Hon. Stephen J. Sundvold (Ret.)

T: 714-939-1300
F: 714-939-8710
Hon. Stephen J. Sundvold (Ret.) has served on a wide variety of case assignments during his distinguished 20-year tenure on the Orange County Superior Court, including on the Court’s High Impact Trial (HIT) team and over eight years on the Court’s Complex Civil Panel where he handled hundreds of complex matters involving construction defect, class action, eminent domain, and complex business litigation matters.

While on the Superior Court, Judge Sundvold served as a mediator or participated in settlement conferences almost every day. Numerous trial days have been saved and trips to the appellate courts have been avoided as a result of these efforts. He has earned a reputation for being a fair, hard working, tireless judge, skilled at managing a heavy caseload of complex matters and settling the difficult claims.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Successfully co-mediated cases, while on the bench, with neutrals from every resolution provider
  • Has been appointed as Mandatory Settlement Judge by other Judges from Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Kern Counties
  • Was the “go to judge” for resolution of difficult cases from Orange County, and also courts throughout Southern California, in addition to handling his own case calendars
  • Rendered significant opinions on insurance issues that are the subject of several Court of Appeal published opinions, while serving on the judiciary
  • Managed the legal department of a major insurance company prior to appointment to the bench and is intimately familiar with complex coverage issues

Representative Matters

  • Settled thousands of significant cases over the last ten years, for hundreds of millions of dollars, involving all types of issues including:
    • Business/commercial: disputes of every kind, many involving multi-million dollars
    • Construction defect: from single-family homes to high-rise condominiums
    • Professional liability: legal, medical, and dental malpractice
    • Significant personal injury: mass tort and Metrolink BNSF train wreck cases

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Recipient, Legend of an Era Award, West Coast Casualty Conference on Construction Defects, 2010
  • Member, California Judges Association, 1990-2010 (Executive Board, 2000-2003; Vice President, 2003)
  • Member, American Bar Association, 1973-1990
  • Member, Orange County Bar Association, 1985-2014
  • Member, American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), 2005-2014
  • Faculty, (Civil Procedure, Prop. 51), California Judicial College (CJER), Berkeley, 1992-1997
  • Speaker, conferences on complex legal and insurance coverage matters throughout the United States
  • "Still on Top of His Game," ADR Profile, Daily Journal, October 8, 2010

Background and Education

  • Judge, Superior Court, Orange County, 1998-2010
  • Judge, North Orange County Municipal Court, 1990-1998
  • Chief Attorney, Safeco Insurance Company, managing legal department, 1975-1990
  • Private law practice, Southern California, 1973-1975
  • Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., 1971-1973
  • J.D., magna cum laude, University of San Diego School of Law, 1971
  • B.A., Fullerton State College (now California State University), 1968


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