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Hon. Richard Kramer

Hon. Richard Kramer (Ret.)

Latest Insights
Upcoming Events
General Biography
Practice Areas
Business Commercial
Class Action & Mass Tort
Construction Defect
Employment Law
Environmental Law
Financial Markets
International & Cross-Border
Real Property
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education
Hon. Richard Kramer (Ret.) joins JAMS as a full-time neutral after nearly two decades as a well-respected judge in San Francisco Superior Court. For the thirteen years prior to joining JAMS, he presided over cases in the Court's Complex Litigation Department. Lauded as astute and energetic by his fellow judges, he has also been called the "architect of complex litigation" management by attorneys. He is highly regarded for his smart, practical approach to difficult cases as well as his pragmatic approach towards settlement.

During his prestigious judicial career, Judge Kramer presided over all stages of civil cases, particularly those designated as "complex" due to their need for close judicial supervision. He is known for his hands-on management of all phases of the case, including organizing the progress of the litigation, establishing cost-efficient discovery plans and resolving discovery disputes, as well as offering appropriate assistance with settlement. Judge Kramer has heard hundreds of cases involving a wide array of legal issues in such areas as consumer and commercial financial services, employment law, antitrust, unfair business practices, taxation, insurance coverage and allocation, construction defects, interpretation of legislation, judicial review of administrative determinations, drug and medical device mass torts, water rights, environmental claims (including under California Proposition 65), and a variety of complicated contractual and business disputes.

Prior to his time on the bench, Judge Kramer practiced commercial trial law for 24 years in practice areas that included anti-trust, restructuring of businesses in the context of bankruptcy, and general commercial litigation. He tried dozens of cases throughout California and in several states, including class actions, environmental litigation, employment cases, construction disputes, SEC Enforcement Division investigations, shareholder class actions, fraud cases, and banking matters.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Served over 18½ years on the San Francisco Superior Court
  • Presided over cases in the San Francisco Superior Court's Complex Litigation Department from 2002-2015
  • Judge Kramer has also been an Associate Judge and Presiding Judge of the Appellate Division of the Superior Court, and served as a Justice pro tem of the California Court of Appeal
  • Judge Kramer has been an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law and is a frequent continuing education lecturer in a wide variety of civil litigation topics

Representative Matters

  • Business Commercial
      • Heard indirect purchaser anti-trust cases involving a variety of consumer and commercial products, many of which were coordinated with federal direct purchaser litigation
      • Resolved a lawsuit between two international investment management firms claiming raiding of asset management resources in violation of California law
      • Heard eminent domain takings, including procedural challenges and valuation disputes
      • Resolved several lawsuits arising from investments made by institutional investors, including the California's largest governmental retirement fund, governmental agencies and large investor groups asserting improper investments which included securitized lending products, outgrowths from a huge nationwide Ponzi scheme, and real estate developments in foreign countries
      • Lease dispute between land lessor of a large downtown San Francisco shopping center against the owner of the improvements on the leased land
  • Class Action & Mass Tort
      • Coordinated mass torts proceedings consisting of thousands of statewide tort lawsuits alleging injuries from defendants' drug and medical device products. Many of these coordinated proceedings were in turn coordinated with similar federal MDL and other states' actions. Salient experience included organization of cases, direction of information exchange in lieu of expensive, duplicative discovery, standardization of inter-jurisdictional litigation management, selection, and resolution of bellwether cases, assistance in settlement discussions, and settlement administration
      • Heard class action challenges to bond ratings by rating agencies and similar businesses
      • Heard class action challenges to a major computer manufacturer's sales/use tax computation practices by a class of millions of purchasers
      • Heard class action challenges to the disclosure by credit card issuers of cardholder contact and other similar information
      • Heard class action challenges to the lead content of all valves in California's public water system
      • Heard a Coordinated Cartwright Act proceeding against major automobile manufacturers alleging agreements to deter the importation of cars from Canada to California, which was coordinated with a federal MDL action
      • Resolved litigation arising from the up-streaming in the 1980's of several billion dollars to its corporate parent by a defendant with substantial asbestos tort liability
  • Construction Defect
      • Heard construction defect actions alleging a variety of deficiencies in several large condominium projects, including actions against design professionals, general contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers
      • Resolved a design/construction defect case arising from mold infiltration throughout a university dormitory
  • Employment Law
      • Class actions asserting wage and hour, lunch and break time, work uniform, "off the clock" activities, and other asserted employment law violations
      • Writ and other review of administrative determinations of employment discrimination claims
  • Environmental Law
      • Handled Proposition 65 claims involving a wide variety of products, including consumables (e.g., fish), beauty items, and office supplies
      • Settled environmental litigation seeking remediation for hundreds of existing and former gas station sites
  • Insurance
      • Resolved many disputes between parties seeking defense costs and indemnity for underlying litigation
      • Handled asbestos matters involving over 200,000 underlying cases and dozens of insurers in a coverage chart spanning over 25 years with multiple coverage levels for each year
      • Heard a case of alleged fraudulent conveyances in the purchase of assets by an insurance company in connection with the attempted recapitalization and ultimate liquidation of a large insurer under the supervision of the Insurance Departments of several states
  • International & Cross-Border
      • Heard several disputes involving EU sources of information and "blocking" laws from countries which do not follow U.S. discovery rules.
      • Has issued judicial requests to foreign tribunals seeking cooperation in obtaining discovery outside of the United States
      • Represented an American international bank in a protracted dispute with Libya regarding the bank's performance bond guarantee of a large agricultural project in the Sarir Desert
      • Represented a Columbian purchaser of an electronic message board built and installed in Columbia by an American company
      • Represented a variety of large Japanese companies in disputes against various American federal and state governmental entities
      • Investigated the laundering of contract proceeds in England and Jersey Island for an American financial institution
      • Negotiated the appropriate transfer of funds in a potential letter of credit dispute between client American bank and a Swiss counter party using the Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits (UPC) as the governing standard
      • Successfully repossessed a champion Arabian show horse which had been taken to Canada, including getting the horse through both US and Canadian customs
      • Represented an Australian hotel owner in a dispute over the failed sale of its hotel in Cairns, Australia to French conglomerate, Sofitel
      • Mediated Canadian antitrust litigation relating to LCD technology
  • Real Property
      • Represented a high-end, bay area residential real estate brokerage firm for over 10 years, handling disputes over brokerage services and also was regularly assisted in closing sales when disputes arose between buyer and seller over the contract of sale or with title companies regarding obligations under title policies
      • Represented various divisions of an international bank for over 20 years in disputes arising from its real estate lending activities; often these cases included acquiring, operating and disposing of real estate for its own account, lien priority and other title disputes, as well as the restructure of real estate loans and disputes regarding purchase/sale agreements
      • Represented several real estate developers (both residential and commercial) in disputes regarding the purchase and sale of properties, particularly the performance under purchase/sale contracts
      • Represented owner/developer of houses and commercial properties in various real estate related disputes which arose from the conversion of an existing open air shopping center to a regional mall. The disputes were subject to arbitration, and involved various lien issues, including subcontractor lien rights
      • Represented several material suppliers to residential and commercial real estate development projects in connection with their enforcement of lien claims against works of improvement
      • Heard several cases between buyers and sellers regarding claimed breaches of purchase/sale contracts most of which raised issues of fraud in the inducement, duties to disclose, and appropriate remedies
      • Presided over a large class action case claiming abuses in the title insurance industry practices, which required substantial analysis of the nuts and bolts of how land sales work as well as the detection of liens
  • Taxation
      • Decided a case of a multi-national corporate taxpayers' challenge to credits for foreign tax payments under California law, which was ultimately upheld by the United States Supreme Court
      • Heard constitutional and interpretive challenges to various San Francisco tax ordinances, including the hotel tax and clergy exemptions

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS.

  • Vice-Chair, ADR Subcommittee, ABA Business Law Section, 2016-present
  • Proclamation by Mayor Edwin Lee that October 21, 2015 is “Judge Richard Kramer Day” in San Francisco
  • Board of Governors, ABTL Northern California Chapter, 2007–present
  • Frequent lecturer/panelist in California and nationwide in a wide range of civil litigation topics, including complex litigation management, efficient discovery plans, electronic discovery, class actions, mass torts, consumer finance, real estate, asbestos, insurance coverage, insurance bad faith, insurance coverage allocation, employment law, settlements, mortgage lending, antiSLAPP, and annual developments in civil procedure
  • Former Adjunct Professor of Law, Advanced Civil Procedure, University of California Hastings College of Law
  • Taught and moderated the Rutter Group, Civil Procedure Before Trial seminar since its inception in 1980, and has served as an author and editor of the related handbook
  • Federal/State Judicial Council, 2005-2015, including Chair of the Complicated Civil Case Subcommittee
  • Appellate Advisory Committee of the California Judicial Council, 1998-2007

ADR Profiles

Background and Education

  • Judge, San Francisco Superior Court, 1996-2015
    • Presiding Judge, Complex Litigation Department, 2002-2013
    • Continued to preside over cases in the Complex Litigation Department, 2013-2015 
  • Justice Pro-tem California Court of Appeal, January 2001-April 2001
  • Litigation Attorney, Steefel, Levitt and Weiss, 1972-1996
  • J.D., University of Southern California, School of Law, 1972 (Order of the Coif)
  • B.A., magna cum laude, University of Southern California, 1969


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

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