MATTHEW HICKS has extensive experience in a wide range of construction and business matters. He has handled numerous trials, arbitrations, mediations, and pre-litigation dispute resolution negotiations on behalf of private companies, individuals and public entities. Mr. Hicks has represented owners, general contractors, subcontractors and sureties on both public and private works projects involving contracts, disputes and projects ranging from tens of millions of dollars down to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In his construction law practice, Mr. Hicks has prosecuted and defended a myriad of claims including but not limited to time-related claims (e.g., delay/impact), extra work and change order claims, differing site condition claims, inadequate design and construction defect claims, indemnity claims, statutory penalty claims and attorney's fee litigation. Mr. Hicks also provides legal advice and counsel regarding the contracting process (e.g., bid and contract disputes/performance bond claims), payment enforcement/defense (e.g. payment bonds/mechanic's liens/stop notices/insurance claims), administrative issues, and general advice and counsel relative to contract preparation and negotiation. Mr. Hicks also advises clients on related construction and business issues, including preventative risk analysis, wage issues, the False Claims Act, and construction defects.
In his non-construction law practice, Mr. Hicks has extensive litigation, dispute resolution, and trial experience in a vast array of business matters, defending public entity and private sectors employers in wrongful termination, retaliation, discrimination and PAGA cases, and representing public entity school districts in Americans with Disabilities (ADA) and Rehabilitation Act cases involving allegations of a failure to provide facilities access, allegations of a failure to properly integrate into a general education setting (unlawful segregation claims), allegations of a failure too provide effective communication, allegations of a failure to accommodate, and allegations of a failure to properly assess special needs students.
Areas of Practice
- Business and Contract
- Public Entity ADA and Rehabilitation Act
- U.S. District Court Central District of California
- Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, California
- J.D. - 1997
- University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
- B.A. - 1993
- Honors: With Academic Honors
- Co-Author, “Two Cases Demonstrate the Reach of Government Code Section 1090: Criminal and Civil Penalties Await the Unwary Government Official,” Lozano Smith Client News Brief, March 29, 2016
- Author, “Recent Appellate Court Ruling Provides Guidance on Contractor’s Delay Damages and on Challenging a Performance Bond Surety’s ‘Lack Of Notice’ Defense,” Lozano Smith Client News Brief, January 15, 2016
- Author, “Release Me: Beware Broadly Worded Release Provisions,” The Daily Journal, June 15, 2015
- Co-Author, “Termination for Convenience, It’s All About ‘Good Faith,’” Modern Contractor Solutions, August 2012
- Author, “Contractors, Be Sure to Maintain Your Workers’ Compensation Insurance,” The Daily Journal, June 2, 2011
- Author, “Termination for Convenience: It’s All About ‘Good Faith,’” Construction Executive, September 2010
- Author, “No Damages For Delay Clauses In California In the Public and Private Works Settings,” Construction Management Association of America Southern California Chapter News, Winter 2010
- Author, “Cardinal Change and Abandonment: Applications for Contractors, Owners, Sureties,” ENR 2008 Surety Market Report, June 16, 2008
- UCLA Extension Public Policy Program's Planning Commissioners Training Seminar, 2008
- California CEQA Conference, Legal Ethics and California's Conflicts of Interest and Self-Dealing Laws, 2007
Honors and Awards
- Super Lawyers-Rising Stars Edition
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Los Angeles County Bar Association, Member
- American Bar Association, Member
In June 2022, Mr. Bergman and Mr. Hicks successfully tried a case for its structural steel supplier client on a project at the Golden Gate Bridge through a judicial reference proceeding. The client was awarded $3.3 million including all damages requested, interest, and attorney’s fees. This win was featured in the Los Angeles Daily Journal’s Verdicts and Settlements in the February 3, 2023 edition.
In 2016-2017, on behalf of a public entity school district client arising from a $20 million renovation project of an existing high school, Mr. Hicks defended against a general contractor’s million-dollar extra work and impact/delay claims, resolving the matter efficiently through mediation and post-mediation negotiations for roughly 10% of the total contractor’s claim.
In 2015-2016, on behalf of a public entity school district client arising from a nearly $20 million project involving construction of a new middle school in connection with a “multiple prime” project, Mr. Hicks defended against a contractor’s $750,000 extra work and impact/delay claims, resolving the matter efficiently through mediation and post-mediation negotiations for roughly 25% of the total contractor’s claim.
In 2008-2009, Mr. Hicks represented a national telecommunications contractor in its claims against the Regents of the UC arising from unpaid extra work and delay claims for telecommunications work at UCLA medical facilities and was able to settle the dispute through informal dispute resolution meetings with the UC Regents in-house counsel for a high six-figure settlement.
In 2003, after a four-week jury trial in Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose before the Hon. Leslie Nichols, Mr. Hicks obtained a jury verdict in favor of his public entity school district client arising from allegations against a general contractor in connection with a public work project to install an underground fuel storage system. The underground fuel storage system leaked causing extensive gasoline to leak into the school district’s transportation yard. Ultimately, the issue of breach of contract was severed and tried before the Court following the jury trial on tort claims, and the Court found damages for Mr. Hicks’ client in the amount of $1,500,000, and awarded attorney’s fees that took the total award above $2 million.
Public Entity ADA Law
On February 22, 2023, Mr. Hicks received a bench ruling in favor of his public entity school district client against allegations by a special needs plaintiff for alleged (1) failure to provide effective communication, (2) failure to properly integrate (alleged unlawful segregation), and (3) failure to properly reassess. The bench trial occurred from November 2, 2021 to November 5, 2021 before the Hon. Jesus Bernal in federal court in Riverside. In that case, the plaintiff only obtained one finding in his favor, i.e., that he was not properly integrated into a general education setting for one school year in 2018-2019, and obtained no damages as the Court found notwithstanding the one violation, no damages were factually or legally recoverable. In that case, plaintiff’s counsel sought $750,000 in attorney’s fees but Mr. Hicks obtained a ruling from Judge Bernal that plaintiff was not a prevailing party and entitled to no attorney’s fees.
On November 19, 2021, Mr. Hicks prevailed before an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit in the matter entitled D.D. v. Los Angeles Unified School District, 18 F.4th 1043, Lexis 34554, WL 5407763 on the issue of whether a school student had properly exhausted his remedies prior to filing suit in federal court on Title II Americans with Disabilities Act claims. The en banc decision reversed a prior 2-1 ruling against Mr. Hicks’ client.
On December 8, 2021, Mr. Hicks prevailed in a federal court jury trial before the Hon. George Wu on claims brought by a middle school student and her mother against his school district client for alleged retaliation in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The jury voted unanimously 8-0 for Mr. Hicks’ school district client finding no merit to the retaliation claims. On the lone “failure to accommodate” claim, the jury deadlocked 4-4. This win was featured in the Los Angeles Daily Journal’s Verdicts and Settlements “Defense” verdicts in the February 25, 2022 edition.