CASE STUDIES

Parrent Smith Investigations is a full service investigative agency. Our cases involve a variety of different industries and types of investigations. Below are a sampling of case studies from some of the diverse areas and situations where we have provided assistance to our clients. If a case study reminds you of a problem or legal action you are working on, please call us. If you don't see a case like the one you are involved in, that doesn't mean we haven't handled similar cases. We'd love to hear about your unique case.

Cases:

  • ASSET SEARCHES
    Summary: Our client, an insurance company, had secured a judgment for more than $500,000 against a cagey real estate developer who had multiple corporations and LLCs behind which he hid himself and his assets. Our investigation lasted several months because every time we located his new business and banking information, he would transfer all of the property and monies to a new entity. We eventually got ahead of his game by carefully reviewing his trash (which he placed at the curb) every Wednesday night. In spite of the hot pursuit by the insurance company, this con man forgot about using a shredder for his most important documents. We were able to coordinate the service of a writ of execution on his accounts at a brand new bank the very day that he opened them.
  • Summary: Our firm was retained by a client who, for many years, had been trying to collect on a judgment against a con artist who had induced him to make investments in a commodity trading scheme that was supposed to guarantee certain returns. Our client was convinced that this con artist had stashed money overseas. But we found out that the con artist was now a Hollywood producer. The full story...

    Summary: Our firm was hired by attorneys of the Casmalia Steering Committee representing the one of the many Potentially Responsible Parties in a lawsuit in which the Environmental Protection Agency was seeking cleanup settlements from the former owners of a hazardous waste site. One of the owners was asserting he was broke, but we were able to find assets he had not disclosed and prove that he had more than adequate resources to pay his share of the cleanup. This is an example of the kind of work our firm can provide litigators seeking to identify undisclosed or hidden assets of a party involved in a lawsuit. The full story...
  • BUSINESS INFORMATION CASE
    Summary:

    Our client company had developed a new product that was being used by serveral of its customers in chain retail outlets. The client was getting complaints from the customer companies that the product wasn't working properly. We were contacted by the client's legal team to obtain evidence on how the product was being used in the customers' retail outlets. Our investigation gave the client clear evidence that the customers' employees weren't using the new product correctly, which was the source of the problems they were having with the product. Our client offered new training for the customers' employees on how to use the product. This solved the problems and litigation over the product was avoided.

  • COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE
    Summary:
    A large company operating statewide in several service areas discovered that a smaller competitive company was developing a new client base in a particular niche service that had long been an almost exclusive niche for our client company.  The client company engaged us to find out more about the competitor’s activities in this area.  Through open source intelligence and other legal methods, we provided our client with the names of many of the competitor’s customers, giving our client insight into the competitors’ business strategy and helping our client protect its dominance in the niche area.
  • CRIMINAL DEFENSE
    Summary: Our client was involved in a two-car accident in which the other driver died. The CHP officer's report, which was very detailed with measurements, diagrams and photographs, and was 19 pages long, concluded that our client was at fault and recommended that she be prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter. Our investigation proved our client innocent.The full story...

    Summary: In this case in San Jose, CA, the District Attorney planned to charge our client with two counts of first-degree murder. After a verbal altercation with two Samoan men, our client shot and killed them both with a high-powered rifle. Our investigation helped the defense attorney make a reasonable argument for two second-degree murder charges rather than first degree. He was successful and the client pled guilty to those charges.The full story...

    Summary:A young man was accused of stealing electronic chips worth $50,000 from his employer, a firm in Santa Clara, CA. Based on the police investigation, the DA was ready to charge this employee with Grand Theft. Fortunately for him, the owner of the firm retained us to do a thorough investigation of the theft. We discovered the real thief, another employee, and the young man was not prosecuted.The full story...

  • EMPLOYMENT LITIGATION
    Summary: In this case, our firm discovered that the plaintiff in a sexual harassment action not only was a prostitute, but also had been an actress in at least one porno film. This information helped the defense reach a quick and mutually acceptable settlement with the plaintiff, whose attorney had referred to her as a "China Doll". This case is a colorful example of how employment cases can often be resolved prior to litigation, once the facts are uncovered.
    The full story...

  • FINANCIAL FRAUD / WERE EMPLOYEES COMPLICIT?
    Summary: A credit union faced losing over a million dollars from reclaimed Treasury checks deposited in a members account over the course of more than a year. The credit union hired us to find out if any employees were complicit in this complex fraud. The full story...

  • INSURANCE / WIRE FRAUD
    Summary: We handled the investigation and partial recovery of a $7 million dollar fraud perpetrated on an insurance company. We were able to provide information and evidence that led to the arrest of the person behind the scam and recover $3 million so far - the case is ongoing. It is an example of ways we can help attorneys with insurance, commercial and other business clients, as well as those involved in special investigations of a criminal nature. The full story...
  • PERSONAL INJURY
    Summary: In a personal injury case, our firm located and conducted an interview with a key witness of an accident. The way the interview was conducted made all the difference in helping our client obtain a favorable verdict.The full story...

    Summary: In a personal injury case, our firm helped our plaintiff client recover damages from a negligent apartment complex after she had been raped, beaten and left for dead. We used an "investigative blitzreig" to find the information needed to help her obtain a favorable settlement.The full story...
  • POLITICAL / BUSINESS
    Summary: A company that manufactured emergency cell phones suspected that they might not get the contract they were bidding on in a Southern California County because of a close friendship between one of the county supervisors and the owner of a competitive company. Our firm discovered that the competitive company had asked employees to make donations to that county supervisor's campaign and then had reimbursed those donations. This information was turned over to the attorneys for the company, and the company subsequently won the $20 million dollar contract. This case is an example of how good investigators can help business clients, as well as how we can offer support in sensitive political situations. The full story...
  • PRE-LITIGATION SUPPORT / NATIONAL SEX DISCRIMATION CASE
    Summary:Investigative agencies are not only valuable once litigation begins but can also be very helpful in determining whether or not to go forward with an action, as the following example shows. Our clients were two law firms representing a women's rights organization and several individual plaintiffs who were considering a sex discrimination suit against a well-known organization. We were able to find a great deal of evidence regarding the organization and its relationship to the county in which it was located. The attorneys, however, ultimately decided they did not have strong enough ground on which to go forward with the lawsuit.The full story...
  • SKIP TRACING / FINDING A SON
    Summary:We were contacted by a mother whose adult son had not been in contact with his parents for some time. Despite the fact that he was currently living "off the grid", we were able to locate him through diligent field work and the family was reunited. The son had been depressed because he lost a job and embarrased to contact home.
  • SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS / CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION
    Summary: The Chief Operating Officer of a non-profit charitable agency that works with children was arrested for child sexual abuse. The agency hired our firm to find out how much other staff members knew about him and whether the organization might be vulnerable to any lawsuits as a result of his actions. The full story...
  • SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS / FINDING A SEX ABUSE VICTIM
    Summary: Our client asked us to locate a former victim of child sexual abuse 12 years after the crime took place to determine what happened. The perpetrator was publicly claiming his innocence on a website. Although we did not have her name, after several attempts, we located the victim and interviewed her and her parents. We found that the stories of the victim and her parents all confirmed the perpetrator's guilt. The victim, who had just begun dealing with her childhood abuse, welcomed the opportunity to set the record straight.The full story...
  • SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS / MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT
    Summary
    :
    We were engaged by the Beverly Hills City Council to investigate why and how it happened that almost 100 trees were clear-cut on an arsenic-contaminated vacant lot owned by a private company without any public notice and possibly endangering public health. We interviewed 44 people, including City staff, the landowners, nearby residents, arborists, the Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) project manager for the site and the workers who removed the trees. We also reviewed thousands of documents, including emails and arborist reports. We prepared a report and timeline for the City with our conclusions about what happened and why it happened. The full story...
  • SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS / SAN FRANCISCO AIRPORT INVESTIGATION
    Summary: Unrest between members of two different unions at the San Francisco Airport had gotten so bad that an employee was afraid to come to work. Our investigators conducted over 100 interviews of employees in order to help resolve the issues that were causing the conflict and unrest. The full story...
  • SURVEILLANCE / STALKING A STALKER
    Summary: Our client was a very high-profile individual who was being harrassed by a former employee. We located the address and workplace of this individual and surveilled the subject until law enforcement got involved and the subject was arrested, tried and convicted.
  • SURVEILLANCE / ORDERED BY THE COURT
    Summary: In an unusual case, the Judge in a Worker's Compensation dispute ordered the insurance company to do overt surveillance on the subject, since the subject had complained about being frightened by ominous looking covert surveillance operatives hired by the insurance company. The attorneys for both sides proposed investigative companies to do the surveillance and the Judge selected our company. We complied with the request by the subject that we use female surveillance operatives and provided overt surveillance coverage almost everyday for over four months. Finally, after a successful settlement conference, the Judge allowed the insurance company to stop the surveillance.
  • WHITE COLLAR CRIME / CORPORATE FRAUD
    Summary: A San Francisco shipping company was concerned about its steeply escalating operating costs. The company executives felt they were missing about $2.5 million and worried that they were the possible victims of an internal fraud, although they had no suspects. They contacted their attorneys, who retained our firm. We were able to identify the fraud and the employee who had perpetrated it, as well as locate the bulk of the stolen money. This is an example of how our firm can help attorneys whose practice involves special investigations and white-collar crime and those whose clients include a wide range of business and commercial entities.The full story...

Environmental Cases:

Unlike many investigative agencies, we have vast experience in environmental litigation. Below is a sampling of some of the cases we've worked on in the environmental area:

  • ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH
    Summary:On an environmental case involving a large international port and an oil company, Parrent Smith investigators dug deeply and found information dating back to the early 1900s that helped our client win a favorable settlement of the case.The full story...

    Summary: In U.S. v Casmalia, a case in which the EPA was suing for funds to be used for the cleanup of a superfund site, our investigation into the financial condition of some of the parties who were making de minimus offers helped our client save significant sums by keeping those defendants in the PRP pool. (See also, Identifying Assets) The full story...

    Summary: A very large Semiconductor Company was sued under CERCLA for causing groundwater pollution in Phoenix, Arizona. Our investigators saved the Semiconductor Company the financial burden of the full clean-up by locating over 250 additional PRPs (Potentially Responsible Parties) to share in the clean-up.The full story...

    Summary:Our client, Caltrans (California Department of Transportation), was one of the Potentially Responsible Parties in the clean-up of a seven acre oil recycling facility in Fresno. Caltrans objected to the size of their share of the clean up initially proposed by the other PRP's and the EPA. After our investigation of the actual volume of oil contributed by Caltrans to the site, Caltans' allocation was reduced by over 60 percent.The full story...

    Summary:On a case involving a San Francisco contaminated site, we were able to help our client develop a larger PRP list through our well-developed interviewing techniques. This led to a more appropriate allocation of clean-up costs, saving our client a considerable amount.The full story...

    Summary: Our work, which provided factual information on the practices of each company on a 13-acre contaminated site in Morgan Hill, allowed our client, Standard Fusee, to be removed as a discharger for purposes of the clean-up orders of the Regional Water Quality Control Board. The full story...

    Summary:On an environmental case involving a residential neighborhood built on the site of a former oil reservoir and adjacent to an industrial area, Parrent Smith investigators provided our client with an investigative site history that identified numerous additional PRPs and their contributory activities.The full story...
  • ENVIRONMENTAL / TOXIC TORT
    Summary: Our firm was a lead investigative agency in Newman v. Stringfellow, one of the largest toxic tort trials in the U.S., with over 3,800 plaintiffs. By the time this landmark case went to trial, we had helped to substantially reduce the plaintiff pool. The full story...

    Summary: We were the lead investigators in a recent San Gabriel Valley groundwater toxic tort, with more than 1200 plaintiffs. As in the Stringfellow case, we were able to provide information that led to the settlement of many of the cases for greatly reduced dollar amounts.The full story...

    Summary:Our firm conducted background investigations on the plaintiffs in litigations in Fallon Nevada, the site of the U.S. Navy's "TOP GUN" flight school, as well as a childhood leukemia cancer cluster. Our investigation brought forth significant credibility issues.The full story...

    Summary:Our firm conducted an investigation in Solano County, California, where a housing development was built on a former landfill and several plaintiffs were suing the builder. After our research, including interviews with non-plaintiffs living in homes at the site, Counsel for the defendant housing corporation made a motion for summary judgment for the defendant, that was granted.The full story...
  • Summary:Our firm was the investigative agency for the defense in a cutting-edge toxic tort case against one of the pioneer Silicon Valley semiconductor companies.  The case, brought in California state court, arose out of claims that children of former employees were injured by their mothers’ preconception and in utero exposure to semiconductor chemicals. The original demand was for $10 million dollars. The full story...
  • ENVIRONMENTAL / PROPOSITION 65
    Summary: In a 2000 Proposition 65 case, our firm's meticulous investigation helped the plaintiff's prove damages and win their verdict. The full story...

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