TEL: (916) 978-3434 Ext. 115
FAX: (916) 978-3430
University of California, Berkeley (B.A. 1973)
State Bar of California
U.S. District Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Supreme Court of the United States
Rick Linkert joined the firm in 1979 while awaiting Bar results. He began work under the guidance of firm founder, Henry G. (Hank) Matheny. Hank was a consummate trial attorney and Rick was fortunate to “second chair” two major trials involving wrongful death, brain injury and paraplegia during the first few years of practice. Since that time, Rick has focused on handling a diverse spectrum of cases ranging from explosions and wildland fires to sexual exploitation to Governmental Tort Liability. For the last ten years, his practice has emphasized what might be called “Smoke Jumping” assignments – being retained shortly before the trial of a high exposure case. Rick became a partner in 1984 and has been Managing Partner since 1995.
No one knows more about the risks inherent in taking a case to trial than an experienced trial attorney. Over the years, Rick has developed an approach to litigation that begins with working with the client to define critical issues and objectives. From that point, a strategy is developed to resolve the litigation as efficiently as possible. Trial is, or should be, a last resort. That said, it is critical that an adversary understand that an attorney is not afraid of the courtroom and is ready, willing, and able to take the case to trial if a reasonable resolution cannot be negotiated. Experience has demonstrated, time and again, that having a reputation for trying difficult cases is an essential component of successful non-trial resolutions. Negotiating from a position of power is critical and developing evidence and arguments is essential to creating a “downside risk” for one’s adversary. The most challenging aspect of handling defense cases is the development of a strategy to maximize power– including in cases involving apparent or even clear liability. Having handled selected high-exposure plaintiff cases over the course of his career, Rick has developed an understanding of litigation from the perspective of a plaintiff as well. Successful resolution requires extension of the figurative “olive branch,” but the other hand must be ready to respond with the figurative “meat cleaver” if reasonable settlement is rejected.
Martindale-Hubbell, AV Peer Review Rated
American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA)
Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
Continuing Education and Presentations:
Mr. Linkert has spent a considerable portion of the last several decades associating as trial counsel, often shortly before trial. Below are a few of his selected results.
Mr. Linkert was retained by an excess insurer in late 2015 as trial counsel in a highly publicized molestation case against an East Bay Area school district. The 12 male minor plaintiffs claimed they were molested by their teacher, who was convicted of multiple felonies, serving a 12 year sentence at the time of trial, and testified via videoconference from state prison. Plaintiffs claimed there were multiple instances that provided notice to the district teachers, administrators and other mandated reporters of improper conduct. There was considerable media exposure, including articles and editorials in various newspapers criticizing the district and its counsel for defending the case. The defense required the negation of each of the alleged prior notice events, including that the district neither knew nor should have known the teacher was molesting the plaintiffs. There were extensive psychiatric evaluations by psychiatric experts on both sides. Trial commenced in January and went to the jury in March. Plaintiffs requested the jury return a verdict for $55,500,000 against the district. After days of deliberation, with the jury unable to reach a verdict, the Court declared a “hung” jury. The case subsequently settled for $1.2 million, a fraction of what was demanded by plaintiffs prior to trial. Mr. Linkert was assisted at counsel table during trial by Matheny Sears associate, Julia Reeves, Esq.
Obtained dismissal of 6 consolidated cases arising out of the 2007 Moonlight Fire. The cases were dismissed on the eve of trial in Plumas County Superior Court after plaintiffs were unable to present a prima facie case of negligence. The alleged damages included an $8.1 million fire suppression cost claim by the State of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) and more than $50 million in damages claimed by five groups of property owners affected by the fire. Subsequent to dismissal, all defendants filed motions for attorneys’ fees and sanctions based upon evidence that Cal Fire investigators conducted a fraudulent investigation, hid evidence, changed their claimed origin and were untruthful in depositions. The specially assigned judge for all purposes granted the motions and awarded attorneys’ fees/expert expenses/sanctions in the aggregate sum of $32.4 million against Cal Fire. This is one of the largest sanctions award of its kind in the country. Mr. Linkert represented a family group of landowners and their forest management company. Their share of the award was $6.1 million.
Obtained defense verdict for subcontractor in $7 million contractual indemnity action filed by general contractor following fire loss where client would have been responsible for the entire claimed amount if any percentage of liability was found. Upheld on appeal and denial of defendant’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees reversed. Plaintiff contractor paid $800K in attorneys’ fees, expert witness fees and costs.
Obtained verdict of $4.5 million in a wrongful death case of admitted liability. Lowest demand prior to trial was $10 million; plaintiff demanded $32 million at trial. Decedent wife and mother of two recently earned her Ph.D. Wage loss of $1.5 million.
Obtained defense verdict in rape of teen attending a weekend retreat sponsored by client. The rapist was invited to attend the retreat as a counselor. Plaintiff became pregnant as a result of the rape, developed preeclampsia, and had significant medical bills prior to and after birth of child.
Obtained Habeas Corpus release from state prison for client convicted of sexually assaulting step-daughter. Daughter admitted fabricating charges during fourth day of deposition cross-examination.
Obtained successful Motion for Summary Judgment in catastrophic burn case where client’s foreman admitted mistakenly informing plaintiff that gasoline vapor recovery system was not connected to underground storage tank being relined. Upheld on appeal.
Obtained $23 million judgment for client following successful Motion for Summary Judgment in Breach of Contract, Promissory Note Default case. MSJ based upon a strategy of limited discovery (requests for admissions and interrogatories; no depositions taken in the case).
Obtained Motion for Summary Judgment for General Contractor following job site trench cave-in that killed three boys and injured a fourth. All other co-defendants lost their respective MSJ’s and remained in the case. Upheld on appeal.
American Bar Association
Sacramento County Bar Association
Association of Defense Counsel of Northern California and Nevada
DRI – The Voice of the Defense