Hon. Judith M. Ryan (Ret.)

T: 714-939-1300
F: 714-939-8710
Business/Commercial

Judge Ryan has been a full time mediator and arbitrator since retiring from the Orange County Superior Court in 1989. She has presided over hundreds of trials, arbitrations, and mediations involving a wide variety of businesses and industries. She has extensive experience in the resolution of complex cases, including multi-party cases, which have required the application of state and federal law.

Judge Ryan has successfully resolved a broad range of commercial disputes which have included issues of contract interpretation, unfair competition cases, disputes over buy-sell agreements of both real property and businesses (which have required consideration of appraisals as part of the damage analysis), product development cases which have involved the consideration of a broad spectrum of technical issues, construction cases which have involved issues of change orders and delay damages, and partnership/business dissolution cases including professional partnerships.

She has arbitrated and determined numerous product development cases involving a variety of industries including the development of medical devices and applications and other technological developments.

The following is a sampling of representative cases handled by Judge Ryan.

Representative Commercial Arbitrations and Mediations

  • Breach of Contract/Misc.
    • Arbitration of Breach of Land Development Agreement (including claims of Fraud and Breach of Fiduciary Duty) arising out of development of mixed use commercial/residential project.
    • Arbitration of legal malpractice claim arising out of representation of real estate investment company and officers charged by SEC with a $52 million ponzi scheme
    • Arbitration of breach of asset purchase agreement for sale of medical product company and consulting agreement; issues of fraud and entitlement to buy-back 
    • Breach of contract arbitration arising out of default of asset purchase agreement regarding the sale of a national home products business
    • Three-week arbitration involving issues of contract interpretation and entitlement of former partner to partnership distributions of ongoing partnership investments; damages in excess of $20 million at issue
    • Breach of contract and unfair competition arbitration arising out of development of pet care product
    • Breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty: insurance brokers agreement terminated by insurance company
    • Breach of engagement agreement between attorney and client involving issues of reasonableness of billing
    • Breach of fiduciary duty claim by furniture manufacturing company widow against surviving shareholder for accounting/valuation of corporation in a forced buyout
    • One-week arbitration involving liability and indemnity between major landlord and service provider for injury to persons on subject premises
  • Construction
    • Breach of contract arbitration arising out of major municipal sewer pipe installation after failure of sewer pipe
    • Arbitration of dispute arising out of Federal construction project; principal issue was claim for delay damages
    • Arbitration of dispute between NASA and oversight contractor involving issues of conformance with technical standards and delay damages in excess of $1.5M
    • Four-week arbitration involving breach of contract issues arising out of major construction project; damages in excess of $6 million at issue 
    • Hillside grading case where subcontractor sought compensation for change orders and delay damages in excess of $1.25M, in addition to coverage and bonding issues
    • State/County highway project where claims were based upon change orders; issues of delay damages and analysis of the work of the surveyors
    • Tenant improvement case where claims were based on disputed change orders; delay damages sought in excess of $2M. [Total project in excess of $8M]
  • Partnership/Corporation Dissolution
    • Has resolved many partnership disputes including disputes arising out of medical and legal partnerships and partnerships of family owned businesses. Issues have included the determination of the respective rights of the various partners and in most instances involved a partnership dissolution which required an accounting. Some of the specific issues have involved an interpretation and application of formulas for the division of the partnership assets.
    • Mediation of partnership dissolution of a national dental practice organization
    • Arbitration of dissolution of privately held corporation involving injunctions concerning violations of trade secret agreements
    • Arbitration of dissolution of partnership interest in food distribution company involving allegations of fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, accounting
    • Resolution of dispute over liability between partners concerning one city block and four commercial buildings in default to lender
  • Product Development
    • Case involved a product development agreement between a major pharmaceutical company and a small medical device firm started by physicians who had developed an advanced gynecological screening method. Issues included interpretation of terms of the development agreement and further determination of whether there had been a breach of the agreement. Specifically issues were raised as to whether adequate measures had been taken to develop the product under the agreement that involved consideration of industry standards for product development and consideration of the marketing of medical devices and products. Additional issues raised regarding the determination of the damages and calculations of lost profits.
    • Dispute involving a development agreement for technology in the cable industry which raised issues of unfair competition and consideration of numerous issues related to the calculation of potential damages.
    • Arbitration of dispute over development of a holographic imaging device for the diagnosis of medical conditions involving analysis of the various stages of the actual product development and testing as related to the terms of the contract.
    • Breach of buyout agreement brought by the founder and inventor of a method of cleaning chemical spills with damages at issue in excess of $22 million dollars
    • Dispute between manufacturing company and software development company involving issues of contract interpretation, determination of the subject matter of the contract, whether the delivered software met the requirements of the contract, and complex damages analysis. The parties reached a high-low settlement during deliberations that was not disclosed until after determination of the merits which raised post-hearing issues as to entitlement to certain fees and costs.
  • Real Property
    • Presided over numerous real property matters which have included contract interpretation issues, landlord-tenant matters, development agreements, construction defect issues and environmental issues under both state and federal law. Have mediated and arbitrated disputes regarding appraisals of land and/or leasehold interests.
    • Resolution of dispute over interpretation of various leases between a nationwide women’s retail chain and a national shopping center owner
    • Arbitration of lease renewal and determination of lease increase between major commercial landowner and national hotel chain tenant

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Recognized as a Top 30 California Neutral, Daily Journal, 2006
  • National Association of Women Business Owners "Remarkable Woman Award" for professional involvement and contribution to the community, 2006
  • Recognized as a Top 50 California Neutral, Daily Journal, 2003
  • Loyola Law School, Orange County Distinguished Alumna of the Year, 2003
  • The Robert "Sam" Barnes Award, Orange County Bar Foundation, 1998
  • Marcus Kaufman Jurisprudence Award, Anti-Defamation League, 1994
  • Franklin G. West Award, Orange County Bar Association, 1992
  • Woman of Achievement in Law Award, Orange County YWCA, 1989
  • Recipient of numerous Letters of Recognition and Appreciation from various Bar Association Sections and Community Organizations including:
    • California Peace Officers Association
    • Orange County Bar Association Business Litigation Section
    • Orange County Bar Association Corporate Counsel Section
    • Orange County Trial Lawyers
    • Women in Leadership (WIL)
    • Young President's Organization (YPO)
    • National Legal Secretaries Association

ADR Profiles

Background and Education

  • Full time Mediator and Arbitrator, 1989-present
  • Judge, Orange County Superior Court, 1982-1989
  • Judge, Orange County Municipal Court, 1981-1982
  • Attorney, Santa Ana Police Department, Santa Ana, CA, 1977-1981
  • Corporate Counsel, Hunt Wesson Foods, Inc., Fullerton, CA, 1974-1977
  • Private law practice, Torrance and Redondo Beach, CA, 1972-1974
  • Research Attorney, Los Angeles County Superior Court Appellate Department, 1971-1972
  • ADR training includes Advanced Mediation Training, Pepperdine Univ. School of Law, Inst. for Dispute Resolution (1994) and Certification for Int'l Arbitration, Int'l Center for Arbitration (1994)
  • J.D., Loyola University, 1970
  • B.A., University of Southern California, 1966

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