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Hon. Bernard G. Skomal

Hon. Bernard G. Skomal (Ret.)

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Upcoming Events
General Biography
Practice Areas
Business Commercial
Civil Rights
Class Action & Mass Tort
Employment Law
Environmental Law
Intellectual Property
Maritime Admiralty
Personal Injury
Product Liability
Professional Liability
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

Hon. Bernard G. Skomal (Ret.) joined JAMS following a 14-year career as a United States magistrate judge for the Southern District of California, including two years as presiding magistrate judge. During this time, he served as a settlement judge and presided over 1,000 settlement conferences. Based in the San Diego Resolution Center, Judge Skomal serves as a mediator, arbitrator, special master, discovery referee and neutral evaluator.

Prior to the bench, Judge Skomal was a trial attorney for the Federal Defenders of San Diego and eventually transitioned into private practice. During his years in private practice, he specialized in both federal and state criminal defense and was certified by the California State Bar as a criminal law specialist. Additionally, he has been an instructor at two law schools on trial skills. He was appointed to the United States District Court for the Southern District of California in 2010.

Throughout his tenure on the bench, Judge Skomal presided over a wide array of cases, ranging from civil disputes to criminal cases. He’s handled motions to dismiss, motions for summary judgement, hundreds of discovery disputes and numerous bench trials. He also presided over an extensive amount of early neutral evaluations in each civil case before the case management conference was held. Known for his impartiality, no-nonsense attitude and sound judgment, he approaches each case with meticulous attention to detail and a firm dedication to upholding the principles of fairness and equity.

Judge Skomal is also fluent in Spanish.

Judge Skomal handled matters in the following areas during his time on the bench:

Representative Matters

  • Automotive Disputes
      • Numerous Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act claims, also known as California’s lemon law
      • Disputes involving Magnuson-Moss Act
      • Cases involving implied warranty of fitness and merchantability
  • Business Commercial
      • Handled numerous contract disputes involving:
        • Breach of written and oral contracts
        • Breach of insurance policy
        • Breach of employment contract involving a morning show co-host
        • Breach of master agreement for software design and web development
        • Dispute over employment contract salary provisions involving dean of a university
        • Breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing
        • Breach of franchise agreement
        • Breach of share purchase agreement
        • Miller Act breach of contract
        • Breach of fiduciary duty
        • Fraud in the inducement
        • Fraudulent concealment
        • Negligent misrepresentations
        • Promissory estoppel
        • Interference with contractual relations
  • Civil Rights
      • Title IX discrimination and harassment
      • Use of deadly or excessive force
      • Wrongful death, excessive force
      • False arrest and imprisonment
      • Banes Act
      • Police dog bite cases
      • Assault and battery
      • Unlawful entry and search
      • Fabrication of evidence
      • Monell liability
      • Removal of child from home
      • Right of family association
      • First Amendment retaliation
  • Class Action & Mass Tort
      • As a judge, settled multidistrict litigation (MDL) class action alleging violations of Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
      • Numerous wage and hour class action cases involving the failure to provide meal and rest periods, California Unfair Competition (UCL) and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
      • Various Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claims
      • Class action case involving Consumers Legal Remedy Act (CLRA)
      • Class action involving FLSA
      • Class action involving unauthorized escrow accounts
      • Class action involving breach of contract (unlawful liquidated damages clause)
  • Disability Law
      • Title II discrimination of the Americans with Disabilities Act regarding motorized scooters driven on sidewalks
      • Title III and Unruh Act claims against hotel for encountering architectural barriers
      • Discrimination claims for being denied access to dental services due to barriers in parking lot
      • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
      • Rehabilitation Act
  • Employment Law
      • Claims involving wrongful termination, whistleblower retaliation and constructive discharge
      • Claims involving Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA)
      • Various cases involving Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)
        • Discrimination based on race, disability, gender, marital status, religion, age and pregnancy
        • Hostile work environment
        • Retaliation
      • Title VII claims involving retaliation, discrimination and hostile work environment
  • Environmental Law
      • Toxic torts case regarding toxic fumes leaking into an elementary school
      • CERCLA case involving the cleanup of San Diego Bay after toxic chemicals were deposited in the bay over the course of many years
  • Insurance
      • Insurance claims involving breach of contract
      • Cases involving duty to defend and bad faith
      • Insurance bad faith
      • ERISA claims
      • Construction defect litigation involving insurance claims
      • Equitable distribution
  • Intellectual Property
      • Patent cases
      • Lanham Act and false advertising
      • Trademark and trade dress infringement
      • Copyright infringement
      • Trade secret theft
  • Maritime Admiralty
      • Carrier liability
      • Maintenance and cure
  • Personal Injury
      • Numerous premises liability cases involving stores, hotels, theme parks, prisons, gyms post office
      • Cases involving automobile and other vehicular accidents, wrongful death, product liability, medical malpractice and claims brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), state statutes or common law
      • Cases involving slip-and-fall, automobile and other accidents
      • Claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)
  • Privacy
      • Numerous cases involving the California Invasion of Privacy Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act (CCRAA), Fair Dept Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), piracy, identity theft and Rosenthal Act
  • Product Liability
      • Numerous product liability cases involving medical devices, appliances, automobiles, asbestos and tools
  • Professional Liability
      • Numerous medical and professional malpractice claims

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

Memberships & Affiliations

  • Federal Bar Association (FBA) Advisory Board, 2022–2024
  • Magistrate Judge Executive Board, 2022–2024
  • Member, San Diego County Bar Association (SDCBA)
  • Member, Association of Business Trial Lawyers (ABTL)
  • Certified Criminal Law Specialist, State Bar of California, 2009

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Service Award, Criminal Defense Bar Association, 2011
  • San Diego Best Lawyers, 2010
  • Southern California Best Lawyers, 2010
  • San Diego Super Lawyers, 2010–2011
  • San Diego County Top Attorney, The Daily Transcript, 2008–2009

Selected Speaking and Teaching Engagements

  • Speaker, Judith N. Keep Federal Civil Practice Seminar
    • Discovery of Social Media, 2014
    • Early Neutral Evaluations, 2017
    • Settlement Conferences, 2023
  • Speaker, State of the District Conference, 2021–2024
  • Speaker, Federal Defender Conference, 2022–2023
  • Speaker, Federal Bar Association Introduction to Federal Court, 2021
  • Speaker, Program Introducing Hispanic Prosecutors to Federal Court, U.S. Attorney’s Office, 2019
  • Instructor, Department of Justice Judicial Training for Judges From Mexico, 2019
  • Instructor, Spanish Trial Skills Advocacy Training (Academia de Destrezas y Litigacion), Cal Western School of Law, 2010–2016
  • Speaker, Federal Bar Association Judicial Brown Bag Luncheon, 2016
  • Speaker, “Disclosure & Discovery in the Southern District,” Federal Bar Association and Association of Business Trial Lawyers Seminar, 2011
  • Instructor, ABA Rule of Law Initiative for Judges From Mexico, 2011
  • Speaker, Judges Orientation Program, San Diego County Bar Association, 2011
  • Speaker, Magistrate Judges Panel on Criminal Pretrial Issues, 2011

Selected Publications

  • “Presiding Magistrate Judge Skomal,” San Diego Federal Bar Association (FBA), 2022
  • “Putting in the Time,” Los Angeles Daily Journal, 2012
  • “Meet Magistrate Judge Skomal,” ABTL Report, 2010
  • “Spanish, Service and Soccer: The Makings of a Magistrate Judge,” San Diego Federal Bar Association (FBA), 2010

Background and Education

  • Presiding Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, 2022–2024
  • Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, 2010–2024
  • Trial Attorney, Private Practice, 1989–2010
  • Senior Trial Attorney, Federal Defenders of San Diego, 1988–1989
  • Trial Attorney, Federal Defenders of San Diego, 1983–1989
  • J.D., cum laude, Suffolk University School of Law, 1984
    • Moot Court Board
    • Third Year, University of San Diego School of Law, 1983–1984
  • B.A., cum laude, Economics and Spanish, College of the Holy Cross, 1978
  • Selected Continuing Education
    • Intellectual Property Seminar, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, 2011, 2023
    • Employment Law Seminar, New York University School of Law, 2013, 2020


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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