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Rebecca Westerfield

Hon. Rebecca Westerfield (Ret.)


Case Manager
Melissa Ornstil
T: 415-774-2600
F: 415-982-5287
Two Embarcadero Center, Suite 1500, San Francisco, CA 94111

Biography

Hon. Rebecca Westerfield (Ret.) has settled and arbitrated thousands of domestic cases and cross-border disputes throughout the United States. A full-time JAMS panelist since 1992, Judge Westerfield is widely perceived as a tenacious mediator. Her extensive experience includes complex, multi-party, multi-issue cases with underlying insurance coverage disputes. She is particularly adept at dealing with matters that involve cross-cultural dynamics and high emotional content, such as business dissolutions, catastrophic personal injury litigation and family estate matters. Parties have included Fortune 500 companies and other publicly owned corporations, Silicon Valley entities and multinational corporations.

In arbitrations, Judge Westerfield is known for managing the process efficiently and fairly. Her managerial arbitration style provides parties with an opportunity to be fully heard while moving the process to conclusion.

 

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Judge Westerfield’s successful ADR practice includes both arbitration and mediation of accounting, financial markets, banking, business/commercial, civil rights, class action/mass tort, employment, entertainment, estates/probate/trusts, franchises, government public agencies, health care, insurance, personal injury, professional liability, real property and securities matters
  • Continually recognized as an ADR leader in California and beyond by publications such as The Recorder, The Daily Journal and the National Law Journal
  • Presenter on mediation and ADR-related topics in Europe and Asia as well as serving as an adjunct at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
  • Elected as a Fellow in the College of Commercial Arbitrators
  • Certified Mediator, International Mediation Institute

 

Representative Matters


Arbitration
  • Business cases, including contract and licensing disputes
  • Disputes relating to valuations in stock purchase agreements and earnout provisions
  • Real estate matters, including those involving breach of fiduciary duties by boards of directors of homeowners’ associations
  • Professional fees disputes
  • Professional malpractice disputes involving lawyers, accountants, doctors and psychiatrists, among others
  • Employment disputes involving wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment and retaliation
  • Health care disputes involving coverage, and payment and billing disputes among HMOs, insurance companies, physicians and hospital providers, as well as billing disputes between insurers and hospitals/providers
  • Insurance coverage disputes
  • Unsuitable investment and fraud claims
  • Environmental remediation disputes
  • Disputes between domestic and international companies arising from allegations of breach of contract, partnership, joint venture, shareholder and operations agreements
  • International arbitrations using JAMS International Arbitration Rules as well as International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) matters
Business and Commercial Disputes
  • Variety of contractual and tort claims involving commercial business owners, including trade secrets, libel and slander, including Internet defamation, interference with contractual relations, as well as  unfair competition claims under California Business and Professions Code § 17200
  • Business disputes involving Fortune 500 companies and “family offices”
  • Complicated software, technology and cloud computing breach of contract disputes including bitcoin transactions
  • E-commerce contractual disputes involving payment service providers and businesses
  • Social media network and Internet defamation cases
  • Complex, multi-party, high-value disputes, including multi-million-dollar disputes arising out of casino developments on tribal lands
  • Accounting and fraud disputes
  • Franchise disputes
  • Facilitated negotiation for sale of a closely held corporate manufacturer
  • Software licensing agreement disputes
  • Dissolution of business partnerships, joint ventures and closely held corporations 
  • Insurance coverage and payment disputes
  • Lending disputes  
  • Trade secret disputes and IP counterfeiting disputes
  • Unfair competition
  • Breach of fiduciary duties
  • Banking disputes regarding unauthorized account activity
Civil Rights 
  • Title IX disputes
  • Multiple class actions and individual matters involving ADA claims
  • Cases involving the Brown Act, which guarantees the public's right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies
  • Invasion of privacy cases involving mobile devices, cloud storage and retail technology outlets
  • Housing accessibility case involving a major municipality
  • Use of excessive force claims
Class Actions/Mass Tort
  • Multi-districts litigation (MDL) special discovery master product liability
  • Allocation of settlement funds to individual claimants
  • Wage and hour class actions
  • Consumer cases involving mobile devices
  • Consumer complaints against banks
  • Product liability matters, including pharmaceutical and food-related torts
  • Shareholder class actions
  • TCPA and other privacy/data breach disputes
  • ADA cases
  • MDL antitrust litigation involving consumers in Illinois Brick non-repealer and repealer states

Employment

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Claims, Including Class Actions
    • Class actions and individual matters involving ADA claims
  • Executive Breach of Contract Claims, Including Theft of Trade Secret and Employee Raiding
    • Contract dispute involving allegations that the respondent company poached claimant's most successful and essential employees
    • Multiple cases involving alleged breaches of contracts with high-level executives and attendant stock valuation issues
    • Dissolution of closely held corporations and family businesses, including complex valuation issues
  • Discrimination Claims, Including Class Actions
    • Multiple class actions and individual cases involving age, race, disability and gender discrimination claims
    • Disability discrimination cases involving issues such as failure to provide reasonable accommodations, and the relationship and discrepancies between payments under workers’ compensation, long-term disability and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
    • Single case with 102 individual claims for race, sex and age discrimination brought after a massive reduction in force by a single defendant entity with multiple funding authorities, including governmental agencies
    • Cases involving California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) claims
    • Cases with claims of discrimination related to pregnancy and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • ERISA
    • Cases involving breach of fiduciary duty in the management of trust fund assets
    • Cases involving denial of long-term disability benefits
  • Financial Markets Employment Cases
    • Executive termination cases involving the valuation of stock options
    • Wide range of employment matters in the investment banking industry, including hedge funds, banks and private equity and venture capital firms
  • International Business Employment Claims
    • Multiple cases with international businesses involved in disputes with their U.S.-based employees, involving complex, cross-cultural issues  
  • Sexual Harassment Claims, Including Class Actions
    • Multiple sexual harassment and battery cases with issues regarding appropriate investigation, significant psychological injury and insurance coverage
    • Case involving sexual harassment claims with underlying breach of contract claims and insurance coverage issues
    • Cases involving sexual harassment claims against an international billionaire, professional athlete and media celebrity
  • Trade Secret, Noncompete and Nonsolicitation Disputes
    • Employment disputes involving high-level executives accused of breaching noncompete and nonsolicitation contracts, theft of trade secrets and use of proprietary information
  • Wage and Hour Claims, Including Class Actions
    • Multiple class actions and individual cases involving wage and hour claims, including the alleged misclassification of employees as exempt, the failure to provide meal and rest periods, the failure to distribute tips and service charges, travel time and off-the-clock work
  • Whistleblower Cases
    • Whistleblower claims in the health care industry
    • Employment disputes involving Sarbanes–Oxley Act whistleblower claims
  • Wrongful Termination Claims
    • Wrongful termination matters where special considerations were made for parties in bankruptcy
    • Wrongful termination claims relating to accounting malpractice, such as failure to follow GAAP or Sarbanes–Oxley Act claims

Estates and Probates

  • Contentious dispute between co‑trustees
  • Disputes between children of the deceased parents and living step-parents over division and handling of the trust and estate
  • Contentious division of family estate valued in excess of $100 million (complex tax and valuation issues)
  • Matters involving disputes over value of real estate and stock in the trust, as well as buyouts of ongoing business
  • Series of sensitive family disputes over a trust involving sexual abuse allegations against the administrator of the estate, as well as a separate dispute involving a Marvin contract
  • Case involving split of assets when a relationship ended between a couple that owned high-profile and successful business

Healthcare

  • Dispute involving claim where insurer underpaid or failed to pay for services provided by hospital’s professional and ancillary providers
  • Qui tam/False Claims Act case involving relator, government and the business
  • Employee-raiding dispute involving health care provider and allegations that the respondent company poached claimant's most successful and essential employees
  • Arbitrated and mediated contract disputes between health care providers and insurers
  • Arbitrated and mediated cases involving coverage and payment disputes between HMOs
  • Handled cases involving insurance companies, physicians and providers
  • Case involving allegations of improper capitation recoupments and underpayments by insurance company for contracted capitated health care services provided to the insurance company members by a health care system; allegations included unfair and unlawful business practices
  • Contractual disputes between a medical billing service provider and medical provider client
  • Payor/provider billing disputes
  • Arbitrated and mediated cases handling health care employment issues, including practice dissolutions and high-level doctor and hospital severance agreements
  • Arbitrated contract dispute between hospital and not-for-profit health network

Insurance

  • Attorneys’ Fees
    • Billing disputes involving Cumis counsel fees
    • Issues as to amount and allocation of defense costs among multiple insurers
  • Bad Faith
    • Claims for failure to settle
    • Doctors groups claiming insurer failed to provide coverage
    • Numerous claims involving failure to provide indemnity coverage under particular policy language
  • Coverage
    • Environmental litigation: application of pollution exclusion and triggers to multiple policies
    • Served as special master in determining the meaning of "action in controversy"
  • Indemnity and Contribution
    • Allocation among multiple insurers, e.g., mold claims, environmental claims, product liability and landlord-tenant
    • Claims regarding construction defects
    • Dealing with special statutory issues involving California Insurance Guarantee Association (CIGA)
    • Disputes regarding application policy periods
  • Subrogation
    • Multi-million-dollar claim involving multiple carriers against a third party as a result of fire loss incurred by two condominium associations
    • Numerous claims arising out of fires, thefts, vandalism and construction defects

International

  • Mediations involving international laws in countries including Turkey and Dubai
  • Cases involving the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards
  • Multiple contract disputes with various European and Asian manufacturers and suppliers
  • Claims over Central American energy sources
  • Disputes among Asian partnerships
  • Claim for fire loss/damage to a high-technology product stored in a warehouse in India, involving foreign law and insurance subrogation issues
  • Arbitration involving business disputes in Eastern Europe

Personal Injury/Torts

  • Cases involving the deaths of or permanent injury to children
  • Multiple cases arising from the deaths of elder people during care at nursing facilities
  • Auto and public transportation fatalities
  • Multiple wrongful death and permanent personal injury cases arising out of maritime accidents occurring between boats, on ferries and on cruise ships.
  • Loss of limbs at an amusement park
  • Injuries resulting from alleged use of excessive force in policing actions
  • Wrongful death claims involving machine product liability
  • Cases involving burn injuries and disfigurement
  • Death due to scalding on construction site
  • Death due to toxic exposure on the high seas
  • Fatality due to dog mauling
  • Industrial machinery product liability claim involving wrongful death
  • Medical malpractice claims involving wrongful death and permanent injury
  • Numerous cases involving multiple severely injured parties in a single occurrence and limited insurance coverage
  • Quadriplegia as a result of a sailing accident

Professional Liability

  • Accounting Malpractice
    • Failure to advise properly on the Alternative Minimum Tax effect
    • Failure to discern fraud upon independent audit
    • Failure to file proper tax returns for a multi-million-dollar estate
    • Failure to provide appropriate advice on the exercise of stock options
  • Legal Malpractice
    • Underlying cases have involved antitrust matters, probate and estate issues, personal injury claims, contract disputes, business transactions, financial restrictions and closing documents
  • Medical and Dental Malpractice
    • Cases involving the elderly with attendant elder abuse statutory claims
    • Death of a child resulting from extubation
    • Failure to diagnose
    • Permanent brain injury to a child during delivery
    • Surgical procedures resulting in death and permanent injuries
    • Chiropractic and acupuncture malpractice
    • Understaffing of elder care facilities
  • Psychiatric Malpractice
    • Inappropriate treatment
    • Sexual assault claims
    • Violation of boundaries between health care provider and patient

Real Estate

  • Construction Defects
    • Claims involving subdivisions and large condominium complexes as well as single-family dwellings
  • Easement/Boundary Line
    • Matters involving neighbors, governmental entities and utility companies
  • Environmental
    • Failure to disclose existence of a Superfund site next to new subdivision development
    • $40 million dispute regarding allocation of remedial costs for groundwater contamination
  • Fire Loss
    • Residential and commercial fire loss claims; third-party and subrogation claims as a result of fire damage to commercial buildings, condominiums and single-family residences, and attendant complex insurance issues
  • Landlord-Tenant (Commercial and Residential)
    • High‑profile landlord-tenant matters involving successful Bay Area entrepreneurs
    • Disputes involving owner-landlord’s condominium conversion in San Francisco; Ellis Act/unlawful detainer and tenant’s cross-complaint
    • Disputes regarding tenant improvements of commercial property
    • Numerous claims regarding warranty of habitability
    • Numerous rent control ordinance wrongful evictions per alleged pretextual owner move-in; Ellis Act
    • Premises liability issues involving death and permanent injuries
    • Retaliation claims under rent statutes
  • Mold
    • Multiple claims involving mold remediation and personal injury and insurance issues
  • Real Estate Transactions
    • Claims regarding concealment and nondisclosure of defects, lack of building permits and code compliance, zoning and other land use controls, neighborhood problems and other matters involved in the purchase and sale of residential properties, including claims presented against sellers, brokers, agents and whole house, pest and other inspectors
    • Multi-million-dollar casino development on tribal lands
    • Professional malpractice of realtors
    • Shopping mall commercial lease dispute
    • Arbitration determining fair market value of minimum rent under commercial lease option to extend

Securities/Banking

  • Backdated stock options disputes
  • Breach of fiduciary duties
  • Brokerage firm's failure to supervise
  • Employment disputes in the securities industry, including discrimination (sex, race and age); sexual harassment; and wrongful termination/breach of contract
  • Legal malpractice involving under-securitization
  • Matters involving brokerage firms, hedge funds and financial advisors
  • Misrepresentation/fraud claims pursuant to SEC Rule10b-5
  • Suitability of investments
  • Unauthorized transactions and trading
  • Fraud

Sports and Entertainment 

  • Real estate contract and licensing agreement dispute involving professional sports team
  • Accounting issues arising from film distribution agreement
  • Catastrophic permanent injuries involving amusement parks
  • Claims of sexual harassment by well-known professional athletes and media celebrities
  • Copyright claims involved with popular media application
  • Libel of well-known publisher by financial magazine
  • Licensing of popular television series
  • Personal injuries in amateur sports
  • Dispute over production of multi-million-dollar, high-tech event for a client in the Middle East
  • Sale of casino under Nevada state law
  • Stock purchase agreement involving sale of DVD distribution company and earnout provisions
  • Tribal dispute over casino development

  • Active Member, State Bar of California
  • Member, ArbitralWomen, 2019
  • Advisor; Center for Advanced Mediation Practice; Bangalore, India; 2018
  • Certified Mediator, International Mediation Institute, 2017
  • Presenter, Mediation, University of Southern California Gould School of Law School, 2018
  • Co-Chair, Global Pound Conference, International Mediation Institute (Northern California), 2016–2017
  • Presenter; USA/Italy Dialogue on Judicial Reform: Alternative Dispute Resolution; Rome, Italy; 2016
  • Presenter, USC/JAMS Arbitration Institute Symposium: Advanced Arbitration Academy, Los Angeles, 2016
  • Presenter; Admont International Summer School on Business Mediation; Admont, Austria; 2006, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016
  • Presenter; Bangalore Chamber of Commerce, Conclave on Alternative Dispute Resolution; Bangalore, India; 2016
  • Recognized as an “ADR Champion,” National Law Journal, 2016, 2018
  • Presenter; ABA Asia Pacific International Mediation Summit; New Delhi, India; 2015
  • Presenter; Private Commercial Mediation Conclave; Bangalore, India; 2015
  • Trainer, ADR for Supreme Court of India (Delhi), High Court of Bangalore, 2013
  • Elected Fellow, College of Commercial Arbitrators
  • "Top Master," Daily Journal Top California Neutrals List, 2013
  • "Top California Neutral," Daily Journal, 2002–2012 (from the inception of the recognition to its conclusion)
  • Best Lawyer, Alternative Dispute Resolution Category, Best Lawyers in America, 2008–2018, and Northern California Super Lawyer, 2008, 2010–2018
  • Best Lawyer in the Bay Area, San Francisco Business Times, 2009
  • One of the Top Three Best Neutrals in the Bay Area, The Recorder, 2007
  • One of the 500 Leading Judges in America, Lawdragon magazine, 2006
  • Distinguished Mediator of the Year, San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, 2003
  • One of the Top 10 Mediators in the Bay Area, The Recorder, 2002
  • Member, Advisory Council to the ABA International Human Rights Center, 2011–2014
  • Member, Advisory Board University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, Human Rights Center, 2009–present
  • Member, National Association of Women Judges, International Association of Women Judges, ABA Women in Dispute Resolution Committee
  • Member, International Academy of Trial Judges, Northern California International Arbitration Committee
  • Chair, International Human Rights Committee, The Bar Association of San Francisco, 2009–2011
  • Participant, International Human Rights Summer School, New College at the University of Oxford, 2004
  • Member, American Bar Association House of Delegates, 1987–1991, 1996–2008
  • Board of Directors, The Bar Association of San Francisco, 1994–1997
  • Chair, American Bar Association Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities (now Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice), 1994–1995
  • Co-authored the ADR chapter of CEB's Wrongful Termination Practice 2ed. (1997)
  • Adjunct Professor, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
  • Lecturer, Stanford Law School
  • "Enduring Optimism," ADR Profile, Daily Journal, June 28, 2013
  • Appointed Judge; Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Kentucky (court of general jurisdiction); 1987–1992
  • Admitted to Bar of United States Supreme Court and Sixth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals
  • M.A., Stanford University, 2008
  • J.D., University of Kentucky, 1975 (Law Journal, National Moot Court Team)
  • B.A., University of Kentucky, with distinction, 1972
  • Serves on ADR panel for the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California

Counsel Comments

    • "I really enjoyed mediating the case with [Judge Westerfield] , and I was impressed with [her] patience, empathy, clarity, flexibility, and determination. I am strongly recommending [her] to my colleagues, and I look forward to our next mediation."

      - Bay Area Attorney
    • "Judge Westerfield was remarkable, truly remarkable.  This has to be one of the toughest mediations she’s ever had in terms of the difficult nature of the parties."

      - Bay Area Attorney

News

Events

Practice Areas

  • Accounting/Finance
  • Arbitration
  • Banking
  • Business/Commercial
  • Civil Rights
  • Class Action/Mass Tort
  • Cybersecurity & Privacy
  • Employment
  • Entertainment and Sports
  • Environmental
  • Estates/Probate/Trusts
  • Federal Law
  • Financial Markets
  • Franchise
  • Governmental/Public Agency
  • Health Care
  • Insurance
  • International
  • Personal Injury/Torts
  • Professional Liability
  • Real Property
  • Securities

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

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