Linda DeBene, Esq.

T: 925-938-5060
F: 925-938-6732
Construction Defect
Linda DeBene, Esq. brings a 40-year legal career as a litigator, advocate, and adviser in the construction field to the JAMS panel of neutrals. Linda has over 35 years of experience in the construction field as a litigator and transactional advocate for both construction industry clients such as developers, general contractors, subcontractor, and designers, and as a representative of homeowners in residential construction disputes, most often resolving those disputes through mediated settlements. Both as an advocate and neutral, Linda has worked for plaintiffs and construction defendants seeking resolutions of matters through ADR processes, as well as litigation.

Ms. DeBene has been selected or appointed and served as a neutral in well over 900 disputes, with strong emphasis on construction, engineering and infrastructure, and real estate matters, working both as a private and court-program ADR provider. Since 1986, she has been involved as a stipulated and court appointed Special Master, Discovery Referee, Superior Court trial judge pro-tem, mediator, and arbitrator. Linda brings legal advocacy skills in negotiating and settling complex construction defect cases to her ADR practice, having been involved in both individual plaintiff affirmative claims and construction defense in construction defect, contract, landslide/subsidence, contract collection, and faulty workmanship matters, as well as transactional negotiations, since 1978.

Representative Matters

Contracts:

  • Mediated to settlement and arbitrated to judgment over 200 construction related contract disputes, payment disputes (with and without mechanics lien claims), remodel disputes, indemnity claims, delay claims, subrogation claims, and insurance bad faith issues. Since 1978, involved in writing and negotiating all manner of construction contracts for construction industry

E&O Claims:

  • Settled through mediation $5 million cost overrun claim against architect for delay and professional negligence in connection with asserted $10 million budgeted contract for construction
  • Mediated to settlement $2.7+ million claim against civil engineering firm and surveyor for negligence in design and staking of 160-unit apartment development
  • Mediated to settlement developer claims vs. civil engineer; developer claims vs. independent contractor performing faulty customer service work and over-billing; developer claims vs. design professionals and installers over failed roadway; developer claims vs. design professionals for delay in hotel project
  • Mediated to settlement fee claim of civil engineer/land surveyor against various public agencies over development of petrochemical railroad transfer terminal
  • Mediated to settlement E&O claim by City against multi-disciplined professional design firm on recreational public works project

Product Claims:

  • Mediated to settlement claim by Silicon Valley computer giant for unoccupied commercial building damage from water heater failure. Parties/issues involved national manufacturer, supplier, architect/designer, and plumbing contractor

Development Negotiation:

  • As mediator, negotiated to settlement disputes involving development of various residential and commercial properties, including reimbursement by one developer to another for road improvements, contract disputes between property sellers and developers on land acquisitions, property line disputes, construction contract disputes between developer and end-user general contractors

Multi-Unit, Multi-Story Residential Buildings:

  • Mediated to settlement 116-unit apartment building infrastructure dispute for faulty workmanship and delay damages
  • Mediated to settlement various multi-unit rental property construction defect claims and claims related to work performed without permit
  • Mediated to settlement various HOA common area defect claims (attached and detached product)

Public Construction:

  • Mediated public school construction delay claim
  • Mediated to settlement delay damage claim by contractor vs. subcontractor on dam project
  • Arbitrated dispute between school district and general contractor over faulty work
  • Mediated to settlement dispute between property developers, state, city and county agencies over adverse possession, easement and monetary claims on historic property site

Residential Mold:

  • Mediated to settlement various mold related cases both as Special Master, mediator, and advocate, including fungal growth (mushrooms) manifesting on interior surfaces; mold growing (medically documented) on face of plaintiff; BI claims to adult plaintiffs as well as minors (18 month old with immune system problems from birth; documented mold allergies of teenager preceding mold manifestation)
  • Arbitrated to judgment real estate non-disclosure case involving investment property and mold

Single-Family Home Developments/Condominium/Townhome Projects:

  • As a §638 Special Master for Settlement, settled soil preparation and construction claims on large insurance subrogation claims against a single-family home developer and others
  • Mediated to settlement 46-unit condo project infrastructure dispute for construction defects and delay damage
  • As construction industry party advocate, litigated numerous 25+unit CD cases through settlement in special master proceedings, mediation, and litigation
  • Developments crossed the spectrum of single-family homes, townhomes, and multi-story condo buildings
  • As developer/general contractor advocate, in litigation and special master proceedings, defended to settlement in favor of all defending developer and construction parties a public water utility initiated multi-party suit involving manifested "blue water" in hundreds of single-family homes. Amounts in controversy and settlement dollars well exceeded seven figures (confidential)

Single-Family Home:

  • Mediated to settlement claim for rescission of “bad house” case. Near end of 10-year SOL owner claimed total failure of consideration
  • As Special Master, obtained neutral supervised settlement in excess of $2.0 million on 17-party single-family home case involving original builder, 3 tiers of owners, remodel contractors of prior owners, brokers, construction defect and termite inspection & repair claims, active fraud, and numerous insurance issues
  • As Special Master/Discovery Referee, settled single-family home case in excess of $500K involving 2 tiers of owners, brokers, 2 separate mold remediations with remodel contracting pre- and post-remediation, mold-related property damage and personal injury claims, non-disclosure, construction defect claims, and varied insurance issues
  • Mediated to settlement single-family home case involving complicated insurance claims, lack of coverage by insolvent carriers, and CIGA involvement
  • Mediated to $605K settlement, single-family home case involving pier slippage and foundation distress issuesi

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • 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

Background and Education

  • 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

Disclaimer

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