Ellen James

Hon. Ellen Sickles James (Ret.)

JAMS Mediator, Arbitrator and Referee/Special Master

Case Manager
Morgan Borg
T: 415-774-2657
F: 415-928-5287
2 Embarcadero Center, Suite 1500, San Francisco, CA 94111


Judge James has served as an arbitrator and mediator in numerous catastrophic personal injury disputes nationwide including several high profile class actions. Well respected for her sensitivity and tenacity in resolving emotionally charged cases, she has settled thousands of cases throughout the United States.

Her extensive personal injury expertise encompasses a wide range of legal issues including slander/libel, negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud, trespass, and personal injury. Her experience with personal injury extends from common carrier accidents, dangerous condition of public property, industrial accidents, premises liability, product liability, and medical malpractice to wrongful death.

Representative Matters

  • Successfully mediated a case involving unlawful home invasion by the Sheriff's department and a local police department where plaintiffs were held at gunpoint due to misinformation from a juvenile who called the authorities based on a fake murder staged by the juvenile’s peers
  • Successfully mediated highly emotional and sensitive case involving allegations against parents of negligent supervision and failure to warn relating to their pre-teen aged child who abused and injured two very young neighbor children
  • Mediated and resolved a case involving an accident wherein a patient in a convalescent home who was improperly secured in a wheelchair during transport sustained injuries
  • Mediated and resolved a law suit involving family members ailing due to exposure to mold in family dwelling
  • Mediated and settled a case involving an iron worker who was injured on the job and whose injuries resulted in liability issues between the contractor and other parties
  • Mediated and settled a dispute in which a utility truck driver was incapacitated by a medical condition and crashed, killing two people resulting in wrongful death claims
  • Mediated and settled a significant number of pedestrian injury disputes involving government entities
  • Mediated and settled wrongful death class action suit that were initiated by surviving family members of a commercial airline crash
  • Settled numerous workplace injury cases concerning claims of cognitive damage and/or permanent disfigurement
  • Successfully mediated claims of respiratory injury due to the release of toxic fumes
  • Successfully resolved a case between a patient and a university medical center where the patient claimed to have contracted an infectious disease due to an injection that he received at the facility
  • Successfully resolved a wrongful death claim that asserted that the decedent should have been airlifted to an appropriate trauma center; liability issues between a hospital, an ambulance company, and the city were resolved
  • Successfully resolved numerous catastrophic personal injury matters related to a structural collapse at a water amusement park
  • Successfully resolved personal injury and property damage cases caused by a tanker fire inside the Caldecott Tunnel
  • Successfully settled a personal injury dispute initiated by a policeman who was allegedly molested by an x-ray technician
  • Successfully settled a premises liability suit involving a woman who tripped over construction debris at an apartment house that she was visiting
  • Mediated several cases resulting from a major pipeline explosion including emotional stress damages, bodily injury, property damage, and related coverage disputes
  • Mediated to resolution highly sensitive case involving claims against a university for allegations of agency resulting from sexual assault of multiple students by university physician
Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS.

  • Recognized as a "Top Neutral," Daily Journal Top California Neutrals List, 2013
  • Member, Gender Task Force, JAMS, 2008-present
  • Distinguished Mediator of the Year Award, San Francisco Trial Lawyers' Association, 2008
  • Member, Committee on Mediator Ethical Guidance, American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section, 2006-present
  • Adjunct Professor at Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California 2002 and 2003
  • Lecturer for The American Bar Association, CEB, The Rutter Group, and numerous local Bar Associations and community groups
  • Above and Beyond Award, Alameda County Trial Lawyers Association, 1998
  • Served on the Judicial Council Complex Litigation Task Force, 1997-1999 and the Judicial Council Task Force on the Quality of Justice, 1997-1999
  • Chairperson, Contra Costa Superior Court Trials Committee and Civil Bench Bar Committee, 1991-1997
  • Organized Contra Costa Judicial Council Trials Management Program, 1991
  • Trial Judge of the Year, Alameda-Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association, 1987
  • Member, Judicial Council Blue Ribbon Panel of Experts on Arbitrator Ethics
ADR Profiles
  • Presiding Judge, Civil Division, Contra Costa County Superior Court, 1991-1997
  • Superior Court Judge Liaison to First District Court of Appeal, 1990-1997
  • Presiding Judge, Superior Court Appellate Division, 1986
  • Associate Justice, (pro tem), First District Court of Appeal, 1985
  • Judge, Mt. Diablo Judicial District Municipal Court, 1976-1982; (elected Presiding Judge, 1978)
  • J.D., University of California, Berkeley School of Law (formerly Boalt Hall School of Law), 1969
  • B.A., Sarah Lawrence College, 1965

Counsel Comments

    • "The mediator [Judge James] was terrific...Settling at this stage made sense. We couldn't possibly have settled (we tried) on our own"

      -Partner at Seattle Law Firm 
    • “Judge James’ reputation as a miracle worker is WELL deserved and hard-earned… She is just outstanding, and incredibly insightful.” 

      - Well recognized litigator
    • “[Judge James’] unique blend of talent, experience, people skills, and perseverance was masterful [and] perhaps more impressive than anything I have experienced was [her] continued involvement with the process long after a ten-hour session of mediation.” 

      - Prominent founding partner of a nationally recognized law firm




This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

James_Ellen_Personal Injury_Torts_682