Keith E. Smith


21804 Cactus Avenue
Suite 200
Riverside, CA 92518
P (951) 779-5000
F (951) 755-1650

10960 Wilshire Boulevard
18th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90024
P (310) 481-7600
F (310) 481-7650

6A Liberty Street
Suite 200
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
P (949) 757-4500
F (949) 757-4550

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Keith Smith is a skilled trial lawyer known for his expertise in handling a wide variety of complex matters for both public entities and private clients. His practice areas spans complex commercial litigation including issues involving construction, securities/FINRA, employment, directors and officers, catastrophic injury and professional liability matters. He also handles numerous matters involving sureties, including payment and performance bond claims, mechanic’s lien release bonds, litigation bonds, surety takeovers and defaults on construction projects.

Keith is regularly retained by public entities and private clients for his litigation prowess handling high exposure catastrophic injury matters. These include traumatic brain injury, wrongful death, amputations and disfigurement claims. Keith acts as National Coordinating Counsel for a major motion picture studio for all injury claims nationwide, is regularly retained as monitoring counsel by clients and insurers to oversee and then take to trial large exposure claims. Under this umbrella are all facets of injury matters for motor carriers, public entities and private companies in growing out of transportation related issues. He is a sought out speaker at regional and national conferences where he shares his knowledge and experience on cutting edge trial issues ranging from nuclear verdicts to the reptile theory.

In the construction arena, Keith regularly represents residential and commercial builders, public and private owners, construction managers and design professionals in complex construction law matters. He has a proven record of results in matters involving almost every conceivable issue that can arise from a construction project. This includes payment disputes, mechanic’s lien, stop notice, bond claims, construction defects, delay, acceleration and inefficiency claims, extra work, differing site, changed condition and change order claims, construction site injuries, bid protests, debarment proceedings and False Claims Act disputes. He returned a defense verdict in one of the first construction cases to proceed to trial in California involving SB800, another first as that trial was completely paperless. A compliment to Keith’s construction practice, he is also an adjunct professor at the University of La Verne Law School, where he teaches California Construction Law.

Both public and private entities enjoy the experience and fact that Keith handles employment issues and is conversant in not only the risk management but litigation results in this area of law. This includes HR counseling, representation at EDD and pre-litigation agency hearings, and litigation of complex employment claims in court and in arbitration. He has successfully handled matters involving wrongful termination, wage and hour, PAGA, discrimination, disability, and sexual harassment.

Keith litigates a diverse group of professional liability claims, including the representation of securities brokers, attorneys, home inspectors, public adjusters, real estate professionals, veterinarians, architects, engineers, and surveyors. He is conversant and skilled in defending all sorts of habitability and hospitality issues which fall under this area of law, and has addressed issues for both public and private entities ranging from mold, occupational exposure to habitability. Keith also handles national claims for Legionnaires’ disease and is regularly called upon to address outbreaks and risk prevention for his clients.


California Western School of Law (J.D., 2006)

University of California, San Diego (B.A., 2002)

Licensed to Practice in:


Practice Areas

Public Entity Defense
  • Representation of public entities in all aspects of litigation including construction claims and disputes, occupational exposure, bodily injury and wrongful-death actions.
  • Handling of matters in closed session under the Brown Act.
  • Defense of public entities in dangerous condition of public property claims, design claims, and premises liability actions.
  • Defense of personal injury actions stemming from roadway construction
    and design.
  • Prosecution and defense of claims for delay, liquidated damages, acceleration and inefficiency.
  • Defense of residential, commercial, and public owners and general contractors in complex, multi-party construction defect matters.
  • Prosecution and defense of mechanic’s lien, stop notice, and bond actions.
  • Prosecution and defense of change order and extra work claims.
  • Representation of design professionals in claims of professional negligence in design and observation.
  • Representation of owners and general contractors in contract termination and default disputes.
  • Transactional work, including negotiation and drafting of requests for proposal and bid documents, prime contracts, subcontracts, design professional agreements, and surety agreements.
Directors and Officers (D&O) Litigation
  • Defense of officers and directors from claims of breach of fiduciary duty and shareholder claims to disputes involving franchisors and franchisees.
  • Defense of wrongful termination, discrimination, disability, sexual harassment, and sexual orientation claims in state and federal court and arbitration.
  • Defense of wage and hour, overtime, missed meal break, and PAGA claims.
  • Representation of employers in DFEH, EEOC and EDD agency investigation and hearings.
  • Preventative HR counseling and guidance to employers relating to all aspects of the employee/employer relationship including, but not limited to, lawful hiring and firing procedures, wage and hour compliance, employee discipline and discharge, claim investigation and documentation, and compliance with state and federal laws.
Legionnaires’/Infectious Disease
  • Defense of claims for Legionellosis (e.g., Legionnaire’s disease and Pontiac Fever) due to exposure to Legionella by guests of hotels, hospitals, cruise ships and other facilities.
  • Defended hundreds of claims in multiple states in state and federal court due to alleged exposure to Legionella at a wide variety of properties.
  • Regularly speaks on the topic and hired by the largest hospitality companies in the nation to address outbreaks and risk management.
Mass Torts and Class-Action Defense
  • Defense of businesses and individuals against class action claims in state and federal court, including habitability and other claims arising out of the landlord-tenant relationship, consumer fraud, residential construction defects, and violations of California Business & Professions Code § 17200.
  • Defense of product manufacturers against toxic tort and product liability claims.
  • Handles a wide array of complex, multi-party actions in both state and federal court.
Professional Liability
  • Defense of attorneys in legal malpractice and state bar complaints.
  • Defense of home inspectors, termite companies, and real estate professionals in the sale and inspection of real estate.
  • Defense of public adjusters, insurance brokers, and claim professionals.
  • Defense of veterinarians and veterinary hospitals.
  • Defense of architects, engineers, and surveyors.
Real Estate and Land Use
  • Representation of residential homebuilders in defense of federal class action claims for fraud and unfair trade practices in sale of real estate.
  • Prosecution and defense of title actions, including easement and boundary disputes, lien claims, and foreclosures.
  • Representation of real estate agents and brokerages in the day to day transactions, disputes, and risk management involving residential real property.
  • Workouts on large commercial projects involving defunct owners with multiple pending stop notice and mechanic’s lien claims.
  • Work with receivers and takeover general contractors to complete failed construction projects.
  • Representation of residential homebuilders in securing and releasing entitlements, subdivision improvement agreements, and bonds.
  • Draft and review CC&R’s, SB 800 compliance documents, and purchase and sale agreements.
  • Representation of owners and tenants in negotiation and drafting of commercial leases and litigating commercial lease disputes.
  • Defense of property owners and managers against bodily injury and third party premises liability claims.
  • Representation of bus companies in accidents involving automobiles, pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists.
  • Defense of catastrophic injury claims stemming from collisions, including traumatic brain injury, vegetative state, and wrongful death claims.
  • Defense of motor carriers involved in collisions throughout state and federal court.
  • Familiarity with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and their impact and use in litigation.
  • Monitoring counsel for excess carriers on high exposure matters.
  • Retention as trial counsel at the 11th hour to handle transportation matters.


Covid-19 Hits the Construction Industry, Construction Claims Magazine (Summer 2020).

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Events, Seminars & Presentations

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Community Activities

Board of Directors for the March of Dimes (Inland Empire Chapter)

Event Chair, March of Dimes March for Babies Walk 2013


Adjunct Professor of California Construction Law, University of La Verne Law School

California Building Industry Association, Member

AGC of California, Member

Council on Litigation Management, Construction Committee, Member

California's Coalition for Adequate School Housing (CASH), Member

Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), Member

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Awards & Accomplishments

Super Lawyers Rising Star, 2015 - 2016

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