Mr. Stevens specializes in local government liability and defense, product liability, asbestos and toxic tort defense as well as insurance defense. His clients include state and local government agencies such as school districts, state parks and fairgrounds, public utilities and police departments. He has also successfully represented manufacturers of playground equipment.
A third-generation attorney, Mr. Stevens understands the importance of dedication and professionalism in the practice of law. He is a life-long competitive athlete and a former U.S. Marine who is driven to vigorously and aggressively represent clients at all levels of litigation.
Prior to practicing law, Mr. Stevens was a multiple lines liability adjuster with a major insurance company in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has trial experience in all phases of defense practice and regularly serves as a judicial arbitrator and bench/bar panelist having handled hundreds of mediations and arbitrations.
Recent successes include a defense verdict for a self-insured manufacturer in a product liability case involving severe head injuries to a minor. Also, he won a difficult summary judgment for a local school district in a nationally-reported case that ultimately reached the California Supreme Court, and in which more than $80,000 in fees and costs were recovered for the client.
Mr. Stevens has practiced law in the San Francisco Bay area for more than thirty-seven years. He received his B.A. in history and English from Northwestern University in 1962 and a juris doctor degree from Lincoln University at San Francisco in 1972. He was admitted to the California bar in 1973.
For recreation he runs, plays golf and breeds and shows champion Airedales and Welsh terriers in major American Kennel Club competitions throughout the country. His dogs have won top honors in the famed Westminster and Montgomery County shows.
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Mr. Gifford concentrates on asbestos and toxic tort defense, construction defect and accidents, product liability and environmental regulatory matters. A veteran litigator who directs assignments and handles client relations for the firm, Mr. Gifford’s aim is to give every client all-star service, skillful representation and maximum results at a reasonable price.
Mr. Gifford obtained defense verdicts at trial for some of the earliest asbestos lawsuits on behalf of a supplier of amphibole asbestos. Over the years he obtained many more defense verdicts in the crucible of the California asbestos litigation. That experience plus an innate talent for cross-examination have led to positive results for our clients.
Mr. Gifford has maintained a defense practice for more than thirty years and is Martindale-Hubbell AV rated. He graduated magna cum laude and received a bachelor of arts in political science from California State University, Hayward in 1975. He received a juris doctor degree from University of San Diego School of Law in 1978 where he conducted field research and co-authored a law review article funded by a National Science Foundation grant. Admitted to the State Bar of California in 1979, Mr. Gifford served on its Committee on Administration of Justice from 1981-83. He is a member of Contra Costa County Bar Association and the Defense Research Institute.
Mr. Gifford enjoys hiking, kayaking and bird watching and is a member of several environmental groups. He is also an avid baseball fan and a founding member of a monthly book group now in its fifteenth year.
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Ms. Gifford specializes in construction accident and defect litigation and general product liability defense. She has also achieved success in plaintiff personal injury cases. Prior to joining Stevens, Drummond & Gifford, she was a partner in a statewide insurance defense firm and senior associate in a Los Angeles construction defect firm.
Ms. Gifford successfully sued a national chain store on behalf of a young female employee who was raped at gunpoint by a disgruntled former employee who had been targeting young women at store closing. To obviate the Labor Code bar, she alleged an inventive civil rights cause of action. The employer defendant settled for six-figures on the eve of hearing summary judgment on the Labor Code bar. She and her partner also obtained policy limits settlements in a products liability case where plaintiff’s hand passed beneath an inadequate guard and entered the in-rolling feed of an industrial printer-slotter. Plaintiff’s hand was degloved and later reconstructed using his latissimus muscles, skin grafts and surgical amputation of his big toe to reconstruct a “thumb” and physical pinch point on his hand.
As managing partner, Ms. Gifford monitors the firm’s time and cost entries to assure accuracy, reasonableness and compliance with clients’ individual billing criteria. She also oversees the preparation of complex writing assignments such as critical motions, trial and appellate briefs.
Ms. Gifford has practiced law in the San Francisco Bay area for more than twenty-six years. She received a B.A. in international communications from the University of Washington in 1981 and a juris doctor degree from McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific in 1984 and was admitted the same year to the California bar. She is also admitted to practice before the federal district courts and is a member of the Defense Research Institute and the Contra Costa County Bar Association.
Ms. Gifford studies yoga and in December 2009 completed an eighteen month advanced studies course. She also volunteers at several charitable organizations including an animal wildlife hospital.
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After having worked as a litigation associate at an insurance defense firm, Ms. Nelson has been of counsel to Stevens, Drummond & Gifford since 1991, specializing in asbestos defense and construction defect defense. She is responsible for plaintiff and expert depositions for the firm’s most complex asbestos and toxic tort cases. Ms. Nelson’s ability to size up a deponent, coupled with her deposition skills, often elicits testimony undermining plaintiff’s case and highly favorable to our client’s defense.
Ms. Nelson is a former teacher who succeeded with “tough cases” in a continuation high school before becoming an attorney. Now she applies her self-confidence and sense of humor to triumph in equally-challenging depositions and in court.
Ms. Nelson has practiced law in the San Francisco Bay area for more than twenty-five years. She received her bachelor of arts in history from the University of California at Berkeley in 1973. After earning a juris doctor degree from San Francisco Law School in 1985, she was admitted to the California bar. She also holds a teaching credential from California State University at Chico.
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Ms. Susan Welles Truax provides invaluable support to our attorneys in complex toxic tort cases. These document intensive matters are efficiently handled by Ms. Truax as she organizes historical documents, public entity records and maintains our extensive library of expert testimony used for impeachment. She is accomplished at creating evidentiary presentations for use in trial and provides a high degree of support for trial counsel before the jury. She is adept and experienced in preparing motions for summary judgment, motions to compel, discovery requests and responses. She coordinates with national counsel in many cases to prepare weekly trial reports.
She provides technical support in all aspects of IT including training staff in the use of legal software applications. She creates and maintains customized document templates and macros which brings efficiency to our busy practice.
Ms. Truax has been active in the legal field for more than thirty years and has extensive experience in matters involving toxic torts, asbestos litigation, construction defect and personal injury.
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Ms. Umthun-Bermudez supports the firm’s attorneys by investigation and research, review of depositions, preparation for discovery and drafting pleadings. She has worked on many environmental cases and has extensive experience in asbestos defense. She has a keen eye for evidentiary discrepancies which often lead to invaluable impeachment opportunities. She also prides herself on keeping up to date on clients’ various reporting requirements.
Prior to joining Stevens, Drummond and Gifford, Ms. Umthun-Bermudez was a claims adjuster and paralegal for CNA Insurance Company. She is a member of the American Bar Association.
Ms. Umthun-Bermudez earned a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from California State University, East Bay, in 2009. She also holds an associate of arts degree in paralegal studies from Raritan Valley College in New Jersey.
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