Linda DeBene, Esq.

T: 925-938-5060
F: 925-938-6732
Linda DeBene, Esq. has extensive experience resolving insurance related disputes, including bad faith and layered-coverage matters. As a Special Master/Referee in numerous construction cases, Ms. DeBene has tackled complicated insurance coverage issues such as insolvent carriers, CIGA claims, additional insured endorsements, excess coverage, and uncovered claims issues. Her broad experience with business and commercial matters, employment cases, real estate disputes, and title claims, each with similar complex insurance factors, affords her valuable insight  as a mediator, arbitrator, or judge pro-tem.  Advanced mediator training specific to insurance coverage disputes and resolution has further honed and focused her skills and abilities.

Prior to becoming a full-time ADR Neutral, Ms. DeBene spent 35 years as a litigator and transactional advocate in the business-commercial, real estate, and construction industries. Her clients included developers, general contractors, subcontractors, designers, and real estate professionals, and her specific experience and expertise entailed obtaining general and E&O insurance coverage. Ms. DeBene learned to work through many complex and challenging insurance issues such as: liquidation, negotiating coverage claims, subcontractor contractual and equitable indemnity claims, additional insured endorsements coverage, first and third party claims, and the application of exclusions and reservation of rights letters from carriers.

Representative Matters:

Bad Faith:

  • Mediated insurance subrogation claims between insurance companies, subcontractors, general contractors, and negligent defendants
  • Mediated claim between a homeowner’s association and its own insurance carrier for recouping of attorneys fees spent by the HOA in defense of a separate litigation on which the carrier would not accept tender

Construction Defect:

  • As a §638 Special Master/Discovery Referee, handled commercial office building construction defect case involving complex CGL, additional insured, work product, and damage coverage issues
  • As a §638 Special Master/Discovery Referee, settled claims on $1.6 million dollar single-family home dispute involving complicated insurance coverage issues between two tiers of owners and brokers, including separate mold claims, remodel contracting pre/post-remediation, mold-related property damage personal injury claims, non-disclosure, and construction issues
  • As a §638 Special Master/Discovery Referee, settled a single-family home dispute involving multiple parties and numerous insurance issues including: liquidation of carriers with without CIGA coverage, insurance broker liability for failing to obtain correct insurance coverage for developer, additional insured coverage disputes, as well as underlying construction defects, mold-related property damage, and personal injury claims
  • As a §638 Special Master, obtained neutral supervised settlement in excess of $2.0 million in 17-party single-family home matter involving: insurance coverage and non-coverage issues of original builder, triple-tier ownership, prior owner’s remodeling contractors disputes, claims between brokers, construction defect and termite inspection/repair claims, and insurance coverage for trust successor in interest to seller on allegations of active fraud
  • Mediated to settlement stand alone Additional Insured recovery claim by national homebuilder resulting in 87-90% recovery of sums demanded.

Insurance Coverage Issues:

  • Hazardous waste
  • Multiple deductibles involving individual plaintiffs and insurance company dispute over number of occurrences
  • Construction industry coverage demands, negotiations, and denials involving varied construction industry parties
  • Time on risk and contribution disputes between carriers
  • Additional insured demands and rejections
  • Mold coverage disputes
  • Construction defect long-tail coverage disputes

Intellectual Property/Advertising Injury:

  • Appointed as a §639 discovery/settlement referee on a misappropriation of trade secrets claims matter where the defense asserted coverage under advertising injury provisions of policies

Property/Title Insurance:

  • Successfully mediated numerous title insurance claims involving property line errors, unrecorded easements, missed encumbrances, wrongful foreclosure, title company error claims
  • Successfully mediated many neighbor, first and third party property disputes, and claims with insurance coverage issues relating to subsidence and drainage problems, easement use and misuse, devaluation, and property damage
  • As a stipulated judge pro-tem for all purposes, conducted settlement conferences and adjudicated neighbor disputes relating to driveway easement and property use matters

Subrogation/Indemnity & Contribution:

  • Mediated multiple claims between insurers and third parties resulting from construction defect or negligence losses
  • Mediated claims by and between insurers to determine time on risk, allocation and contribution, and additional insured claims

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Member, Academy of Court-Appointed Masters, 2008 - present; Board of Directors and Membership Chair, 2011 - present, (
  • 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


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