Keith R. Gillette

Shareholder, San Francisco Office

Direct Dial: 415.352.2766
keith.gillette@bullivant.com



Practice Areas

Bar Admissions

  • California, 1997
  • Nevada, 2008

Court Admissions

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

Education

  • University of San Francisco, School of Law - J.D., 1997
  • U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point - B.S., 1987
  • Santa Clara University - LL.M., Intellectual Property, 2008

Practice Experience

Keith Gillette brings a unique perspective to the practice of law. As a degreed engineer with a decade of experience in the field of Marine (mechanical) Engineering, he brings a critical eye to the technical aspects of legal issues.

Keith's focus is trial practice in both California and Nevada encompassing admiralty, trucking, product liability, intellectual property, and large-exposure tort litigation. His first trial as lead counsel came as a second-year associate more than 18 years ago. Since that time, Keith's attention has been on refining his skills as a trial lawyer. His first-chair trial experience covers both state and federal courts throughout California and Nevada. His trial and arbitration experience extends to catastrophic bodily injury at sea and ashore, land transportation, property loss claims, unfair competition claims, intellectual property, defective consumer and industrial products, and contract disputes.

Admiralty and Maritime
A graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY, Keith's time at sea as a senior engineering officer aboard U.S.-flagged vessels provides a breadth of experience he brings to the courtroom. Representative matters include Jones Act and Longshore Act claims, shoreside wrongful death claims, brown water incidents, pleasure boat casualties, and product defect claims involving propulsion systems and boat fixtures. Keith's clients include P&I clubs, container crane owners, ship owners, port facility interests, engine manufacturers, and ski boat equipment makers. Keith's clients include a west-coast stevedoring operations enterprise, for which he serves as regional panel counsel.

Product Defect
Keith has successfully defended at trial and arbitration product defect claims involving a wide variety of products. Representative products include liquid propane distribution systems, commercial refrigeration equipment, water meters, marine refrigeration systems, vessel appurtenances, and ski boat engines.

Large Exposure Tort Litigation
Keith's experience includes catastrophic bodily injury and wrongful death claims involving industrial machinery, trucking accidents, construction sites, shipboard incidents, and consumer and industrial products.

Intellectual Property and Business Litigation
Keith's representative IP litigation experience encompasses prosecuting and defending infringement claims of patents, copyrights, and trademarks as well as trade secret misappropriation. Representative clients include inventors, authors and trademark owners in the winemaking, electrical component manufacturing, and the glass grinding industry. His litigation experience extends to adversarial proceedings before the U.S. Trademark Trials and Appeals Board.

TRIAL EXPERIENCE

Keith's trial experience extends to jury and bench trials in the state and federal courts of California and Nevada, and is included within the following representative matters:

Product Defect

  • Commercial Freezer – Unanimous defense verdict in 2014 after a 5-day Las Vegas federal court jury trial on behalf of the nation's largest manufacturer of commercial refrigeration equipment. The insurer of a business in a historic structure in rural Clark County, Nevada sought subrogation for $1.1 million paid to its insured property owner.
  • Propane Regulators/Delivery Equipment – 2015 Defense verdict in a 17-day California state court jury trial that included allegations of defective regulators and propane delivery equipment subject to manufacturer's recall.
  • Water Meters – Nuisance-value settlement of claims brought by Bank of America against the largest manufacturer of water meters in the U.S. by establishing design deficiencies and as-built omissions in the water supply/circulating system of a high-rise building in San Francisco.
  • Boat Engines – Obtained dismissal of a suit for a nationally-recognized boat engine manufacturer through pre-trial motions.
  • Vessel Gear and Tackle – Successfully defended a bodily injury claim involving eye injuries and blindness brought against a prominent manufacturer of pleasure boat accessories.
  • Consumer Folding Ladder – Cost of defense settlement of catastrophic injury involving claimed failure of folding shop ladder.
  • Propane Gas Barbeque – Nuisance settlement involving bodily injury claims for burns sustained while using a gas barbeque grill manufactured by a prominent maker of consumer grills and barbeques.
  • Bicycle – Successfully defended claims of a defectively manufactured bicycle brought against a major retailer by the parents of an injured 8-year old child.

Transportation/Maritime

  • Port Facility Container Crane – Successfully defended the owner and operator of a Port of Oakland container facility operator against wrongful death and product liability claims brought on behalf of a container crane supervising mechanic.
  • Trucking – Successfully defended a tractor operator in Nevada state court in a wrongful death claim arising from an incident involving a tractor and motorcycle, brought by the estate of the motorcyclist.
  • Ocean Vessel Jones Act/Unseaworthiness – Successfully defended claims brought by a marine engineer aboard an ocean-going fishing vessel after he sustained catastrophic burn injuries while performing maintenance inspections to the vessel's cargo refrigeration system.
  • Vessel Repairs – Successfully defended a California state court action involving claims of deficient repairs to a pleasure boat that resulted in catastrophic injuries from the boat's allision in restricted delta waters.
  • Warehouse Facilities – Defended facility operator in California state court action involving a trucker who suffered catastrophic bodily injuries including amputating injuries to ankle and foot after an incident involving a forklift.
  • Trucking – Defended tractor-trailer operator in California state court after he rear-ended an airport van, resulting in career-ending injuries to one of its passengers, a commercial airline pilot.
  • Ocean Vessel Jones Act/Maintenance and Cure – Resolved claims brought by an able-bodied seaman for claimed maintenance and cure obligations against the owner of a blue water vessel.
  • Cargo – Resolved for nuisance value claims brought by cargo interests against stevedoring concern.

Catastrophic Bodily Injury

  • Job-Site Construction – Jury trial in San Francisco state court (second chair) involving a 2-week new trial of catastrophic bodily injury matter arising from ironworker's fall at a job site resulting in paraplegia. The first trial resulted in a verdict in excess of $20 million; re-trail resulted in a verdict of $7.8 million.
  • Premises Liability – Successfully defended the owner of a shopping center in bodily injury claim brought by tenant retailer's employee for defectively-designed and -constructed refuse collection area.
  • Job-Site Construction – Catastrophic bodily injury claim brought by job site worker for a fall through an unguarded lightwell, involving career-ending injuries involving amputation of one leg and loss of use of the remaining leg. Obtained dismissal through summary judgment for our client, a construction subcontractor.
  • Hazardous Road Conditions – Successfully defended Las Vegas land developer in wrongful death action in Nevada state court arising from a rollover accident on roads under construction within a development in Henderson, Nevada.
  • Construction Equipment – Successfully defended interests of a general contractor in a bodily injury claim brought by a motorcyclist where an employee was operating construction equipment on a public road.

Complex Litigation Trials and Arbitrations

  • Fraud, Breach of Contract – December 2015 defense verdict in 12-day jury trial in Merced (California) County State Court, where claims of breach of contract, indemnity, and fraud were asserted against a prominent supplier and vendor of computer system infrastructure arising from the supply and installation of equipment used in the server room of a building being constructed on the UC Merced campus.
  • Fraud, Breach of Contract – 5-day jury trial in Nevada District (state) court. Claims involved intentional misrepresentation, fraudulent inducement, unfair business practices brought by the owner of a Las Vegas shopping center against Dunn Edwards, a national manufacturer of building coatings and paints.
  • Property Boundary Dispute – 2-1/2 week jury trial in San Francisco state court involving trespass, encroachment, and nuisance involving a co-operative building in San Francisco and adjacent construction activities on site of Jack London's former home/cottage. Resulted in a jury award of less than 10% of plaintiff's demand.
  • Breach of Contract, Misappropriation – 7-day binding arbitration (AAA) - breach of contract claim brought by Shaklee Corporation against client Compass Product design, with counterclaims for breach of contract and misappropriation involving engineering design services provided by Compass. After a 7-day arbitration, Plaintiff's claims were rejected and Compass awarded $175,000 on counterclaims.
  • Breach of Contract, Unfair Business Practices – Defense verdict in a 5-day trial representing lender in California state court, involving consumer claims for breach of contract and unfair business practices claims with alleged damages in excess of $750,000.

Professional and Civic Involvement

  • The Maritime Law Association of the United States (Member)
  • Defense Research Institute (Member)
  • Contra Costa County Bar Association (Member)
  • American Legion & Veterans of Foreign Wars (Volunteer)
  • Boy Scouts of America (Assistant Scoutmaster & Committee Chair, Troop 941 - Pleasanton, CA)

Awards and Honors

  • Recognized by Martindale-Hubbell with its Client Distinction Award, an exclusive recognition given to only the top 1% of practicing attorneys
  • Held a U.S. Coast Guard senior engineering license as a First Assistant Engineering Officer, Unlimited Horsepower, for both Steam and Motor Vessels
  • Awarded the U.S. Merchant Marine Expeditionary Medal for his involvement Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1991)

Outside the Firm

Keith volunteers his time, assisting veterans with their legal needs through the American Legion & Veterans of Foreign Wars. He has also served as an Assistant Scoutmaster and Committee Chair, Boy Scout Troop 941 in Pleasanton, CA.