Founding Partner

Stephen J. Henning


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

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Stephen J. Henning is a co-founder of Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman LLP, an AmLaw 150 law firm with 31 offices throughout the United States. Steve is a skilled litigator, nationally recognized for results in complex construction, habitability, real estate, business and toxic tort litigation. He regularly represents Fortune 500 companies and preeminent members of the business community, including some of the nation’s largest residential and commercial public and private owners, homebuilders, developers, investors, contractors and lenders. Additionally, Steve has a thriving practice focused on public entities, handling all facets of litigation and risk management pertaining to construction and toxic tort issues. He is regularly called upon by public and private employers for both advice in risk management and aggressive representation in claims involving employment issues, from internal complaints, to administrative charges, to litigated matters involving allegations related to executive compensation, discrimination and whistle-blower protections. Steve received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Nebraska, where he competed on the National Trial team.

In addition to his extensive legal practice, he regularly gives back to the community by taking on leadership positions in several national and local charities. Steve served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the March of Dimes, and he is a founding Board member and past President of the Construction Defect Community Charitable Foundation. He was also on the Board of Directors for both the Alzheimer’s Association. He currently serves on the Board of Levitt & Quinn, a public aid law firm providing legal services to people in need. Steve is proud to be the first defense lawyer awarded the Jerold S. Oliver Award for his contributions to the construction-defect community. An AV-rated lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell, for the past ten years he has been selected for inclusion as either a “Rising Star” or “Super Lawyer.” Steve is also a proud recipient of CLM’s 2019 Outside Counsel Professional of the Year Award.


University of Nebraska at Lincoln College of Law (J.D., )

University of Nebraska (B.S., )

Licensed to Practice in:


Practice Areas

  • Representation of builders, contractors, and lenders in all aspects of construction-related claims and litigation.
  • Defense of builders and developers in high-profile claims involving mechanic’s liens, product liability, easements, real estate issues, and punitive damages.
  • Transactional experience drafting contracts and risk-management protocols.
Professional Liability
  • Handling of professional liability matters involving defense of directors and officers, real estate and insurance brokers and agents, design professionals, and healthcare professionals.
  • Represent business entities in all facets of employment litigation, from administrative charges to claims of wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment.
  • Regularly called upon by employers for risk management consultations as to best practices.
Toxic Tort and Occupational Exposure
  • Representation of Fortune 500 companies, builders, contractors, school districts, government entities, real estate brokers, and commercial and residential property owners and managers.
  • Defense of a wide variety of toxic tort cases including those involving chemicals, asbestos and mold, with an emphasis on risk management.
  • National coordinating counsel enabling clients to avoid claims and minimize litigation.
  • Litigation and risk management on behalf of businesses, developers and contractors regarding all facets of toxic tort and environmental exposures.
Public Entity Defense
  • Representation of public entities in all aspects of litigation including construction and occupational exposure claims and disputes.
  • Representation of public housing authorities and risk retention pools in wide range of complex civil litigation involving habitability, toxic tort, occupational exposure, employment and contract based claims.
  • Published and Reported Decisions:
    • Promenade at Playa Vista Homeowners Assn. v. Western Pacific Housing, Inc. (2011) 200 Cal.App.4th 849 [133 Cal.Rptr.3d 41] review granted and opinion superseded, (Cal. 2012) 136 Cal.Rptr.3d 667.
    • Shapell Industries, Inc. v. Superior Court, 132 Cal. App. 4th 1101 (Cal. Ct. App. 2005).
    • Mayer v. C.W. Driver, 98 Cal. App. 4th 48 (Cal. Ct. App. 2002).
    • Hampton Bay Court Association, Inc. v. Storm/Western Development, 2006 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 5646 (California Unpublished Opinions 2006).
    • Chelsea Court Condo. Homeowners Association, Inc. v. WNP Construction, 2004 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2787 (California Unpublished Opinions 2004).
Mass Torts and Class-Action Defense
  • Defense of business entities and individuals against class-action claims, including habitability and other claims arising in landlord/tenant relationships, consumer fraud and violations of California Business & Professions Code § 17200.
Product Liability
  • Defense of manufacturers, distributors and retailers against injury, property-damage and loss claims allegedly due to defects in product manufacture and design.
Property Management and Tenant Litigation
  • Defense of all facets of habitability, retaliation, discrimination claims.
  • Representation of risk retention pools members and public housing authorities in all aspects of litigation.
  • Defense of owners, real estate investment trusts, property managers in wide range of legal matters to protect their financial rights, property and interests including civil code violations, retaliation claims, discrimination and habitability matters.


One Drink Too Many: A Recent Decision Highlights Expanding Scope of Dram Shop Liability, CLM Magazine (December 2021)

The Return of Mold: Early Signs Point to a Potential New Wave of Lawsuits, Construction Claims Magazine (Winter 2021)

A Roundup of Covid-19 Litigation, CLM Magazine (December 2020)

Can Covid-19 Liability Be Waived?,  Risk Management Magazine (September 1, 2020)

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

Virtually Accessible: A Recent Supreme Court Action Opens the Door to ADA Lawsuits Over Website Accessibility, CLM Magazine (November 2019)

The Natural Progression of Natural Disasters, CLM’s Construction Claims Magazine (Summer 2019)

Handling Mold Litigation in California, CEB Action Guide, Continuing Education of the Bar, 3rd, 4th & 5th Editions (2005, 2007 and 2015)

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Trial & Appellate Results

Promenade at Playa Vista Homeowners Assn. v. Western Pacific Housing, Inc. (2011) 200 Cal.App.4th 849 [133 Cal.Rptr.3d 41] review granted and opinion superseded, (Cal. 2012) 136 Cal.Rptr.3d 667.

Shapell Industries, Inc. v. Superior Court, 132 Cal. App. 4th 1101 (Cal. Ct. App. 2005).

Mayer v. C.W. Driver, 98 Cal. App. 4th 48 (Cal. Ct. App. 2002).

Hampton Bay Court Association, Inc. v. Storm/Western Development, 2006 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 5646 (California Unpublished Opinions 2006).

Chelsea Court Condo. Homeowners Association, Inc. v. WNP Construction, 2004 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2787 (California Unpublished Opinions 2004).

California Jury Returns Defense Verdict in Closely Watched Asbestos Trial

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Events, Seminars & Presentations

Co-Chair, 2020 CLM National Construction Conference (October, 2020)

Co-Chair, 2019 CLM National Construction Conference, San Diego (October, 2019)

Disasters in the Making – Litigation Impacts from Fire, Flood and Hurricanes, West Coast Casualty Conference, Anaheim (May, 2019)

Game Changing Trends Impacting Construction Litigation: Strategies and Practice Pointers for 2019 and Beyond, DRI Construction Conference (2019)

Changing Face of Construction Litigation: Emerging Trends Which Are Disrupting the Industry, CLM Annual Conference (2019)

Emerging Issues in Habitability Litigation, Indianapolis (November, 2019)

Co-Chair, 2018 CLM National Construction Conference, Chicago (October, 2018)

Strategies and Practice Pointers for Emerging Issues in Habitability and Hospitality Claims (Denver, October 2018)

Building Collapse Issues: Intersection of Construction Defect and Catastrophic Injury, CLM National Construction Conference (2018)

Co-Chair, 2017 CLM National Construction Conference, San Diego (October, 2017)

Co-Chair, 2016 CLM National Construction Conference, San Diego (September, 2016)

Emerging Trends in Construction and Litigation:  National Overview, Premier Panel, CLM National Construction Conference (September, 2016)

Legalized Marijuana:  Will the Insurance Industry Inhale, CLM Southern California Conference (July, 2015)

Utilizing Technology in Litigation:  Cutting Edge Strategies for Handling and Disposition of Litigated Matters, West Coast Casualty Seminar, Anaheim, California (May, 2015)

Social Media and Litigation:  Ethical Landmines, Admissibility at Trial and Emerging Issues in Litigation, CLM Annual Conference, 2015

Legalized Marijuana – Will the Insurance Industry Inhale, Southern California Conference, CLM (Irvine, 2015)

Cannabis: Legal Issues Emanating from the Legalization of Marijuana: Impacts on Employment, Insurance, Products Liability and Litigation, CLM (Los Angeles, 2015)

Use of Technology at Trial, West Coast Casualty Seminar, Anaheim, California (May, 2014)

What the Future Holds for Construction Defect Litigation in 2013 and Beyond, West Coast Casualty Seminar, Anaheim, California (May, 2013)

“Social Media – Who’s Peeking into Your Privacy” and “Effective Mediation Techniques”, CLM Seminar, San Francisco (May, 2, 2013)

Effective Use of Social Media to Develop Critical Evidence to Win Your Case: Practice Pointers and Pitfalls in Investigating Fraudulent Claims. Southern California Fraud Investigators Conference (November, 2012)

Building Product Failures – Leading to Class Action Lawsuits? MC2 18th Annual West Region Construction & Insurance Coverage Conference (September 20, 2012)

Social Networking Sites: Strategies, Ethical Pitfalls and Practice Pointers for Litigating and Winning Your Case, West Coast Casualty Seminar, Anaheim, California (May, 2012)

Microbial Contamination Issues: A Primer for Mold Claims, The Brief (ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Section), Fall 2003, at p. 22

Mold Contamination: Liability and Coverage Issues: Essential Information You Need to Know for Successfully Handling and Resolving Any Claim Involving Toxic Mold, 8 Hastings W.-N.W. J. Envtl. L. & Pol’y 73 (2001)

Emerging Trends in Complex Commercial Litigation, Atlanta, Georgia (March, 2012)

Ethical and Practical Issues Raised in Litigation and Investigation, Presented to CPCU Society (September 15, 2011)

Ethical Issues Relating to Additional Insured Endorsements / Insurance Coverage, MC2 Seminar, San Diego, California (September, 2011)

Internet and Social Networking Sites: Ethical Issues in Investigating and Litigating Your Case, West Coast Casualty Seminar, Anaheim California (May 12, 2011)

Navigating California’s Right to Repair and SB 800, Woodland Hills, California (April, 2008)

Commercial Litigation Emerging Trends: Views from Trenches, San Ramon, California (April, 2008)

Strategies for Success: Resolving Construction Claims, West Coast Seminar (May, 2007)

Management of Complex Construction Litigation – Views from the Bench and Bar, AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, Judicial Education Program, Washington, D.C. (2007)

Scenes from the Courtroom: Keys to Success in Winning the Judge and Jury, San Francisco, California (May 2, 2006)

Panelist: Management of Complex Construction Cases, AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, Judicial Education Program, Irvine, California (2005)

Successfully Defending High Exposure Occupational Exposure Claims, Newport Beach, California (December, 2005)

Survival Guide to Additional Insured Endorsements: Recent Developments and Trends, West Coast Seminar, Anaheim, California (2005)

Recurring Issues in Additional Insured Litigation – Panel Discussion, Manchester, New Hampshire (February 1, 2005)

Mold Remediation Litigation in California, Costa Mesa, California (December, 2005)

Litigation Strategies in Complex Mold Litigation, Marina Del Rey, California (June, 2005)

Strategies and Techniques for Defending a Construction Defect / Mold Claim, Mealey’s Litigation Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana (April, 2004)

Developments in Litigation Involving Attached Housing, Marsh Seminar, Los Angeles (March, 2004)

Indoor Air Quality – Defense of the Occupational Exposure Case, Long Beach, California (2004)

Trials of Mold Bodily Injury Cases – Diving into the Minds of the Jury, West Coast Casualty Construction Defect Seminar, Anaheim (2003)

Conference Chair: Mealey’s Construction and Mold Litigation Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada (December, 2003)

Conference Chair: Mealey’s Mold Litigation Conference, San Diego, California (February, 2003)

Handling Mold Litigation in California, CEB Action Guide (Summer, 2003)

Defending the Toxic Mold Claim, Keynote Presenter. Seminar given throughout United States and United Kingdom (2002 and 2003)

WSHB Attorney to Speak at 2015 CLM Southern California

WSHB’s Stephen Henning to Speak at West Coast Casualty’s Construction Seminar

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Community Activities

Trustee, University of Nebraska Foundation

Past Chairman of the Board of Directors, March of Dimes

Past Board of Directors Member, Alzheimer’s Association

Past President, Board of Governors, Levitt & Quinn (public aid law firm)

Past Board Member, and past President, Construction Defect Community Charitable Foundation

Event Chair, March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction 2011 and 2012

Board of Advisors – University of Nebraska College of Law Entrepreneurship Clinic

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Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America, Trial Lawyer Honorary Society

Board Member and Director of Education, Council on Litigation Manager Los Angeles

Member, Council on Litigation Management Alliance

Member, California Building Industry Association Legal Action Subcommittee

Member, Defense Research Institute

Member, Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS)

Member, National Association of Home Builders Construction Law Attorney Forum

Member, Building Industry Association of Southern California

Member, Association of Southern California Defense Counsel (ASCDC)

Member, AGC Legal Advisory Committee

Member, Risk and Insurance Management Society, Inc. (RIMS)

Former Member, Mealey’s Toxic Tort Advisory Council

Corporate Counsel — Construction Litigation, 2010

Nebraska Law College Alumni Council

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Awards & Accomplishments

AV Preeminent Lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell

Named Southern California Super Lawyer, 2006 - 2020, 2022

Claims & Litigation Management Alliance, Outside Counsel Professional of the Year Award, 2019

Named as Top Attorney by Pasadena Magazine, 2013 - 2020, 2022

Top Attorneys in Southern California by Los Angeles Magazine, 2007 - 2020

Jerrold S. Oliver Award of Excellence (first defense attorney recognized for contributing to improvement of construction-defect community), 2002

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