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W. Scott Snowden

Hon. W. Scott Snowden (Ret.)

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Case Manager
Karen Clerici
T: 916-830-7102
F: 916-565-7780
2520 Venture Oaks Way , Suite 400 , Sacramento , CA 95833

Hon. W. Scott Snowden (Ret.) served as a Napa Superior Court Judge for more than 15 years where he developed a strong reputation for resolving complex litigation matters, many of them involving real property disputes.

As a JAMS neutral, Judge Snowden has mediated and arbitrated numerous matters involving purchase and sale, easement disputes, construction contract disputes, claims by homeowners associations, and eminent domain. He is also experienced resolving landlord/tenant disputes, quiet title actions, multi-party construction defect disputes, lender and title company liability claims, flood and fire damage disputes, and many other matters involving real property.

Judge Snowden is widely praised for his thoughtful, facilitative style and is highly regarded by all parties for his ability to resolve even the most difficult disputes.

Representative Matters

  • 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
  • Action against two public agencies, a developer and neighbor for flood damage to a home. Issues relating to nature and extent of damages and relative responsibility of defendants for the flooding
  • Appropriateness of rent increase under the city ordinance
  • Arbitration of claim by seller of residential real property against broker for alleged breach of duty to defend suit brought by buyer
  • Defendants agreed to sell plaintiff property for $7M, collected $100k deposit from plaintiff. Defendants misrepresented property's zoning
  • Dispute between adjoining landowners, their predecessors in interest, real estate broker and title insurance company regarding access easement to one property over the other. Allegations of easement by implication of realtor malpractice and breach of duty by title company. Successfully mediated to settlement by buyout of one party by another
  • Dispute over the return of deposit in purchase & sales agreement
  • Early litigation mediation of lawsuit for rescission of land sale contract regarding development property. Issues regarding buyer's redemption or other default curing rights where seller retained title and possession under installment sales contract. Successfully settled
  • Eminent domain action to condemn approx 8 acres for freeway construction; factual issues regarding appraisal methods and severance damages; legal issues regarding valuation of dedicated land
  • Eminent domain to condemn 15 acres for construction of freeway and onramp and offramp. Legal issues re apportionment of award between multiple developer condemnees; valuation of "Rockville" dedicated land; reconveyance of developable land
  • Eminent Domain. Redevelopment Agency condemnation of billboard adjacent to major freeway. Valuation issues relating to differing appraisers' approaches. Complex related real estate issues regarding relocation of this and other billboards along this and other freeways and "political" issues relating thereto as possible compensation or partial compensation for the take
  • Governmental tort/premises liability. Successfully settled tort action against a county for allegedly designing or maintaining a dangerous roadway. The action was brought by a motorcyclist who crashed suffering brain injury and multiple other fractures
  • Inverse condemnation action brought by a church alleging damage to property's utility and value by defendant city's abandonment of plans for roadway along parcel boundary and digging of well and installation of bike path within former planned road location. Issues related to whether impairment of access was a taking or non-compensable exercise of city's police power. Successfully mediated
  • Joint arbitration of disputes between landlord and tenant over ground lease for vineyard development and operation and premises lease for operation of a super-premium winery. Numerous issues relating to construction and operational disputes and local government regulation
  • Landlord tenant dispute over rent escalation provisions of vineyard ground lease in prime premium wine grape growing location. Successfully mediated
  • Lawsuit alleging fraud in the providing of financing; issues of lender liability and title company liability
  • Lawsuit and cross-action for encroachment and to quiet title to prescriptive easement between owner of commercial building and adjoining commercial/residential-condominium development
  • Lawsuit between neighbors over utilization of jointly owned easement and for trespass and nuisance. Issues relating to survival of easement rights following subdivision and re-subdivision of parcel. Successfully mediated to settlement
  • Lawsuit by California State Parks Department against public utility for loss of trees incident to vegetation management work. Legal issues relating to enforceability and scope of unrecorded easement agreement between prior owners. Successfully mediated to agreement on damages as well as protocols for future vegetation management
  • Lawsuit to quiet title to various easements and water-related entitlements; cross actions for same; complex title insurance and coverage issues.
  • Mobile Home case
  • Partition action involving 475 acres of Napa Valley hillside land between various co-tenants claiming title from 1907 devise. Case was mediated to a settlement where the minority owners purchased the majority owner's interest in a multi-million dollar buy-out
  • Pre-litigation claim of flood victim against municipality for causing property and other damage by construction of a levee in such a way as to allegedly cause a public nuisance and the inundation of a residence and business. Issues related to the propriety of actions by the city and the recoverability of various types of damages. Successfully mediated to settlement
  • Pre-litigation mediation of dispute between homebuyer and realtor regarding alleged failure to disclose defects in home. Allegations of breach of fiduciary duty and elder abuse. Successfully settled
  • Pre-litigation mediation pursuant to contractual provision of real estate sales agreement. Claim for specific performance of land sale contract. Issues of possible conditional nature of sale and of authority of single trustee to bind trust. Potential cross action for realtor malpractice. Mediated to settlement
  • Quiet title action between vineyard company and adjacent landowner regarding disputed land between parcels. Issues of adverse possession, prescriptive easement, significance of errors in Assessor's Parcel description
  • Quiet title lawsuit regarding survival of deeded easement after transfers allegedly resulting in a merger of title and/or extinction of easement following foreclosure. Issues of alleged title insurance malpractice and/or bad faith. All issues successfully mediated
  • 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
  • "Mr. Mediator Man, " ADR Profile, Daily Journal, July 16, 2010
  • "Uncorked: Retired judge Scott Snowden is the arbiter of fine wine and more," San Francisco Chronicle, October 26, 2007
  • 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

    “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.” - San Francisco Attorney

    Recognized as a "Top Neutral," Daily Journal Top California Neutrals List, 2013

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