Charles S. Custer

Partner

  • Office Contact Info
  • Biography

    Chuck Custer is a senior partner at Gordon & Rees with extensive trial experience taking over 20 jury trials (State and Federal) throughout California to verdict.  Mr. Custer is the National Practice Group Leader of Gordon & Rees's Tort and Product Liability Defense practice group.  His practice focuses on litigation and negotiation of high exposure, catastrophic and complex injury cases in the fields of products liability, general liability, premises liability, food contamination, major trucking/transportation, security/law enforcement, construction site accidents, maritime injuries and sports/recreational injuries. Mr. Custer has a technical educational background as an engineer, graduating in 1979 from U.C.L.A. with a B.S. in Engineering. 

    Admissions

    California

    Memberships

    American Bar Association
    Defense Research Institute (DRI)
    Northern California Association of Defense Counsel
    Bar Association of San Francisco (former member of the Board of Directors of the Barristers Division, served as Chairman of the Judges' Dinner Committee)

    Community Involvement

    Mr. Custer also has been active in the United Way of the Bay Area, serving as a board member since 2006 and chairing Gordon & Rees's award-winning campaigns for several years.

  • Practice Areas
  • Representative Experience

    Representative Experience

    Examples of Mr. Custer's extensive experience includes the following: 

    1. Mr. Custer successfully defended a national manufacturer of scaffolding equipment in a four week jury trial in Sacramento Superior Court. The product liability action involved the collapse of an elevated power driven scaffold from which several workers fell suffering significant personal injuries. The claims against Gordon & Rees's client totaled $2.1 Million and involved complicated issues of employer and comparative negligence, contractual indemnity and mechanical and metallurgic engineering principles. The jury deliberated less than three hours finding employer fault. Gordon & Rees's client paid no damages.


    2. Mr. Custer also obtained a defense verdict in a products liability jury trial in Santa Clara County Superior Court. Gordon & Rees’s client was the manufacturer of fire sprinklers. Plaintiff claimed damages seeking over $3 million for an alleged defect causing fire sprinkler heads to activate. The jury returned a defense verdict in thirty minutes.


    3. Mr. Custer successfully resolved a high-profile matter involving a Siberian tiger that escaped its enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo and attacked three people. One victim died and two others suffered various injuries. After the attack, the zoo hired public relations firm Singer & Associates, Inc., which announced that the victims taunted the tiger prior to the attack. The parents of the deceased victim sued the zoo and the City and County of San Francisco for negligence, and Singer & Associates for defamation and sought damages for medical costs and pain and suffering. Separately, the two surviving victims sued Singer & Associates for defamation. The case received extensive international media attention. The parents of the deceased victim and the surviving victims reached confidential settlements at mediation.


    4. In a Federal Court action tried in San Jose, Mr. Custer obtained a defense verdict for his client who was a pesticide company. Plaintiff claimed injuries as a result of ingesting a pesticide product and claimed significant injuries and damages. The jury returned a defense verdict in favor of Mr. Custer’s client. An appeal was taken to the Ninth Circuit. Mr. Custer successfully defeated the appeal.
  • Education

    Education

    J.D., University of Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, 1986

    • Comments Editor, Pacific Law Journal, published comment  

    B.S., Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, 1979

    Honors

    Top Rated Lawyer-AV® Preeminent™,
    Martindale-Hubbell

    The Best Lawyers in America© distinction in Product Liability Litigation - Defendants (2016-2020)

    Super Lawyers® distinction in the fields of General Litigation and Civil Litigation Defense (2004, Law & Politics)