Richard E. Elder



  • University of California, Los Angeles School of Law (J.D. 1999)
  • University of California, Los Angeles (B.A., With Honors, 1996)


Bar Admissions

  • California
  • Nevada

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of California
  • U.S. District Court, District of Nevada

Representative Matters

  • Foundation Repair/Retrofit Dispute: Successfully argued an appeal in a multiparty construction dispute resulting in the reversal of the trial court’s denial of a special motion to strike pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 (California’s anti-SLAPP statute), complete dismissal of all claims against firm’s clients, and an award of attorneys’ fees and costs.
  • Solar Array Power Project Dispute (Minnesota): Prosecuted claims on behalf of an EPC contractor against default-terminated subcontractor and surety for delay, liquidated damages, and completion costs and defended claims by the subcontractor against the EPC contractor and property owner for extra work and mechanic’s lien foreclosure arising out of a 10-project portfolio. Secured full dismissal with prejudice of subcontractor claims as a sanction for discovery abuse by the subcontractor and secured a multi-million dollar recovery against the subcontractor and surety.
  • Solar Array Power Project Dispute (Massachusetts): Prosecuted claims on behalf of an EPC contractor against subcontractors, suppliers, and performance bond surety and defended claims by subcontractors for extra work and mechanic’s lien foreclosure action through a week-long arbitration resulting in an award of 100% of the client’s claimed damages, as well as an award of attorneys’ fees and complete rejection of subcontractor claims and liens.
  • Multifamily Residential Project Dispute: Prosecuted and defended delay, extra work, and defect claims totaling over $25 million arising out of the construction of a 270-unit apartment complex through two-week arbitration resulting in compensation to the client of approximately 25% of the total project cost.
  • Retail Ground Lease Dispute: Defended a ground tenant and operator of a prominent 800,000-square-foot shopping mall against claims for additional percentage rent through three-week arbitration resulting in an award of less than half of the client’s pre-arbitration offer.
  • Solar Array Power Project Dispute (California): Prosecuted a $12 million defective design and construction claim against engineers and subcontractors involved in the construction of a seven-project portfolio of carport solar facilities. Secured full reimbursement of the client’s remediation and claim prosecution costs.
  • Communications Project Dispute: Represented a telecommunications system owner defending a $10-million claim by a contractor through a four-week federal jury trial, appeal, and remand, ultimately securing total defense judgment. Of the plaintiff’s five claims, the client prevailed on four at trial, with the jury awarding $1.9 million on the remaining claim. In the Ninth Circuit, a reversal was secured for the $1.9 million judgment on the grounds the plaintiff failed to comply with required claims procedures. On remand, secured complete summary judgment on the grounds that any damages claim was barred by the parties’ contract and the Ninth Circuit’s decision.
  • Solar Array Power Project Dispute (California): Defended and prosecuted claims in arbitration and litigation asserting extra work, liquidated damages, cost-to-complete, and back charges between owner, general contractor, and default-terminated subcontractor arising out of multi-site solar PV project.
  • Negotiation and Drafting of Construction Contracts: Drafted and negotiated contracts for owners and contractors on projects ranging from single-family and multi-family residential projects to utility-scale power plants. Negotiated and drafted multi-site alternative energy joint development agreements for solar developers, electric vehicle charging facility operators, and multifamily residential owners.
  • Municipal Bond Securities Fraud Litigation: Defended a local municipality against $15-million securities fraud claims brought by purchasers of municipal bonds issued to fund the troubled construction of a communications system. Secured complete summary judgment in favor of the client on all claims, recovering costs from the plaintiff who did not appeal. Defended the summary judgment on appeal where, in a published decision, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the judgment in favor of the client.
  • Toxic Tort (Asbestos) Litigation: Represented publicly-traded shopping mall REIT as the lone non-settling defendant through a four-week jury trial defending a claim by an ironworker alleging that exposure to asbestos during construction caused terminal lung cancer.   
  • Trademark Infringement Dispute: Prosecuted a $20 million trademark infringement case between a publicly-traded medical device manufacturer and a competitor founded by the client’s former CEO.  Secured settlement on the eve of trial, forcing infringing competitor out of business and causing client’s stock price to more than double in the 30 days following the settlement.
  • Mexican Liquid Natural Gas Plant Construction Dispute: Defended claims by a subcontractor against an EPC contractor client arising out of the construction of a $500-million natural gas pipeline terminal in Mexico. The case involved claims by the contractor totaling over $75 million, alleging delay, disruption, and changing conditions and nine-figure liquidated damages claims by the owner. Successfully settled matter for return of a portion of liquidated damages assessed against subcontractor and waiver of all subcontractor and owner claims.
  • Dispute Regarding Disrupted Operation of Mexican Liquid Natural Gas Plant: Defended claims of more than $15 million by the owner of a pipeline terminal in Mexico arising out of the disrupted operation of the facility. The matter was defended and resolved successfully with a minor modification of the facility.

Notable Decisions

  • Michael v. Sabin, 2020 WL 3496422 (Cal. Ct. App. 2020)
  • Nuveen v. City of Alameda, 730 F.3d 1111 (9th Cir., 2013)
  • Vectren v. City of Alameda, 536 Fed.Appx. 681 (9th Cir., 2013)
  • Provencher v. Dell, Inc., 409 F.Supp.2d 1196 (C.D. Cal., 2006) 
  • Palmer v. Schindler Elevator Corp., 108 Cal.App.4th 154 (2003)
  • Arnold v. Dow Chemical Co., 91 Cal. App. 4th 698 (2001)

Publications & Speaking Engagements


  • Mentioned, “Oakland Housing Developers Turn To New Ways Of Building To Reduce Costs,” Bisnow, June 28, 2018 by Julie Littman 
  • Quoted, “Alameda, California Muni Bond Case Raises Novel Securities Issues,” The Bond Buyer, April 7, 2014 by Keeley Webster
  • Mentioned, “City Immune From Securities Fraud Liability,” Commercial Lending Litigation News, January 2014
  • Quoted, “California City Prevails Against Investor Lawsuit,” The Bond Buyer, October 3, 2013 by Keeley Webster
  • Quoted, “Nuveen Suffers Blow in Suit Over Muni Bond Losses,” Ignites, September 24, 2013 by Peter Ortiz 
  • Mentioned, “9th Circuit Affirms Win for California City in Securities Row,” Law 360, September 19, 2013 by David McAfee 
  • Mentioned, “Ninth Circuit Nixes Vectren’s $1.9 M Win in Telecom Contract Suit,” Law 360, May 13, 2013 by Jeff Sistrunk 
  • Mentioned, “California City Sold Bonds Doomed to Fail, Ninth Circuit Hears,” Law 360, May 13, 2013 by Beth Winegarner 
  • Mentioned, “Nuveen Takes $12M Bath in Muni Bond Blow-Up,” Ignites, May 23, 2011 by Peter Ortiz 
  • “Language Barriers: International Service Abroad Under the Hague Convention,” San Francisco Daily Journal, April 29, 2009 by Richard Elder and H. James Wulfsberg 

Speaking Engagements

  • Moderator, “Unlocking the Value In The Office Market,” Bisnow Bay Area Office Market Update, September 29, 2022, San Francisco
  • Moderator, “New Developments In Northern California,” Bisnow Multifamily Annual Conference, November 4, 2021, San Francisco
  • Presenter, California Residential Development Briefing, October 15, 2019
  • Moderator, “San Francisco State of the Market: Construction, Development and Design,” Bisnow San Francisco Construction & Development, June 20, 2019, San Francisco
  • Presenter, California Residential Development Briefing, October 2, 2018, Walnut Creek  
  • Moderator, “Getting Developments Off The Ground – Zoning, Approvals and Labor Shortage,” Bisnow Oakland Construction & Development, June 14, 2018, Oakland
  • Presenter, California Residential Development Update, September 19, 2017, Walnut Creek
  • Moderator, “Hot Projects in Multifamily, Office, Mixed Use and Beyond,” Bisnow San Francisco Construction & Development, June 7, 2017, San Francisco
  • Moderator, “The Future of Office,” Bisnow San Francisco Construction & Development May 18, 2016, San Francisco

Rich Elder is a partner in Lubin Olson’s Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Real Estate Litigation, Real Estate, and Construction service groups. He specializes in real estate and construction law and handles both litigation and the negotiation and preparation of real estate and construction contracts. 

As a seasoned construction attorney, Mr. Elder represents property owners and design-build, engineering, and construction firms in construction claims involving delay, defective design and construction, unforeseen site conditions, breach of warranty, liens, and in the negotiation and drafting of contracts and related project documents.

Mr. Elder also has significant experience in general commercial litigation, including matters relating to securities, trade secrets, and other business disputes.

Prior to joining Lubin Olson, Mr. Elder was a partner at Burke Williams & Sorensen LLP in Oakland.