Kevin Brodehl


Kevin is a co-founding partner of Patton Sullivan Brodehl LLP.  He is a trial and appellate attorney focusing on high-stakes disputes involving “Money and Dirt” (real estate investment, development, and deeds of trust), LLCs, and fiduciary duties.


In an era where most litigation attorneys simply “manage” cases from their desks and rarely advocate inside the courtroom, Kevin’s practice has always focused on winning high-stakes trials, arbitrations, and appeals in forums across California.

He won his first trial the day after he was licensed as an attorney in 1998, won his first appeal three years later, and has served as lead trial and appellate counsel in an array of complex real estate and business cases ever since.  His courtroom experience also allows him to diagnose, shape, and favorably resolve many cases before trial.

Kevin has been recognized as a Super Lawyer every year from 2012 through 2018 (Thomson Reuters ratings), which is awarded to only 5% of the Northern California Bar.


Kevin focuses on disputes over “Money and Dirt” and also publishes a blog by that name —  The blog has earned Kevin the distinction of “JD Supra Top Author.”  (JD Supra 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards.)

As an Adjunct Professor at U.C. Berkeley School of Law in 2016, Kevin taught Real Estate Transactions and Litigation to advanced JD and MBA students, and he is a regular seminar speaker on real estate, secured lending, and LLC issues.

Kevin solves problems for a diverse set of real estate clients – developers, investors, joint venturers, and owner/operators, often in the form of LLCs, partnerships, and REITs.  Cases involve broken contracts (purchase/sale, option, lease, development/disposition, joint venture/owner participation), title and title insurance issues, escrow issues, deed restrictions (including CC&Rs), easements, fraud/nondisclosure, and partition.  He also represents select public agencies and private landowners in eminent domain, inverse condemnation, and land use matters.

Kevin has unique and deep experience with secured lending and foreclosure disputes (non-residential).  Since 2013, Kevin has served as one of the primary Annual Update Authors for CEB’s leading treatise “Mortgages, Deeds of Trust, and Foreclosure Litigation,” and has spoken at numerous seminars and webinars.  In his secured lending practice, Kevin represents a mixture of private lenders, investors, secondary loan and deed of trust buyers, and sophisticated borrowers/guarantors (often developers or investors) in disputes involving promissory notes, loan default, receivership, foreclosure, guarantor liability, and lien priority.


Kevin also handles business disputes and counseling across diverse industries other than real estate, including technology, health care, finance, manufacturing, food & beverage, agriculture, and cannabis.  He has written and spoken extensively about LLC issues, including member/manager disputes and fiduciary duties.  He also handles claims involving breach of contract, trade secret misappropriation, interference, fraud, and business divorce / dissolution.

Kevin also has experience representing fiduciaries charged with administering trusts and estates, and pursuing/defending creditor claims against estates.


Clients and other trial attorneys retain Kevin to handle appeals and writs in California’s courts of appeal.  He has argued in appellate courts throughout the State, and has notched several published, precedent-setting victories (along with many unpublished wins).  Kevin takes special pride in getting trial court judgments and orders reversed, and having meritorious claims reinstated.

Kevin served as President of the Appellate Section of the Contra Costa County Bar Association from 2004 to 2007, and is a seminar speaker on appellate issues.


Real Estate Development / Investment / LLC Disputes:

  • Lead trial attorney for LLC members suing manager for breach of fiduciary duties arising from misappropriation and withholding of customary distributions while a charging order was in effect. Case remains pending in the trial court, after prior appeal victory.
  • Co-trial counsel for local developer in purchase and sale agreement dispute involving seller’s bad faith rejection of closing deadline extension and poisoning of entitlement efforts. Case settled favorably days before trial, after successful defense of motion for summary judgment.
  • Appellate counsel for joint venturers suing for profits under development participation agreement. Prevailed in court of appeal, defeating adversary’s writ and preserving client’s trial court victory.
  • Represented national, publicly traded health care REIT and its local subsidiary in dispute with master tenant of skilled nursing home facility. Obtained quick, favorable settlement giving control of facility to new master tenant chosen by client.
  • Represented Bay Area public agency in hotly contested eminent domain proceedings involving valuation of mineral interests and real estate condemned for highway widening. Case settled just weeks before trial for less than half of demand.
  • Represented founding member of real estate investment LLC in case alleging breach of fiduciary duties against other founding members who abandoned client to participate in new REIT enterprise. Case settled successfully.
  • Defended a Delaware “series LLC” operating cell tower portfolio in an action by landowner alleging breach of tower lease. Took over case after entry of adverse judgment. Defeated post-judgment “alter ego” motion in the trial court, prosecuted appeal, and achieved settlement that directed previously untapped insurance funds to pay off entire adverse judgment and provide additional six-figure recovery to client.
  • Lead trial attorney representing apartment building owner/operator in a jury trial defending claims of fraud and statutory violations related to a condo condominium conversion. Settled after jury selection and before opening statements for only 2% of the plaintiff’s initial demand.
  • Lead trial attorney in binding arbitration representing a real estate development company and ground lessee seeking to exercise an option to purchase commercial property. Obtained award enforcing the option (defeating claims of invalidity) at less than half the “fair market” price demanded by seller.
  • Co-chaired one-week arbitration defending homebuilder from fraud claims by a group of homeowners. After lengthy cross-examination of the plaintiff’s chief expert witness, and direct examination of the chief defense expert, the case settled quickly and favorably, with insurance funding most of the settlement.

Lending / Foreclosure Disputes:

  • Lead trial and appellate attorney for property investor in dispute with secured lender involving lien rights and Subdivision Map Act issues. Case is currently on appeal.
  • Represented secured note buyer and private money lender/servicer asserting post-foreclosure claims against neighboring commercial property owners and public agency for breach of common area deed restrictions (CC&Rs) impacting use and value of security property obtained through foreclosure. Case settled with favorable buyout of client’s property.
  • Lead trial attorney for private money lender in U.S. Bankruptcy Court trial against debtor LLC regarding default interest under debtor’s confirmed bankruptcy plan. Prevailed at trial and secured dismissal of appeal. Currently representing client in sequel dispute against debtor in same court.
  • Represented debtor probate estate defending claims by bank seeing nearly $3 million for defaulted development loan. Prevailed on appeal of adverse judgment. After remand, prevailed on motion for summary adjudication, leading to a settlement totaling only 2% of amount demanded by bank.
  • Lead trial attorney representing real estate developer and also mezzanine lender in wrongful foreclosure claims against senior lender. Took over case after trial had already started; settled case favorably. Prevailed in later appeal regarding the settlement.
  • Represented master developer LLCs implementing $100+ million downtown development in claims against major bank and national REIT development partner involving bank’s attempted (but halted) “receiver sale.”
  • Lead trial attorney representing manager of private money lender LLC defending claims by LLC member based on fiduciary duties. Defeated two claims pre-trial; obtained dismissal of final claim on third day of trial.
  • Represented private money lender/servicer defending claims by rogue investor who wired funds into loan transaction escrow without signing participation agreement. Settled case favorably before trial.
  • Represented global agribusiness lender pursuing $100 million fraud and fiduciary duty claims against another global bank involving the purchase of bad syndicated loan debt. Obtained appellate reversal of the lower court’s adverse judgment.

Business and I.P. Disputes:

  • Lead trial attorney in a two-week jury trial in San Francisco prosecuting a Uniform Commercial Code promissory note case. Obtained judgment and “prevailing party” attorney fee awards totaling $2.6 Million.
  • Represented online media company in case alleging breach of online advertising contract by a “big data” platform company. Case settled successfully at mediation.
  • Represented regional franchisee who departed from a major real estate brokerage in a case alleging trade secret theft. Case settled early and favorably, with all claims being dismissed in exchange for no monetary compensation.
  • Represented three public agencies in sales and use tax allocation dispute with Board of Equalization. Prevailed in obtaining writ of mandate from the trial court reversing BOE final decision, although that victory was later reversed on appeal.
  • Represented an industrial component distribution company and its chief executive accused of trade secret misappropriation. Defeated motions for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, resulting in quick settlement for a small fraction of the original demand.
  • Defended a print brokerage company accused of misappropriating trade secrets and driving a vendor into bankruptcy by hiring the vendor’s key employees. Depositions and motion work set the stage for favorable settlement with an insurance company funding the majority.

Appeals & Writs:

  • Lead appellate attorney for LLC members suing manager for breach of fiduciary duty. Victory in the court of appeal in May 2018 resurrected the case from a previous adverse judgment entered before Mr. Brodehl was retained.
  • Lead appellate attorney for property owners challenging trial court’s interpretation of easement in Santa Cruz hills. Case remains pending.
  • Lead appellate attorney for property investor in dispute regarding terms of sale to developer. Case remains pending.
  • Lead appellate attorney for property investor in dispute with secured lender involving lien rights and Subdivision Map Act issues. Case remains pending.
  • Quarterbacked appeal team effort on behalf of a Northern California County to enforce contractual and regulatory rights over agricultural land governed by the California Land Conservation Act (Williamson Act). Obtained complete reversal of trial court’s adverse judgment, which resulted in a published appellate decision – County of Humboldt v. McKee (2008) 165 Cal.App.4th 1476. Also secured dismissal of opponent’s related appeal, and prevailed on a writ of mandate shaping trial court proceedings on remand.
  • Defended a commercial real estate owner from claims that it breached a contract to sell its commercial property by proving that the contract was illegal and unenforceable under the California Subdivision Map Act. The court of appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment in favor of client in a published decision – Sixells, LLC v. Cannery Business Park (2008) 170 Cal.App.4th 648.
  • Lead-author of amicus curiae brief filed by major Taiwan and U.S. Wi-Fi manufacturers (and joined by Microsoft Corporation) in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in a closely watched patent infringement case.


  • “Money and Dirt” blog author, since 2014 (“JD Supra Top Author” – 2018)
  • Annual Update Author for CEB’s leading treatise “Mortgages, Deeds of Trust, and Foreclosure Litigation” since 2013
  • “Beware the ‘Security Side Deal’ in Multi-Debtor Real Estate Secured Obligations: First California Bank v. McDonald,” co-author with Charles Hansen (California Real Property Journal — Vol. 33, No. 3, 2015)
  • [Part 2] “Receiver’s Sales – Mirage and Major Hazard for Both Lenders and Receivers,” co-author with Charles Hansen (Receivership News, Summer 2012)
  • [Part 1] “Receiver’s Sales – Mirage and Major Hazard for Both Lenders and Receivers,” co-author with Charles Hansen, Receivership News, Spring 2012
  • The Stop Payment Notice: Construction Lenders Beware (Law 360, April 9, 2014)
  • “Winning On Appeal When The Odds Are Against You” (San Francisco Daily Journal, December 23, 2011)
  • “A Lie is a Lie: California Supreme Court Allows Tort Recovery for Fraud During the Performance of a Contract” (Contra Costa Lawyer, June 2005)


  • Numerous seminars regarding real estate and LLC disputes, foreclosure litigation, and title issues (ongoing)
  • “The Top Ten Things I Wish My Client’s Attorney Told Me Before Testifying” (Appraisal Institute Seminar, Northern California Chapter, May 17, 2018)
  • Conference Panelist, International Right of Way Association (IRWA) Annual Eminent Domain Update (January 2017 and 2018)
  • “Nuts and Bolts of Real Estate Receiverships” (Contra Costa County Bar Association Seminar, September 16, 2016)
  • “Receivers and Receiverships in California Foreclosures and Real Property Disputes” (Continuing Education of the Bar Webinar, August 16, 2016)
  • “The Effective Appeal – Putting Punch in Your Briefs and Oral Arguments,” co-panelist with Justice Simons, Justice Stein, and Myron Moskovitz (Contra Costa County Bar Association, November 2009)
  • “Protecting the Record During Trial,” panelist (Contra Costa County Bar Association, September 2008)
  • “Stays Pending Appeal,” roundtable moderator (Contra Costa County Bar Association, March 2005)
  • “Winning Your Appeal During the Trial: Preserving the Record and Identifying Appealable Orders,” co-presenter (Contra Costa County Bar Association, March 2004)


  • Adjunct Professor at U.C. Berkeley School of Law, Real Estate Transactions and Litigation (Fall 2016)
  • Adjunct Professor of Law, John F. Kennedy School of Law, Appellate Advocacy (Fall 2006)
  • Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAIOP), San Francisco Chapter
  • California Mortgage Association (CMA)
  • Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group, Board Member and Member of Housing, Infrastructure, and Transportation Committee
  • ProVisors (San Ramon 2; Bay Area Real Estate Affinity Group; East Bay Attorney Affinity Group)
  • California Bar Association
  • Alameda County Bar Association
  • Contra Costa County Bar Association
  • First District Court of Appeal Community Outreach Program (2006)