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Linda DeBene

Linda DeBene, Esq.

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Case Manager
Cindy Cravalho
T: 925-975-5738
F: 925-938-6732
1255 Treat Blvd. , Suite 700 , Walnut Creek , CA 94597

Linda DeBene, Esq. has litigated and resolved complex disputes in a wide variety of areas since 1978. Ms. DeBene’s 40 year legal career spans numerous ADR processes as well, having been selected or appointed as a mediator, arbitrator, special master, general and discovery referee, or judge pro-tem in nearly all types of civil cases since 1986.  Her extensive experience and strong management skills make her particularly efficient in settling complex, multiple party disputes.  Linda’s business acumen and attention to detail provide her great insight in cases with overlapping, oftentimes conflicting legal issues.  Ms. DeBene is involved in numerous organizations which foster neutral involvement and support in judicial reference matters, including the Academy of Court Appointed Masters (ACAM), as well being accredited by the Sedona Conference on e-discovery dispute resolution.

Representative Matters

Banking/Financial:

    • Mediated and litigated disputes over equitable subrogation claims; fraud and breach of fiduciary duty by in-house lending broker; erroneous credit reporting; improper handling (lost) safe deposit box, check fraud, wrongful conversion of account funds by refusal to transfer at customer direction; fair debt collection issues; improper foreclosure sales, wrongful foreclosure claims, foreclosure/sold out junior issues, bait-and-switch mortgage advertising
    • Mediated claims involving breach of contract to make loan; guarantees; tiered encumbrance reallocation arrangement in action for forgery of deed of trust; and Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) issue

Business/Commercial:

  • Business Acquisitions:
    • Mediated and litigated disputes over purchase of various types of businesses including law practices, child care facilities, mini-marts and gas stations, restaurants, delicatessens, dry cleaners, and auto dealerships
  • Business Competition/Trade Secrets/Intellectual Property:
    • Discovery and settlement referee on trade secrets and  intellectual property trade secrets case
    • Mediated and settled matters involving theft of customers, theft of customer lists, dispute over ownership rights in patented product, non-compete agreements, copyright infringement involving architectural plan use by time share developer
  • Corporate and Partnerships:
    • Advocated and advised scores of corporate and partnership participants from formation, to day-to-day business transactions, employment issues, lending decisions, dissolution, and civil and criminal litigation since 1978
    • Mediated and arbitrated business disputes between partners, limited partners, and corporate shareholders
    • Arbitrated to judgment partnership dissolution matter involving law partners. Mediated to settlement various partnership dissolution and breach of agreement claims, and partnership accounting issues

Construction:

  • As Special Master, settled commercial office building CD case with complex insurance related issues
  • As Special Master & Discovery Referee: settled multi-million dollar single-family home cases with numerous tiers of owners, remodel at pre- and post-mold remediation stages, brokers, mold property damage and personal injury claims, non-disclosure and fraud, construction defect, and insurance issues
  • Mediated to settlement, single-family home case involving pier slippage/foundation distress with resultant infrastructure claims for interior and exterior damage, and numerous insurance issues
  • Mediated and arbitrated both public and private contract disputes involving: public works, school construction projects, easement & roadway issues, general vs. subcontractor collections claims regarding Hetch-Hetchy Dam, mechanics liens, stop notices, and delay & damage claims

Employment:

  • Mediated to settlement racial harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and other wrongful termination, wage/severance package claim and ERISA cases, including some with related defamation claims
  • Mediated to settlement employer claim for embezzled funds cross-claim for defamation and extortion

Professional Liability:

  • Mediated to settlement professional negligence claims involving attorneys, doctor, accountant, mortgage brokers, appraisal services, engineers, as well as architects and other design professionals
  • Mediated resolutions in matters involving developer vs. security guard company for alleged avoidable property damages, school district vs. workers compensation administration firm, against funeral company, and involving mortgage broker and appraisal services firms

Public Utility:

  • Settled state lands commission and city/county agencies dispute over adverse possession claims
  • Mediated to settlement varied public utility claims involving utility vs. utility property damage, utility vs. supplier of defective materials
  • Settled state parks department dispute with private property owner regarding the latter’s unilateral expansion of easements, encroachment of park property, and unauthorized construction
  • Defended through negotiated settlement (in favor of all defending developers and construction parties) a public water utility initiated, multi-party suit involving manifested "blue water" in hundreds of single-family homes

Real Property:

  • Sales, Contract, Broker Disputes: Mediated to settlement residential, multi-family, and commercial claims of fraud or non-disclosures, contract interpretation, for return of deposit, for specific performance, and other breach of contract assertions. Mediated and arbitrated residential fraud matters involving broker claims of breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and fraud
  • Adjoining Property and Joint Ownership: Mediated to settlement varied partition, quiet title, easement, view corridor, use restriction, trespass, common roadway maintenance agreement, landscape easement, lot line adjustment, and property line dispute matters. Mediated to settlement joint real property ownership disputes involving unrelated joint owners, familial owners, "Marvin" owner/partners, some with added claims of breach of fiduciary duty and embezzlement claims over inherited property
  • Commercial Leasing: Mediated to settlement disputes over first right of refusal/option, mold claims, restaurant roof and utility repair. Arbitrated to judgment fair market value of airport/restaurant lease dispute. As Superior Court judge pro tem tried to judgment (affirmed on appeal) landlord claim for waste with tenant affirmative defense claims for breach of option to purchase. Advocated to settlement manufacturer/auto dealer and city/auto dealership takings issues. Commercial lease negotiations/litigation as landlord/tenant advocate

Securities:

  • White Collar criminal defense litigation involving wire fraud, mail fraud, abuse of trust, and conspiracy to inflate revenues charges with related SEC claims and discovery issues involving prosecution of employees of international network manufacturing/distributing company
  • Member, Academy of Court-Appointed Masters, 2008 - present; Board of Directors and Membership Chair, 2011 - present, (www.courtappointedmasters.org)
  • Accredited at The Sedona Conference: E-Discovery Dispute Resolution Program for Special Masters & Mediators, January 2010
  • Admitted to Practice California, 1977; Florida, 1971 (inactive); U.S. Supreme Court, 1978
  • Real Estate Broker, California, 1987 - present
  • Appellate Mediator for the First District Court of Appeals; Third District Court of Appeals; and Northern District, California – Federal ADR Mediator Program
  • Completed over 340 hours of ADR training in a variety of areas including special master, e-discovery, mediation, arbitration, negotiation skills, and specific practice areas
  • Recipient of inaugural "Service to the Judiciary" award, Contra Costa County Bar Association, 1999
  • Frequent Lecturer: JAMS presentations, Contra Costa County Bar Association's ADR Committee and Real Estate Section; State Bar Real Estate Retreat
  • Author of various subprime, real estate and ADR-related articles
  • JAMS Neutral, 2005 to present
  • Private Practice, Real Estate , Construction, and Commercial Transaction and Litigation, 1978 - 2005
  • Felony and Appellate Prosecuting Attorney, State of Florida, County of Broward, 1972 - 1977
  • Associate, Private Firm, 1971 - 1972
  • J.D., Stetson College of Law, St. Petersburg, FL, 1971
  • B.A., Stetson University, DeLand, FL, 1968

Counsel Comments

    "Linda DeBene's abilities are superlative, with the legal expertise, interpersonal skills, organization and determination to bring the most complex cases to resolution." - prominent Bay Area Plaintiff’s Counsel

    “Linda DeBene is one of the most thoughtful, hardworking mediators in the business… [She] engages the parties, discusses the strengths/weaknesses of the case and creates conditions that foster settlements. In every case, I have come away either with a settlement or a far better appreciation of my case.”- prominent East Bay Partner 

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