Delivering Exceptional Representation
About Bertrand, Fox, Elliot, Osman & Wenzel
Since its formation in 1986, the firm has been devoted to civil litigation with an emphasis on representing public entities, and for decades, Bertrand, Fox, Elliot, Osman & Wenzel has continued to set a standard of excellence in this area of the law. With a unique understanding of the complex issues facing public entities today, our attorneys regularly appear in state and federal courts throughout California. In addition, the firm proudly holds an “AV” rating (the highest) by Martindale-Hubbell, the national law directory.
Located at Aquatic Park near Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, Bertrand, Fox, Elliot, Osman & Wenzel serves clients throughout the Bay Area and select nearby cities. In recent years, the firm’s practice has grown to include cases throughout California. The firm’s second office in Oakland, California, is focused on serving its East Bay clients.
Our Practice Areas
The firm is routinely retained to represent clients in high-exposure and high-profile matters, including police shootings; use-of-force and in-custody deaths; negligence and dangerous condition of public property claims involving serious injuries and fatalities; negligent supervision/abuse claims; employment discrimination; harassment and retaliation claims; catastrophic fires; floods and landslides under inverse condemnation and related theories; ADA claims; and assorted business disputes.
The firm assists agencies from investigations through administrative hearings and judicial appeals, as well as helps with navigating the rulemaking process, open meetings laws, and the California Public Records Act. In addition, our team assists agencies in drafting and executing their regulations without stepping outside of Constitutional parameters or statutory law. The firm also defends government agencies accused of promulgating inappropriate, insufficient, or overzealous regulations and for alleged regulatory violations.
Americans with Disabilities Act
Since the act was adopted in 1990, the firm has handled all manner of related litigation, including access to public rights of way, building compliance, and accommodations to persons with disabilities. The firm’s extensive experience in this area has included defending the cities of Napa, Fairfield, Vallejo, Dixon, Vacaville, Livermore, Hayward, Pleasanton, Fremont, Antioch, Brentwood, Concord, Danville, El Cerrito, Martinez, Moraga, Orinda, Pinole, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Richmond, San Pablo, and Walnut Creek and the County of Sonoma in class-action lawsuits based on ADA claims.
Bertrand, Fox, Elliot, Osman & Wenzel aids clients in a variety of areas of business law, including corporate formation, mergers and acquisitions, licensing, public finance, fiduciary obligations, corporate governance, public disclosure issues, employee benefits, Uniform Commercial Code and consumer warranties, trade secret protection, trademark infringement, and unfair competition.
Serving public entity clients throughout the Northern California, the firm has successfully defended thousands of state and federal matters. From simple trip-and-fall cases to complex, high-exposure, and multi-party cases stemming from alleged dangerous conditions resulting in fatalities, the firm represents cities, counties, special districts, school districts, water districts, and other public agencies in complex litigation in both trial and appellate courts. The firm has also filed and opposed numerous writs and appeals in both state and federal court with great success. Our adept trial attorneys have tried more than 50 cases to jury verdict, and our litigation and trial experience enables us to evaluate cases efficiently, investigating each claim using the most cost-effective measures and undertaking discovery only when necessary.
The firm regularly handles cases involving allegations against government entities involving First Amendment free-speech issues. In addition, our team is skilled in matters concerning claims of Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment issues pertaining to wrongful arrest and excessive force. The firm also handles cases involving claims of due process violations under the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments.
The firm’s experienced members are highly experienced in all aspects of contract law, including drafting, structuring, negotiating, and interpreting a variety of commercial, real estate, intellectual property, and contracts so that organizations of all sizes can achieve their business goals and settle disputes.
Dangerous Condition of Public Property
Bertrand, Fox, Elliot, Osman & Wenzel represents public entities in claims of dangerous condition of public property ranging from individual property owners claiming damage from pipe leaks, sewage backups, landslides, and business disruption from public works projects to complex multi-party cases (including a flood litigation involving more than 200 plaintiffs and twenty defendants). The firm is experienced in handling claims regarding the failure of flood control facilities and is well versed in the various legal standards that apply to property damage—as well as the intricacies of the California Government Code and the privileges and immunities available to public entities. In addition to litigation, our team also assists clients in investigation and analysis of tort claims. The firm has a wide network of consultants it utilizes in such cases and can provide immediate counsel and consultation for emergent matters.
Government Tort Liability
The firm has successfully defended public entities and their employees against tort claims based on both negligence and dangerous conditions ranging from simple trip-and-fall cases to complex, high-exposure, and multi-party cases stemming from alleged dangerous conditions that result in fatalities. The firm has extensive experience in navigating the California Government Code and is knowledgeable in the privileges and immunities available to public entities. The firm also assists clients in the investigation and analysis of tort claims.
Inverse Condemnation/Property Law
The firm represents public entities in claims of inverse condemnation, nuisance, trespass, and dangerous condition of public property, ranging from individual property owners claiming damage from pipe leaks, sewage backups, landslides, and business disruption from public works projects to multi-party cases (including a flood litigation involving more than 200 plaintiffs and twenty defendants). In addition, our team has represented public entities in claims regarding the failure of flood control facilities and is well versed in the various legal standards that apply to property damage claims.
Labor and Employment Law
Our expertise in labor and employment law includes litigation, arbitrations, personnel hearings, investigations, and training. The firm has represented public entities throughout California in all aspects of this area of the law, including defense of claims of employment discrimination and sexual harassment, ADA discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination. The firm routinely provides advice and counsel on issues of employee hiring, discipline and termination, ADA accommodations, due process, personnel policies, grievances, arbitrations, and internal investigations.
Bertrand, Fox, Elliot, Osman & Wenzel has proudly provided legal services to the law enforcement community since its creation. Our practice includes the defense of law enforcement officers against claims of civil rights violations for unlawful arrest, excessive force, and cruel-and-unusual punishments, as well as unconstitutional customs and practices including negligence, battery, false imprisonment, supervisory liability, and malicious prosecution. We also handle such claims under state law, and we regularly defend against and oppose Pitchess motions brought by the plaintiffs. In addition, we advise clients on the legality of using force and make recommendations on changes to policies to avoid future litigation. Our attorneys understand all available defenses and immunities, including those under federal law, and we have handled such matters in the trial court and appellate court level. We are often consulted for recommendations on best practices based on the evolving case law to reduce the risk of litigation.
School Liability/Student Supervision
The firm has represented myriad school districts, the University of California, and community college districts in a variety of claims, including those brought by current and former employees and claims for injuries by students while on school property or under the supervision of school personnel. Our team also handles claims by students alleging sexual harassment, assault, and molestation by employees and other students, as well as claims regarding ADA-related physical access and educational accommodations.
With several decades of experience in this wide-ranging area of the law, Bertrand, Fox, Elliot, Osman & Wenzel regularly represents commercial clients in matters arising from claims of unfair competition in business marketplaces.
Writs and Appeals
The firm represents cities, counties, special districts, school districts, water districts, and other public agencies in complex litigation in both trial and appellate courts, and we have successfully filed and opposed numerous writs and appeals in state and federal court. A notable appellate victory includes the affirmation of summary judgment by the Court of Appeal in favor of a consolidated police authority and community college district where the plaintiff sustained catastrophic injuries while evading the agencies’ officers during a pursuit.