric Co., the appellate court upheld a finding of 95% fault on the part of the plaintiff; Mr. Koska represented the defendant in the matter.
Mr. Koska defended Dial Corporation in litigation by 100 plaintiffs stemming from a chlorine tank explosion. He successfully prosecuted the responsible parties for Dial and recovered a seven figure settlement.
He served as lead counsel defending more than 200 plaintiffs sued as cross-defendants in a cross-complaint filed by the County of Los Angeles and the State of California following landslides in Malibu, California along the Pacific Coast Highway in the area called Big Rock. The homeowners obtained settlements totaling $95 million.
In 1991, Mr. Koska tried the first of many cases pending against Sunbeam Corp. around the United States for burns and fire damage due to allegedly defective design and manufacture of electric blankets, alleging punitive damages based upon some 500 alleged prior fires. After plaintiffs turned down a large offer, the jury returned a verdict of 50% fault to the plaintiff and a 5-figure verdict for plaintiff, despite his multiple surgeries for 3rd degree burns. The remaining cases thereafter settled.
For over ten years, beginning in 1997 and culminating in the summer of 2007, Mr. Koska served as lead defense counsel for American States Water Company in the successful defense of tort cases involving allegations by 3,000 plaintiffs of ingestion of contaminated water over a 20-year period. All cases were dismissed in favor of Mr. Koska’s client on motion in Los Angeles and in Sacramento, following remand from the California Supreme Court in Hartwell v. Superior Court (2002). The cases in Sacramento were not appealed.
The cases in Los Angeles were appealed, and the landmark opinion rendered on August 24, 2007, In Re: Groundwater Cases, affirmed the dismissal in favor of Mr. Koska’s client. The ruling confirmed that California has a safe harbor for PUC- regulated water utilities against suit as long as the utilities are in compliance with all federal and state safe drinking water laws.
During the same time frame, Mr. Koska prosecuted cases against the State of California and Aerojet General Corp. for contaminating American States’ well fields in Sacramento. The cases resulted in settlements valued at over $100 million.
A highly sought-after speaker, Mr. Koska has shared his experience in groundwater litigation with a number of national and regional industry associations, including the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), the Southeast Regional Water Purveyors Association, the National Conference of Regulatory Attorneys and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC).
Following his presentation at the 2008 annual meeting of the NARUC Committee on Water, the NARUC Board of Directors adopted a resolution encouraging states to consider legislation or regulations that would provide a safe harbor from liability for water purveyors providing water in compliance with federal and state drinking water standards, similar to the California safe harbor confirmed by In Re: Groundwater Cases.