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Hunt Ortmann Palffy Nieves Darling & Mah, INC.


the cornerstone of construction law

Hunt Ortmann is one of the foremost authorities on California construction law, contracts, dispute resolution and litigation offering additional legal services in the areas of business and commercial law, employment matters and labor law compliance, real estate, insurance and suretyship.

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Kathlynn E. Smith




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Kathlynn Smith is a shareholder with Hunt Ortmann with extensive experience representing the construction industry in complex construction litigation and transactional matters. For over 10 years, Ms. Smith’s practice has been devoted to representing owners, developers, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers on both public and private works of improvement in a wide variety of matters from project inception through trial. In particular, Ms. Smith has successfully represented her clients in the litigation and arbitration of claims involving scope of work disputes, delay and disruption, mechanic’s liens and stop notices, payment and performance bonds, bid protests, and construction defects. In addition, Ms. Smith is experienced in drafting and reviewing construction contracts, contract administration, and drafting procurement documents. Ms. Smith has successfully resolved complex construction disputes involving multi-million dollar claims as well as assisted her clients procure or negotiate contracts for large complex public and private works of improvement.

Ms. Smith is a frequent presenter and author on various topics related to or that impact the construction industry. Ms. Smith also is the co-author of the “Smart Girls’ Guide To Construction Law” and architect of the “Smart Girls’” initiative directed at women-owned and/or operated companies in the construction industry.

Prior to joining Hunt Ortmann, Ms. Smith represented public agencies and property owners in connection with direct and inverse condemnations of commercial and residential properties. Ms. Smith also represented lenders in litigation involving real property, including breach of contract, judicial foreclosure, forfeiture, quiet title, and fraud actions.


  • University of San Diego School of Law, J.D., cum laude
  • University of Michigan, Bachelor of Arts

Bars + Courts

  • California
  • United States District Court of California, Southern
  • United States District Court of California, Central
  • United States District Court of California, Northern
  • United States District Court of California, Eastern
Practice Areas
  • Construction Disputes and Litigation
  • Public Works Claims
  • Construction Agreements
  • Public Entity Representation
  • Real Estate Law
  • Business and Commercial Disputes
  • Engineering Contractors Association- Board of Directors (2012-2014)
  • Women Construction Owners and Executives
  • National Association of Women in Construction- Legislative Awareness Committee Chair (2010-2011)
  • Certified Plumbers and Mechanical Contractors Association
  • United States Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Advocate Member (2011-2012)
  • Design Build Institute of America
  • Los Angeles County Parks Association- Board of Directors
  • University of Michigan Alumni Association
  • California State Bar Association
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association
  • Association of Business Trial Lawyers
  • Selected as Super Lawyer 2019 – 2020
  • Selected as Super Lawyers Rising Star 2014
  • Women Construction Owners and Executives Member of the Year 2013
  • Los Angeles Business Journal Women Making a Difference Nominee 2012
  • Pasadena Top Attorney sponsored by Pasadena Magazine 2011 – 2014

Kathlynn E. Smith

Rated by Super Lawyers

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Representative Work


  • Obtained verdict in favor of project owner in a bench trial establishing that a general contractor was unlicensed and willfully violated the Contractors Licensing Laws.
  • Obtained verdict in favor of general contractor against project owner and its mechanics lien release bond surety following three week bench trial, including a total defense verdict on owner’s cross-complaint.
  • Successfully resolved complex, multi-million dollar construction litigation on behalf of a government agency, which involved breach of contract claims, including scope of work disputes and damages for delay, as well as allegations of the contractor’s violation of the California False Claims Act.
  • Successfully settled multimillion dollar action on behalf of public agency following termination of general contractor following claims of design defect, impossibility, and commercial impracticability.
  • Settled contract and construction defect claims on a series of projects calling for the installation of support structure for photovoltaic solar system on the campuses of a large private hospital.
  • Successfully appealed judgment against commercial landlord for compensatory and punitive damages.
  • Successfully obtained writ of mandate from Court of Appeal that reversed a trial court’s order sustaining a demurrer to general contractor’s cause of action for violation of California’s Prompt Payment Statutes without leave to amend.
  • Successfully resolved through pre-litigation mediation a multi-million dollar dispute between a hotel developer and steel contractor that included claims of defective design, delay, and loss of productivity.
  • Successfully assisted engineering contractor resolve dispute with public agency regarding claims of differing site conditions prior to initiation of lawsuit.
  • Successfully assisted large glazing subcontractor present and settle close out claim for additional work and schedule delays and inefficiencies.
  • Successfully appealed to the Federal Department of Transportation a wrongful denial by Caltrans of a steel contractor’s application for certification as a woman-owned business.
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