Submit a Case Submit Case Find a Neutral Search Neutral
Ignazio Ruvolo

Hon. Ignazio J. Ruvolo (Ret.)

  • vCard

Case Manager
Heather Muirhead
T: 925-975-5795
F: 925-938-6732
Two Embarcadero Center, Suite 1500, San Francisco, CA 94111

Hon. Ignazio J. Ruvolo (Ret.) joins JAMS after 24 years as a respected jurist. He was appointed as an associate justice to the California First District Court of Appeal, Division Two, in 1996 and became presiding justice of Division Four in 2006. Prior to that, he served on the Contra Costa Superior Court. 

Justice Ruvolo began his legal career as a trial attorney with the Torts Section of the Civil Division of the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., before transitioning to private practice with a San Francisco firm. As a trial attorney and litigator, he spent 17 years representing plaintiffs and defendants in a variety of civil matters. 

Justice Ruvolo's work in legal and judicial ethics is well-known, and he has served as a member or chaired numerous local, state and national committees regarding legal ethics and professional responsibility. He was appointed by the California Supreme Court as a member of the Commission on Judicial Performance, ultimately serving as commissioner and chairperson. In addition, Justice Ruvolo was a member of the California State Bar Commission for the Revision of the Rules of Professional Responsibility, where he played a part in drafting new ethics rules for attorneys.

Justice Ruvolo has participated extensively in legal and judicial education, teaching students, lawyers and judges such topics as legal and judicial ethics, judicial and appellate process, trial skills and professional liability.

In addition to serving as a mediator throughout his legal and judicial careers, Justice Ruvolo’s experience makes him uniquely qualified as a neutral evaluator. He has a passion for neutral analysis/evaluation work, and his particular expertise in appellate and writ approaches can help provide valuable insights to matters potentially destined for appeal.

ADR Qualifications

  • An original member of the First District Appellate Mediation Task Force, served as chair of the Appellate Mediation Committee and has personal mediation experience through that program
  • Served as a special master in construction litigation
  • As an attorney and superior court judge, served as a mediator and settlement judge for numerous cases pending in Contra Costa Superior Court, as well as an attorney mediator for the San Francisco Superior Court

Representative Matters

Business/Commercial

  • Represented parties in multiple franchise litigation cases challenging non-compete clauses in franchise agreements following termination
  • Case involving whether claims for construction defects were untimely because of contract provision that abrogated the delayed discovery rule
  • Civil action for fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and financial elder abuse by investor who lost a substantial portion of his retirement savings in a private placement security offering
  • City and County of San Francisco v Homeaway.com, Inc., A150385: City's administrative subpoena seeking identification and short-term rental information about hosts doing business on defendant’s Internet rental platform did not violate the federal Stored Communications Act
  • Fisherman's Wharf Bay Cruise Corp. v. Superior Court (2003) 114 Cal.App.4th 309: Provider of sightseeing cruises brought antitrust and unfair practices lawsuit against its competitor
  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. California Milk Producers Advisory Board. (2005) 125 Cal.App.4th 87: California Milk Producers Advisory Board’s (CMAB) “Happy Cows” advertising campaign allegedly violated California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL) as false and deceptive; the court held that the CMAB was not a “person” that could be sued under the UCL
  • Fujitsu IT Holdings, Inc. v. Franchise Tax Board. (2004) 120 Cal.App.4th 459: Multinational business filed tax refund action against Franchise Tax Board, alleging it improperly assessed taxes based on its erroneous treatment of dividends distributed by business's first-tier and second-tier subsidiaries; the court held, among other things, that taxation of dividends from foreign subsidiaries did not violate commerce clause
  • Ram v. OneWest Bank, FSB (2015) 234 Cal.App.4th 1: Borrowers under deed of trust brought action against the beneficiary, the trustee and the lender for wrongful foreclosure, quiet title, declaratory relief, cancellation of instrument and unfair business practices

Civil Rights

Justice Ruvolo has authored a number of important anti-SLAPP cases, including:

  • Dean v. Friends of Pine Meadow (Cal. Ct. App., Feb. 8, 2018, No. A149735) 2018 WL 1193512: Action brought against protesters challenging the planned residential development of a local golf course was subject to anti-SLAPP motion, as protester activities did not involve unprotected commercial speech
  • Bikkina v. Mahadevan (2015) 241 Cal.App.4th 70: Former graduate student’s claims against dissertation advisor for libel, slander, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress were not subject to anti-SLAPP motion because acts were not made “in a place open to the public or a public forum,” nor were they “matters of public interest”
  • Summit Bank v. Rogers (2012) 206 Cal.App.4th 669: The court held that statute defining offense of bank libel is facially unconstitutional and that comments made about the bank were non-actionable opinions
  • Cabral v. Martins (2009) 177 Cal.App.4th 471: The cause of action against attorneys arose from protected activity (lodging the will with the probate court and the will revision itself) for purposes of anti-SLAPP motion
  • Thomas v. Quintero (2005) 126 Cal.App.4th 635: Petitions for injunctive relief under civil harassment statute are subject to anti-SLAPP motion
  • San Ramon Valley Fire Protection Dist. v. Contra Costa County Employees’ Retirement Ass’n. (2004) 125 Cal.App.4th 343: Board's decision adopting certain employers’ contribution amounts for retirement benefits was not an act in furtherance of its right to petition or free speech
  • City of Cotati v. Cashman (2001) 90 Cal.App.4th 796, affirmed 29 Cal.4th 69: City’s action for declaratory relief against mobile park owners seeking a determination of validity of rent stabilization ordinance was not brought primarily to chill owners’ valid exercise of petition rights

Class Actions

  • Class action, including class certification issue, against home alarm company alleging violation of the Home Solicitation Act, Unruh Act Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) and the Unfair Competition Law (UCL)
  • Wage and hour, retaliation, wrongful termination and unfair competition class action brought by former hourly employees against their employer challenging summary adjudication against class representative on his individual wrongful termination cause of action and in dismissing the representative cause of action under the unfair competition law
  • Class action brought by high school seniors in public schools who were denied graduation because of their failure to pass the California Exit Exam
  • Residents brought putative class action against operators of skilled nursing facilities alleging a violation of residents' right to reside in an adequately staffed facility, the state UCL and the CLRA
  • Users of money lending marketplace website brought class action against the website and its corporate officers based on alleged violations of state and federal securities laws
  • Unfair competition class action brought on behalf of residents who purchased retail goods or services using a credit or debit card affiliated with two major credit card companies
  • Putative nuisance class action bought by neighbors against a fraternity at a large California public university
  • Class action comprising San Francisco homeowners and apartment renters brought against vacation rental website for alleged violations of ordinances regarding short-term rental
  • Health care worker class action brought to enforce wage and hour claims

Construction

  • Litigation against designers and general contractor arising out of design and construction of large public utility district’s headquarters
  • Professional liability action against design engineers of a large metropolitan wastewater treatment plant
  • Property damages claims arising out of alleged construction defects leading to water intrusion in multi-unit residential buildings
  • Challenge brought against California Department of Industrial Relations’ decision that certain work done under contract in the remediation of a toxic waste site pursuant to a consent decree obtained by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not subject to California’s Prevailing Wage Law because it is not a “public works” project as defined by that law
  • Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. v. San Francisco Airports Com. (1997) 59 Cal.App.4th 25, review granted and affirmed, 21 Cal.4th 352: Contractors' associations petitioned for writ of mandate challenging legality of project stability agreement (PSA) entered into between airports commission and union trade council; the court held that master plan for airport design and construction was municipal affair subject to city's administrative code rather than state law among other issues, including application of the federal preemption doctrine, violation of local or state competitive bidding laws and standing
  • N.V. Heathorn, Inc. v. County of San Mateo (2005) 126 Cal.App.4th 1526: Subcontractor sued county after general contractor on project, who was not bonded, went bankrupt and did not pay subcontractor; subcontractor stated claim under Tort Claims Act
  • Transdyn/Cresci v. City and County of San Francisco (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 746: Bidder who had been awarded contract to monitor quality and flow of city's water supply petitioned for writ of mandate compelling general manager of city public utilities commission (PUC) to issue contract and compelling city controller to certify that city had sufficient funds to make payments

Employment

  • Wage and hour disputes involving compensation for overtime, meal periods and rest breaks
  • Appeals on actions against employers for discrimination in violation of FEHA, unlawful business practices in violation of unfair competition law, breach of contract, bad faith, intentional infliction of emotional distress and employment discharge in violation of public policy where the primary issue whether an arbitration clause the employment contract was procedurally and substantively unconscionable and therefore unenforceable
  • Claim by public school teacher alleging disability discrimination, failure to provide accommodation, failure to engage in an interactive process related to disability and termination
  • Harassment, discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination matters involving a variety of employees, including hospital director, court commissioner, fire department employee and correctional officer
  • Petition for administrative review by a major city challenging a decision of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board, which awarded temporary and permanent psychiatric disability payments to claimant who had been demoted during a citywide reduction in force
  • Service Employees International Union, Local 1021, AFL-CIO v. County of Sonoma (2014) 227 Cal.App.4th 1168: Housing inspectors' union brought action for writ of mandate and injunction against contracting out housing inspection work that would affect the hours of bargaining unit employees; the court held that “agency or entity” included private entities and that contracting out housing inspection work was not the result of an improper delegation of authority.
  • Wilson v. Murillo (2008) 163 Cal.App.4th 1124: Disabled person brought action against restaurant alleging he was refused service and subjected to ridicule and harassment in retaliation for his efforts to ensure that the restaurant was accessible; there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether restaurant's alleged retaliatory conduct was sufficiently adverse to state a prima facie case of non-employment retaliation

Environmental

  • Defend Our Waterfront v. California State Lands Commission (2015) 240 Cal.App.4th 570, 575: Dispute arising out of a plan to develop land near the San Francisco Ferry Building; the court held that the lack of notice of public hearing exempted interest group from CEQA's exhaustion of administrative remedies requirement and the proposed land exchange was not exempt from CEQA review as a “settlement of title and boundary problems”
  • Citizens for a Sustainable Treasure Island v. City and County of San Francisco (2014) 227 Cal.App.4th 1036: A CEQA challenge to the city's approval of a mixed-use community development on Treasure Island, which included issues of whether the EIR was sufficiently accurate, stable and finite; it contained adequate discussion about the presence and remediation of hazardous substances and whether the EIR adequately analyzed and mitigated impacts to historic resources
  • Robinson v. City and County of San Francisco (2012) 208 Cal.App.4th 950, as modified (July 26, 2012), as modified on denial of reh'g (Aug. 21, 2012): Residents filed a petition for writ of mandate and injunctive relief to overturn decision to permit telecommunications companies to place wireless equipment on existing utility poles; the court held that project was categorically exempt from CEQA requirements, reviewing issues including the cumulative impact exception, whether there were grounds to invalidate the permit and whether residents had a due process right to notice and a hearing
  • Martin v. City and County of San Francisco (2005) 135 Cal.App.4th 392: Owner of single-family residence filed complaint for declaratory relief against city and its planning department, seeking determination that CEQA review was not required precondition of his obtaining permit for modification of his home, a city historical landmark
  • Our Children's Earth Foundation v. California Air Resources Board (2015) 234 Cal.App.4th 870, review denied (June 10, 2015): Environmental organization brought action against Air Resources Board for declaratory, injunctive and writ relief challenging Board's compliance with Global Warming Solutions Act; nonprofit organizations and businesses involved in greenhouse gas (GHG) cap-and-trade system intervened as respondents
  • Lafayette v. City of Lafayette (Cal. Ct. App. 2018) 229 Cal.Rptr.3d 238: City residents petitioned for peremptory writ of mandate to require city to submit referendum to public vote; the court held that the city had a mandatory duty to submit referendum to public vote
  • Justice Ruvolo has written decisions regarding the certification of Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) for projects such as the Chevron Oil Refinery upgrade, the expansion of Oakland International Airport, the Del Norte County Regional Airport Runway Safety Area Project and mineral extraction leases on land owned by the California State Lands Commission

Insurance

  • Action against auto insurer regarding the effectiveness of policy cancellation for non-payment; issues included notice being given to the lienholder/loss payee as well as disclosure requirements for retail installment contracts
  • Dispute whether insurance company authorized to transact mortgage guaranty insurance was prohibited from selling lien protection policies because such policies constituted title insurance, which insurance company was statutorily prohibited from selling under the monoline restrictions
  • Bad faith action determining whether insurer had a duty to defend and indemnify insured in a third-party action, characterized as “a palimony suit that arose from a long-term romantic relationship”
  • Claim whether insurer was required to pay defense costs incurred by insured in successfully defending a third-party lawsuit, which arguably fell within the advertising injury liability provisions of the policy, and where insurer allegedly failed to undertake a reasonable investigation of the insured’s tender of defense before denying it
  • Subrogation action by insurer of building owner against a construction company that caused injury to passerby; insurance company paid the proceeds of the liability policy to the passerby, then filed the action seeking subrogation against the construction company; the construction company was an additional insured under an endorsement to the building owner's policy
  • John Hancock Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Greer (1998) 60 Cal.App.4th 877: Disability insurer sought rescission of policy because of alleged material misrepresentations in application for insurance; the court held that the incontestability clause in disability policy, which provided for tolling of two-year incontestability period while insured was disabled, applied only to disability that fell within policy coverage
  • Ohio Cas. Ins. Co. v. Garamendi (2006) 137 Cal.App.4th 64: Insurers petitioned for writ of administrative mandamus, challenging an order of the California Insurance Commissioner requiring them to pay assessments imposed by California's FAIR Plan Association (Fair Access to Insurance Requirements) after insurers had withdrawn from the California insurance market

Personal Injury/Torts

  • Litigation against the federal Mining Enforcement Administration arising out of incident in Idaho mine and Kentucky underground mine disaster
  • Wrongful death action following death of inmate occurring during prison riot
  • Numerous personal injury actions brought against national trucking transportation company for driver negligence
  • Defended a major railroad line and national passenger railroad service in numerous tort actions brought by employees and passengers for personal injuries and wrongful death
  • Bankhead v. ArvinMeritor, Inc. (2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 68: Action by automotive maintenance worker against defendants, including brake shoe manufacturer, for injuries arising out of asbestos exposure; the court held that net worth is not the only measure of wealth that may be used to determine excessiveness of punitive damages
  • Beninati v. Black Rock City, LLC (2009) 175 Cal.App.4th 650: Attendee at Burning Man Festival who fell into a bonfire and burned his hands brought action against promoter for negligence; the court held that attendee was owed no duty of care under doctrine of primary assumption of risk
  • Bailey v. Safeway, Inc. (2011) 199 Cal.App.4th 206: After settling with champagne bottle manufacturer and prevailing against retailer on a theory of strict liability design defect, injured worker brought new action against retailer as assignee of manufacturer's equitable indemnity rights
  • Suarez v. Pacific Northstar Mechanical, Inc. (2009) 180 Cal.App.4th 430: The court held that subcontractor did not have a common law or contractual duty to general contractor's employees, but that statutes and regulations imposed a duty to inform general contractor's employees of any nonobvious hazard about which subcontractor knew
  • Juarez v. Boy Scouts of America, Inc. (2000) 81 Cal.App.4th 377: Former Boy Scout sued Boy Scouts and church where meetings were held, seeking damages for alleged sexual molestation; the court held that Boy Scouts was not liable on theories of negligence in the selection, supervision or retention of the scoutmaster, but that it had a duty of care to take reasonable measures to protect against the risk of sexual abuse by adult volunteers

Probate, Estates and Trusts

  • In re Conservatorship of Whitley (2007) 155 Cal.App.4th 1447: Conservator objected to Regional Center's placement decision for developmentally disabled conservatee; regional center directed conservator to utilize superior court hearing procedure; the court held that the superior court was not authorized to conduct hearing on conservator's objection in derogation of administrative fair hearing procedure mandated by Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act
  • Desbiens v. Delgman (Cal. Ct. App., Aug. 10, 2016, No. A143931) 2016 WL 421171: Appeal from the probate court's orders removing appellant as the trustee for the estate of his deceased mother and appointing a professional trustee to perform an accounting
  • Estate of Lieurance (Cal. Ct. App., Oct. 5, 2016, No. A145526) 2016 WL 5800007: Appeal from a probate dispute about disposition of residential property; issue is whether the use in family trust of the term “trustee” was intended to be used in the singular form, thus making enforceable each of the trustee’s actions concerning the trust disposition
  • Gocke v. Perkins (Cal. Ct. App., Oct. 14, 2009, No. A123267) 2009 WL 3290731: A dispute among three siblings regarding a trust created by their parents; all three were trust beneficiaries, while one was named as the sole trustee, and a petition was filed to remove the trustee
  • Rallhausen v. Moustirats (Cal. Ct. App., Jan. 18, 2006, No. A109778) 2006 WL 122455: This action was appealing adverse judgment entered after evidentiary hearing regarding appellant's petition to invalidate amendments to inter vivos trust executed by settlor; the trial court concluded there was clear and convincing evidence that the amendments were not the result of undue influence
  • Kwok v. Kwong (Cal. Ct. App., July 7, 2016, No. A143795) 2016 WL 3748810: In the original action, mother and brother sought an accounting of the estate, relying on financial records in the possession of surviving spouse and company; after the trial court issued a final judgment, mother filed second complaint alleging four causes of action against two surviving siblings based on their alleged theft of financial records; after multiple appeals, the court concluded that the second complaint alleged spoliation of evidence and there was no independent legal cause of action available for that conduct

Family Law

  • In re Marriage of Pearlstein (2006) 137 Cal.App.4th 1361: County agency filed motion for increase of divorced father's child support obligation, and father sought refund of child support overpayment resulting from tax refund intercept; issues involved whether or not unrealized value of stock and cash from sale of business could not be included in calculation of gross income
  • In re Marriage of Dellaria (2009) 172 Cal.App.4th 196: The appellate court held that the trial court could not enforce parties' oral agreement to unequally divide their community property
  • Willmer v. Willmer (2006) 144 Cal.App.4th 951: County child support services department filed notice of registration of German judgment obliging divorced father to pay child and spousal support; the court held that Germany was a “foreign reciprocating country,” as required for enforcement of judgment under Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)
  • McBride v. Boughton (2004) 123 Cal.App.4th 379: Man paid child support, in reliance on mother's representation that he was the child's father, and brought action against mother and her husband on an unjust enrichment theory for return of funds after discovering that child was not his biological offspring; as a matter of first impression, plaintiff had no claim against mother and her husband for unjust enrichment

Intellectual Property

  • Morlife, Inc. v. Perry (1997) 56 Cal.App.4th 1514: Employer brought action against former employees claiming they had misappropriated confidential customer information in violation of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA); the court determined that the customer list was a “trade secret” and that use of the list constituted misappropriation; injunctive relief was appropriate, and monetary award was reasonable approximation of unjust enrichment realized by defendants
  • Medivation, Inc. v. Aragon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Cal. Ct. App., Sept. 15, 2016, No. A138405) 2016 WL 4921379, at *1, review denied (Dec. 14, 2016): Four consolidated appeals arising out of two summary judgment orders, over licensing rights to certain molecular compounds developed for the potential treatment of prostate cancer
  • United States Golf Association v. Arroyo Software Corp. (Cal. Super., Oct. 25, 1996, No. C93-05613) 1996 WL 710834: Matter involved alleged misappropriation of formulae developed and published, which allow golf associations and clubs to determine golf scoring handicaps assigned to each individual golfing member; also alleged infringement of its service and trademarks under the Lanham Act and engaged in common law unfair competition

Real Estate/Real Property

  • Save Lafayette v. City of Lafayette, A149342: Citizen group was entitled to election on referendum to reverse city’s enacted zoning change allowing residential development of open space
  • Danger Panda, LLC v. Launiu (2017) 10 Cal.App.5th 502: Residential landlords withdrew unit from rental use pursuant to the Ellis Act and brought unlawful detainer action against residents after they refused to vacate; residents filed motion to quash, based on landlord's failure to tender relocation payment to minor
  • Ram's Gate Winery, LLC v. Roche (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 1071: Purchaser of real property brought action against vendor for breach of contract; matter involved issues surrounding escrow and the vendor’s duty to disclose
  • McBride, as Trustee, v. Smith, et al. (Cal. Ct. App., Jan. 4, 2018, No. A147931): Matter involving a recorded easement
  • Richardson v. Franc (2015) 233 Cal.App.4th 744: Licensees brought lawsuit against licensors, seeking, among other things, to establish their right to an irrevocable license, which would grant them an uninterrupted right to continue to maintain the landscaping and other improvements within easement area

Selected Memberships and Professional Activities

  • Chair, First District Mediation Task Force and Committee, 1998–2018
  • Commissioner, California Commission on Judicial Performance, 2013–2018
  • Adjunct Professor in Legal Ethics, Golden Gate University School of Law, 2007–2009
  • Commission for the Revision of the Rules of Professional Responsibility, California State Bar, 2001–2010
  • Member, Judicial Council of California Advisory Committees:
    • Chair, ADR Subcommittee, 2006–2007
    • Civil and Small Claims Advisory Committee, 2005–2007
    • Task Force on Jury Instructions, 1999–2004
  • Adjunct Professor, Appellate Process, Hastings College of the Law, 1999–2007
  • Adjunct Professor, Legal Ethics, John F. Kennedy School of Law, 1998–2001
  • Faculty Member, Hastings Center for Trial and Appellate Advocacy, 1988–1994
  • Member, California Judges Association, 1995–2017
    • Judicial Ethics Committee, 1995–2001; 2009–2011
    • Discipline Committee, 2002–2003
    • Judicial Elections Committee, 1994–1995
  • Member, California Judges Association, 1994–1998
    • Judicial Ethics Committee, 1994–1997
    • Judicial Elections Committee, 1994–1995
  • State Bar of California, Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct, 1984–1989
  • President and Founder, Contra Costa Bar Association, Section on Professional Responsibility and Practice, 1990–1994
  • Member, San Francisco Bar Association, 1979–1994
    • Chair, Ethics Committee, 1983–1984
    • Chair, Elections Committee, 1984

Selected Awards

  • Justice of the Year, Italian American Bar Association, 2005
  • Appellate Justice of the Year, San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, 2002
  • Trial Judge of the Year, Alameda Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association, 1996
  • Formal Commendation from Director of the U.S. Marshal Service, 1977
  • Justice, First District, Division Four, California Courts of Appeal, 1996–2018
    • Presiding Judge, 2006–2018
  • Judge, Contra Costa County Superior Court, 1994–1996
  • Attorney, Bronson, Bronson & McKinnon, 1977–1994
    • Managing Partner, Walnut Creek Office, 1990–1994
  • Trial Attorney, Civil Division, Torts Section, U.S. Department of Justice, 1972–1977
  • LL.M., University of Virginia
  • J.D., Valedictorian and Editor-in-Chief of the San Diego Law Review, University of San Diego School of Law, 1972
  • A.B., Rutgers College, 1969

News

Events

Practice Areas

  • Appellate
  • Business/Commercial
  • Class Action & Mass Tort
  • Construction
  • Employment
  • Insurance
  • Professional Liability
Available nationwide

Disclaimer

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

Ruvolo_Ignazio_GeneralBiography_1302