Richard McDermott

Judge Richard F. McDermott (Ret.)

JAMS Mediator, Arbitrator and Referee/Special Master

Case Manager
Michelle Nemeth
T: 206-292-0441
F: 206-292-9082
1420 Fifth Ave., Suite 1650, Seattle, WA 98101


Judge Richard F. McDermott (Ret.) joins JAMS after a distinguished career on the King County Superior Court Bench. In almost 18 years at the Court, Judge McDermott tried hundreds of cases in many diverse areas including personal injury, auto accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, construction defects, product liability, family law, estate disputes and property claims against governmental entities.

Judge McDermott began his career as a Deputy Prosecuting attorney in King County and then as a Public Defender. This unique early experience gave him the ability to objectively and fairly evaluate both sides of a dispute which he was able to put to good use during his Judicial career and which he believes will give him the skill to assist both sides of a dispute in mediation. 

After his initial public service career, Judge McDermott worked in private practice for 22 years, handling a wide variety of litigation matters, eventually leading to his specializing in personal injury, ranging from automobile accidents to slip and falls to product liability claims.

Judge McDermott approaches cases with respect and empathy for all the parties and their attorneys. He brings to his ADR career, not only experience and an even handed demeanor that encourages resolution of disputes, but a passion to help others come to a resolution and bring closure.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Conducted settlement conferences throughout career as a judge. 
  • Seventeen years on the King County Superior Court Bench, three years as Presiding Judge
  • Has authored two chapters of the State Auto Accident Desk Book and  lectured extensively on a variety of areas of law across the state and at The National Judicial College
  • Was an Adjunct Professor Law at Seattle University from 1999-2016  

Representative Matters

Personal Injury/Tort

  • Arbitrated crew member injury on cruise ship
  • Arbitrated auto v. pedestrian accident with multiple injuries including head injury
  • Mediated matter involving fall on a treadmill
  • Settled at mediation claim for wrongful death occurring on a cruise ship
  • Mediated premises liability matters for slip and fall on a sidewalk, in a grocery store, at a church, at a fast food restaurant, a go-cart track
  • Mediated bicycle accidents one with brain injury that occurred when plaintiff was a minor
  • Mediated various auto accident cases for damages, wage loss
  • Settled at mediation alleged over service of patron at a restaurant who caused serious auto accident
  • Mediated dog bite cases
  • Mediated FTCA claim against U.S government
  • In private practice specialized in personal injury cases including auto, slip and fall, product liability and malpractice
  • Handled serious personal injury cases, including several severe brain injuries, experience with extensive medical records
  • Serious head injury as caused by result of rotten deck railing in an apartment building, five week trial, $3.4M verdict

Professional Liability

  • Mediated professional liability matters against lawyers, therapists, surgeon, assisted living facility
  • As a practitioner handled medical negligence matters involving doctors, nurses, surgeons, health care providers
  • Other professional negligence matters involving accountants, insurance and real estate brokers, and attorneys

Real Property

  • Mediated matters involving easements, boundary disputes, tenants in common, quiet title, condemnation, judicial foreclosure of residential property, partition matter
  • Arbitrated real estate joint venture dispute
  • Kingen v. City of SeaTac, 2016 – Misrepresentation, inverse condemnation and interference with business expectancy, $13M settlement, after a $18M judgement
  • Matters involving purchase and sale, lease negotiations, financing, land use, boundary disputes

Family Law

  • Arbitrated matters involving temporary orders, financial issues, businesses, post-secondary educational expenses, relocation, parenting and child support
  • Mediated post decree parental decision making 
  • Mediated matter involving military retirement
  • Assigned to the Family Court of King County, handling numerous dissolutions involving child custody, visitation, property division, child support and maintenance
  • Matters involving asset characterization, valuation
  • Matters involving family businesses and extensive real estate holdings


  • Experience with Construction Defect cases, and complexity of change orders
  • Matters involving both government and private projects including delays, breach of contract, breach of warranty
  • Mediated matter regarding remodeling of residence
  • Arbitration involving construction of a duplex and day care


  • Handled probate case involving claims to Oil Rights in North Dakota
  • Handled will contests, disputes between current and former spouses, children from different marriages
  • Breach of fiduciary duty, undue influence


  • Handled matters involving breach of contract, partnership disputes, purchase and sale of businesses, business dissolutions, consumer protection, fair credit reporting, warranties, and loans
  • Presided over contract interpretation cases, including contractor/developer disputes and disputes between title insurance company and property owner
  • Arbitrated matter surrounding interpretation and application of a law firm membership agreement and accounting of the firm’s finances.
  • Mediated matters regarding fair credit reporting, collections, and breaches of fiduciary duties
  • Arbitrated breach of contract regarding construction of duplex and daycare.
  • Mediated breach of hotel licensing agreement
  • Handled dispute regarding purchase of telecommunications company
  • Mediated and arbitrated fee disputes and collection of attorneys fees


  • Settlements of government racial discrimination cases
  • Matters involving wrongful termination, age and sex discrimination, sexual harassment, employment suspensions
  • Arbitrated case regarding the Fair Labor Standards Act for unpaid wages and overtime hours
  • Hearing Officer for teacher discharge, non-renewal, suspension and disciplinary matter appeals

Discovery/Special Master

  • Appointed Discovery Master for in camera review of documents and discovery motions 
  • Special master for family law matter to preside over all discovery disputes

Insurance Issues

  • Mediated matter involving appraisal of vehicle
    Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS.

    • Judge of the Year, Washington Chapter, American Board of Trial Advocates, 2013
    • Judge of the Year, Washington State Association for Justice, 2011
    • Co-Judge of the Year, Washington State Bar Association, 2010
    • Chair, Washington State Board of Court Education, 2010-2012
    • President, Washington State Superior Court Judges Association, 2008
    • Chair, Superior Court Judges’ Education Committee, 2006-2008
    • Co-Chair, Superior Court Judges’ Conference, 2005
    • Outstanding Faculty Award, Seattle University School of Law, 2004
    • Chair, Spring Superior Court Judges’ Conference, 2001
    •  “Super Lawyers” Recognition, Washington Law & Politics 1999
    • Adjunct Professor, Seattle University School of Law, 1999-2016
    • Member, Washington State Minorities and Justice Commission, 1993-2011
    • Vice President, Washington State Trial Lawyers’ Association, 1993-1994
    • Board of Governors, Washington State Trial Lawyers’ Association, 1982-1986, 1990-1994
    • Executive Intern and Speech Writer, King County Executive Office, 1971
    • Presidential Intern, Pentagon, Washington D.C., 1970
    • Judge, King County Superior Court, 2000-2017
      • Presiding Judge, King County Superior Court, 2011-2013
    • Special District Counsel, Washington State Bar Association, 1993-2000
    • Private Practice, Bellevue, WA, 1978-2000
    • Public Defender, Eastside Defender Agency, 1976-1978
    • Deputy Prosecutor,  King County Prosecuting Attorneys’ Office, 1973-1976
    • J.D., University of Washington School of Law, 1973
    • B.A., Magna Cum Laude, Seattle University, 1970
      • Student Body President, 1969-1970



    Practice Areas

    • Business & Commercial
    • Construction
    • Education Law
    • Employment Law
    • Family Law
    • Governmental/Public Agency
    • Insurance
    • Personal Injury/Torts
    • Professional Liability
    • Real Estate & Real Property
    Available nationwide


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