“Successful results come from looking at the bottom line and focusing on my clients’ goals.”
In his three decades of legal practice, Sean Coughlin has focused his practice on complex business and real estate litigation, representing commercial real estate lenders and bankruptcy litigation matters. Coughlin approaches each matter with the goal of achieving the best possible business result. Coughlin has successfully litigated, arbitrated and tried hundreds of complex disputes in state court, federal court and bankruptcy court. He is admitted to all California Courts, several U.S. District Courts and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Coughlin has received an AV Preeminent® Peer Review rating from the Martindale Hubbell International Law Directory. This is the highest peer rating standard and is given to attorneys who are ranked at the highest level of professional excellence for their legal expertise, communication skills and ethical standards by their peers. He has also been listed in San Diego Magazine’s Top Lawyers in San Diego for real estate litigation every year since 2013.
Outside of his practice, Coughlin is involved in the Association of Business Trial Lawyers San Diego, San Diego Bankruptcy Forum and the San Diego County Bar Association.
701 Island Avenue, Suite 400
San Diego, CA 92101
- California Western School of Law, J.D., 1993
- University of San Diego, B.A., 1989
- Judicial Extern to the Hon. Louise DeCarl Adler, United States Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of California
- U.S. District Court, Southern California
- U.S. District Court, Central California
- U.S. District Court, Eastern California
- U.S. District Court, Northern California
- U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern California
- United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware – Pro Hac Vice
- U.S. Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit
- AV Preeminent® Peer Review rating, Martindale-Hubbell International Law Directory
- Real Estate Litigation, Best Lawyers: 2013-2023
- “Top Lawyers,” San Diego Magazine: 2013-2022
Industry & Community Involvement
- Association of Business Trial Lawyers San Diego
- San Diego Bankruptcy Forum
- San Diego County Bar Association
Litigation Practice Areas & Notable Cases
In the area of real estate litigation, Coughlin primarily represents clients in disputes over commercial real estate sales and leases.
- Prevailed at trial against guarantor of commercial lease which was modified with ambiguous handwritten notes. Successfully defended the judgment on appeal. Obtained a full recovery on the judgment for the client from an out of state defendant.
- Prevailed at trial on a quasi-contract claim on behalf of a contractor; obtained a judgment in the full amount of damages sought, plus attorneys’ fees, interest and penalties; collected full amount of the judgment from the defendant for the client.
Lender Liability Defense
Coughlin regularly represents commercial real estate lenders in all aspects of their business, including general business advice, lien priority disputes, foreclosures, litigation in bankruptcy court, and the defense of lawsuits filed by borrowers in state and federal court.
- Successfully defended claims for breach of fiduciary duty and wrongful foreclosure against a commercial lender by prevailing on demurrer. Successfully defended the judgment on appeal. Newman v. The Loan Company of San Diego, L.P. 2016 WL 7048006
- Defeated borrower’s attempt to obtain TRO restraining foreclosure on commercial property and ultimately obtained dismissal of Federal lawsuit against a lender for alleged federal regulatory violations following Motion to Dismiss. Acevedo v. The Loan Company of San Diego, L.P. 2020 WL 4596760.
- Obtained reversal on appeal for a lender of an adverse Superior Court ruling on the lender’s claims against an escrow company leading to a favorable settlement for the client. Bates v. Chicago Title Company, 2013 WL3753062.
- Obtained numerous favorable settlements for lenders sued for alleged regulatory and disclosure violations.
Business and Bankruptcy
Coughlin’s business litigation matters have ranged from relatively simple business disputes and contract disputes to complex corporate matters involving disputes between officers, directors, shareholders and other investors. Coughlin also has extensive experience in handling litigation in bankruptcy court, including the prosecution and defense of objections to claims, litigation involving fraudulent and preferential transfers, litigation involving the validity, priority, and extent of liens, stay relief litigation, representation of co-owners of estate assets, representing proposed buyers of bankruptcy estate assets, and representation of bankruptcy trustees.
- Obtained summary judgment for company on claims by departing employee and stockholder asserting excessive stock buyout price and various alleged claims for anticompetitive practices.
- Obtained complete defense verdict after trial for a law firm on claims by the law firm’s former client for alleged breach of fiduciary duty and fraud. The judgment also resulted in a ruling validating the law firm’s claim in excess of $800,000. Assisted the law firm in obtaining full recovery of the claim amount plus interest and attorneys’ fees.
- Successfully defeated an objection to a client’s claim in Bankruptcy Court on a disputed area of law (resulting in a reported decision). In re Van Buren Plaza (1996) 200 B.R. 384.
- Represented a commercial lender in a lien priority dispute related to its $600,000 loan (ultimately resulting in a reported appellate decision in the client’s favor and leading to a favorable settlement for the client). In re Mehdi Loloee (1998) 241 B.R. 655.
- In representing a Chapter 7 Trustee, obtained a 100% distribution to creditors (in what was scheduled as no asset estate) through successful prosecution of a fraudulent conveyance claim to recover financial assets transferred to an offshore entity.
- In representing a Chapter 7 Trustee, obtained a 100% distribution to creditors (in what was listed as a no asset estate) by obtaining rulings that the bankruptcy estate had an interest in a commercial building and by successfully negotiating the sale of the bankruptcy estate’s interest to the non-debtor co-owner of the building. The case involved successfully defending multiple appeals of the Bankruptcy Court’s rulings as to the bankruptcy estate’s interest in the commercial building and the order approving the sale of the building. In re Judith Jean Hoffman, 2015 WL 848992.
- Obtained a reversal on appeal of an adverse summary judgment ruling. Then obtained an affirmance of the reversal in a reported decision by the Chief Justice of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, leading to a favorable settlement for the client on the eve of trial. The reported decision resolved a number of outstanding areas of law in the Ninth Circuit, including the tolling of the statute of limitations for a Trustee to file an avoidance action for a concealed transfer. Gladstone v. U.S. Bancorp; et al. (2016) 811 F.3d 1133.
- Obtained a tentative ruling granting complete summary judgment for a client in the defense of a preferential transfer action filed by a bankruptcy trustee (leading to a favorable settlement for the client).