Linda DeBene, Esq.

T: 925-938-5060
F: 925-938-6732
Special Master/Discovery Referee
Linda DeBene, Esq. has been appointed in numerous Superior Court cases as judge pro-tem for all purposes or a referee, and has handled the Contra Costa County Discovery Referee Department calendar on assignment. As a developer/general contractor advocate in litigation and special master proceedings, Ms. DeBene represented developers, construction parties, and opposed public entities in multi-party suits in residential, commercial, multi-dwelling, and large scale development projects. Her extensive personal knowledge of the construction industry combined with her extensive case management and organizational skills, make her particularly adept in complex case resolutions.  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

Class Action:

  • Adjudicator of claims, the Native American Farmers Cases (Keepseagle v. U.S. Department of Agriculture), civil rights actions based on alleged historical discrimination


  • 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
  • As a §638 Special Master/Discovery Referee, settled a commercial building construction defect case with related complex insurance coverage issues
  • As a §638 Special Master/Settlement and Discovery Referee, settled construction defect claims on a single-family home dispute involving  complex insurance issues in three separate consolidated matters
  • As a §638 Special Master/Discovery Referee, settled a $1.6 million claim on a single-family home case involving multiple parties, two separate mold remediation claims (pre/post-remediation remodel contracting), mold-related property damage and personal injury claims, non-disclosure and construction defect claims, and varied insurance coverage issues
  • As a §638 Special Master/Discovery Referee, settled a single-family home case involving multi-party insurance issues (including carrier liquidation), insurance broker liability for failing to obtain correct or adequate insurance coverage, as well as underlying construction defects, mold-related property damage, and personal injury claims
  • As a §638 Special Master/Discovery Referee for all purposes, settled construction defect case regarding commercial truck fueling and washing facility
  • As a §638 Special Master, obtained settlement in excess of $2.0 million on a 17-party single-family home case involving builder, 3 tiers of owners, remodel contractors of prior owners, brokers, construction defect and termite inspection/repair claims, active fraud, and numerous insurance issues
  • Appointed §638 Referee for all purposes on fraud claims against national homebuilder; case settled prior to trial
  • Appointed §638 Referee for all purposes on bank collection case against multi-million dollar guarantor of construction loan

Intellectual Property:

  • Appointed §639 Discovery Referee in a Contra Costa County trade secrets case involving misappropriation of computer software programs, patent-pending processes and formulas, and customer lists in mortgage brokerage dispute
  • Appointed §639 Discovery Referee to handle trade secrets case involving misappropriated program materials for engineering for developers of utility service installation data
  • Appointed §639 Discovery and Settlement Referee and settled trade secrets case involving theft of customer list by former employees of an acoustic and vibrations engineering company
  • Appointed §639 Discovery Referee on trade secrets case involving misappropriated program materials and customers of mortgage broker

Real Property:

  • As a Superior Court Judge pro-tem for all purposes, tried to verdict a neighbor roadway, easement, and boundary dispute
  • As Superior Court judge pro-tem tried to judgment (affirmed on appeal) landlord claim for waste and tenant affirmative defense claims for breach of option to purchase

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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