W. Scott Snowden

Hon. W. Scott Snowden (Ret.)

JAMS Mediator, Arbitrator and Referee/Special Master

Case Manager
Karen Clerici
T: 916-830-7102
F: 916-565-7780
Two Embarcadero Center, Suite 1500, San Francisco, CA 94111


Hon. W. Scott Snowden (Ret.) has been a trailblazing leader for over 25 years in case management, modern court administration, and early resolution. Under his guidance for over 15 years, the Napa Superior Court has resolved the majority of civil actions within 12 months of filing. A pioneer of court-based mediation, he brings decades of skills as an extraordinarily effective settlement specialist.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Exceptionally creative, sensitive, and skilled at resolving complex litigation involving subject matters ranging from professional negligence and tort cases to commercial, insurance, and real estate matters
  • Initiated and managed the immensely popular and effective Napa Superior Court Mediation program
  • Settled and tried hundreds of widely varied civil cases as a judge and Presiding Judge of the Napa Superior Court
  • Unparalleled professional and personal experience in the grape and wine industry

Representative Matters

  • Business/Commercial:
    • Mediated dispute between managing member and high-tech venture capital firm over terms and conditions of disengagement
    • Mediated case regarding payment to withdrawing shareholder of health insurance brokerage; accounting issues relating to the legality of distributions for purchase/redemption of share in corporation
    • Multimillion-dollar settlement of case between resort owner and management company after breakdown of operating relationship; parties were in arbitration and had received interim award; conducted multi-session mediation to attempt resolution of all remaining issues and satisfaction of award
    • Mediation of dispute between seller of winery and buyer; issues related to duty to pay for post-sale custom crush services provided by buyer to seller; further issues related to alleged failure of wastewater disposal system and compliance with covenants in buy-sell agreement
    • Mediation of dispute between County and waste management franchisee over monies allegedly due following conclusion of 15-year solid waste collection contract; complex accounting issues relating to allocation of expenses by garbage collection contractor among multiple jurisdictions
    • Mediation of lawsuit alleging violation of Federal Court injunction against trademark infringement by one winery/grapegrower upon the registered trademark of an ultra-premium winery
  • Catastrophic Personal Injury:
    • As judge, presided over wrongful death jury trial involving family killed by runaway tractor trailer; settlement reached after finding of liability in bifurcated trial
  • Construction:
    • Mediation of lawsuit against insurance company for alleged bad faith in declining coverage to contactor and college district under builder's risk policy after storm damage to partially constructed science complex; complicated issues relating to construction as well as insurance coverage; mediated to mid-trial $5.4 million settlement
  • Employment:
    • Successfully mediated to settlement lawsuit alleging wrongful termination, discrimination for disability, and failure to accommodate; successfully settled in early stages of litigation action for sexual harassment against owner/operator of assisted living/skilled care facility -- legal issues included whether the owner was strictly liable for actions of plaintiff’s co-worker or who allegedly had de facto supervisory status
  • Insurance Coverage and Subrogation/Products Liability:
    • As judge, presided over jury trial in which insurance companies sought $30 million in subrogation for losses in winery warehouse fire; presided over related coverage disputes and settlements
  • Mass Torts:
    • As judge, presided over the coordination of multiple actions from multiple counties alleging molestation of children by church officials
  • Medical Malpractice:
    • As judge, conducted mediations resulting in multimillion-dollar settlement of claims of stroke victims followed by jury trial of claims against non-settling defendant
  • Product Liability:
    • As judge, presided over jury trial alleging wrongful death by heart attack caused by an acid reflux disease medication
    • As judge, presided over jury trial of claim of defective design of a jet ski resulting in multimillion-dollar verdict for orifice injuries
  • Professional Liability:
    • As judge, presided over nationally publicized jury trial of a claim of malpractice by implantation of false memories of childhood sexual abuse
  • Real Estate:
    • Multi-million dollar settlement of dispute between municipality and owner of five-story office building condemned for urban renewal project involving complex issues of property valuation, inverse condemnation, project enhancement damages and allegations of trespass following Court's invalidation of the resolution of necessity
    • Mediation of lawsuit for fraudulent misrepresentation in sale of multi-unit apartment house; issues of broker responsibility for agent's acts, fraudulent misstatements in obtaining of financing and damages for inaccurate rental information; successfully settled
    • Eminent domain lawsuit to acquire property for freeway relocation; issues of recoverability of severance damages and possible offsetting benefit to retained lands; mediated to settlement involving payment of compensation and exchange of various additional parcels of land
    • Early-litigation court ordered mediation of case involving condemnation by county of fee interest, permanent slope easement, and temporary construction easement for construction of bridge; issues related to recoverability of temporary severance damages; successfully mediated to settlement
    • Mediation of condemnation action regarding a city's acquisition of a portion of a mobile home park to construct a flood control project; issues relating to valuation of mobile home parks, recoverability of severance damages, and offsetting benefits of the project to the park; the case was complicated by significant local publicity and scrutiny by park residents; successfully mediated to multimillion-dollar settlement
  • Wildland Fire:
    • Successfully mediated dispute brought by 125 +/- victims, fire insurers seeking subrogation, and public agencies against a public utility, contract vegetation management inspectors, and a tree trimming service for a fire allegedly caused by a tree falling on a power line. This case settled for approximately $20 million and involved complex causation issues and numerous insurance coverage complications
    • Arbitrated case involving 125 +/- victims of wildland fire and the distribution of a multimillion-dollar settlement of claims brought by uninsured and under-insured homeowners and businesses. The case had numerous complicated issues of land-diminution appraisal, valuation of destroyed personalty, valuation of emotional distress claims, as well as business costs from timber loss
Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS.

  • Recognized as "Top Neutral," Daily Journal Top California Neutrals List, 2013
  • California Center for Judicial Education and Research, teacher at numerous programs and presentations, including many years as a presenter and team leader for the Continuing Judicial Studies Program for Presiding Judges and Court Administrators
  • California Administrative Office of the Courts, frequent presenter at programs for administrators; twice member of Presiding Judges’ Standing Advisory Committee; member, Criminal Law Standing Advisory Committee
  • National Judicial College, faculty member teaching Effective Caseflow Management, and Complex Litigation
  • Teacher/Lecturer, various subjects relating to case management and court administration in California, Nevada, Missouri, Maryland, South Carolina, Florida, and Toronto, Canada
  • California Judges Association, 1980-present
ADR Profiles
  • Judge (often Presiding Judge), Napa Superior Court, 1985-2005
  • Judge (often Presiding Judge), Napa Municipal Court, 1980-1985
  • Partner, Coombs, Dunlap, Dunlap & Champlin (now Coombs & Dunlap), Napa, CA, 1972-1980
  • City Attorney, Yountville, CA, 1977-1980
  • Deputy City Attorney, Napa, 1972-1980
  • Commissioner and Chairman, Napa County Planning Commission, 1976-1980
  • Commissioner and Chairman, St. Helena City Planning Commission, 1973-1975
  • United States Army, Captain, Signal Corps, 1968-1976
  • J.D., University of California, Berkeley School of Law (formerly Boalt Hall School of Law), 1971
  • B.A., Washington & Lee University, Lexington, VA, 1968

Counsel Comments

    • "I truly appreciate your hands-on approach to resolving the case, staying 'on the saddle' throughout the day until the last signature went on the settlement agreement...I believe that keeping your finger on the pulse of the parties is critical to a successful mediation...Thank you again for your very professional and successful mediation efforts."

      Silicon Valley Civil Litigation Attorney
    • “Once again, you have pulled a very large rabbit out of a very small hat. This was a very stressful case for all of the individuals involved. There were very difficult personalities to work with and your ability to bring resolution with these dynamics does not go unnoticed.”

      - Bay Area Attorney
    • “[Judge Snowden] did a truly masterful job of putting this settlement together. I have been through at least a hundred mediations over my career and I have never had a neutral work so hard, and so effectively, at cutting to the core issues, eliminating the peripheral players/issues, and putting the settlement to bed. My clients and I are extremely grateful for his hard work and skill. And, of course, I will look forward to using him again on my next difficult settlement.”

      - San Francisco Attorney
    • "You get incredible results with [Judge Snowden]...who has a real knack for settling cases. This is a mediator who works very hard at it, is innovative, always calming to the parties, and will not rest until he has squeezed the parties into the position that they always wanted, a reasonable settlement. In short, he is probably the best mediator we have known from our experiences..."

      -Senior Partner at Bay Area Firm
    • “Judge Snowden is one of the most intelligent, articulate, involved, professional and effective mediators that I have had on a case.”
    • “I wanted to thank [Judge Snowden] again for [his] extraordinary talent in bringing this matter to a successful conclusion today.”
    • “…I appreciate [Judge Snowden’s] skills and demeanor in Mediation. It’s been one of the better experiences I have had this year in discovering his abilities are available to us.”
    • “Judge Snowden was very prepared for mediation, and was very active, energetic and involved in the entire process.”
    • “Judge Snowden is the best mediator I've ever appeared before. And a big part of that is how fun and funny he is.”
    • “Thank [Judge Snowden] for helping us successfully resolve the entire case. Tell him that I would recommend him highly and I would utilize his services again in a heartbeat.”
    • “… a phenomenal job in our recent mediation. [He is] the number 1 person on my list of people to go to when I have ADR matters. I appreciate [his] humor and common sense approach to cases…”



Practice Areas

  • Agribusiness
  • Arbitration
  • Business/Commercial
  • Employment
  • Insurance
  • Personal Injury/Torts
  • Professional Liability
  • Real Property
  • Special Master/Discovery Referee
Available nationwide


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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