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Cathy Yanni

Cathy Yanni

Latest Insights
Upcoming Events
General Biography
Practice Areas
Business Commercial
Civil Rights
Class Action & Mass Tort
Cybersecurity & Privacy
Employment Law
Health Care
Intellectual Property
Life Sciences
Personal Injury
Pharmaceuticals & Mass Torts
Product Liability
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

Cathy Yanni is a full time specialist in ADR. Since joining JAMS in 1998, she has settled thousands of cases. Her practice includes mediation and Special Master work. Cathy Yanni’s substantive knowledge, her focused attention to detail, and her persistent follow up are the keys to her high success. Ms. Yanni has regularly been included on the "National Mediators" List, Chambers USA since 2019, where she is acknowledged for her "'high-quality' reputation." Sources also praise her ability to "maintain good relations and credibility with both sides." Chambers USA (2020).

Representative Matters

  • Bankruptcy
      • Appointed by the Hon. Dennis Montali to be the Administrator of the $13.5B Fire Victim Trust, which was created as part of PG&E’s bankruptcy settlement. The US Bankruptcy Court approved formation and funding of the Trust to compensate approximately 70,000 victims of the 2015 Butte Fire, 2017 North Bay Fires, and 2018 Camp Fire
      • Appointed to be the Administrator of the Wildfire Assistance Program fund on June 5, 2019 by the Hon. Dennis Montali in the matter of In re: PG&E Corporation and Pacific Gas and Electric Company, No. 19-30088- DM (Bankruptcy case). The $105 million-dollar fund was distributed to the victims of the 2017 and 2018 Northern California Wildfires
      • Appellate review officer for Takata Airbag Tort Compensation Trust Fund.  The $140 million Trust was established pursuant to a February 2017 criminal plea agreement between the US Department of Justice and Takata to resolve felony charges brought by the government against Takata in connection with the design, manufacture and sale of defective airbag inflators
  • Business Commercial
      • Breach of contract dispute between local provider and national cable company
      • Breach of contract dispute involving ownership of a dry dock and public entity
      • Breach of warranty claims by high tech computer company
      • Class action involving workers compensation carriers re: allocation of medical/legal fees
      • Dispute between equipment company and Ukrainian mining company
      • Dispute between large utility company and university regarding ongoing contractual agreements
      • Misrepresentation claims brought by buyer against seller in commercial and residential real estate matters
      • Numerous breach of contract cases between all sizes of business entities, issues included valuation, accounting, patents, trade secrets, and securities
      • Real estate investment company dispute involving an option to purchase
  • Class Action & Mass Tort
    • Pharmaceutical/Biotech/Medical Device/Life Sciences Mass Torts

      • Special Master for In Re National Prescription Opiate Litigation MDL. Appointed by Hon. Daniel A. Polster, United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. Appointed following joint recommendation of plaintiffs and defendants. Liaison to the tribes and coordinating cooperation between state and federal litigation
      • Settlement Special Master for the Abilify MDL. Appointed by the Hon. M. Casey Rodgers, United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida. Appointed following the joint recommendation of the plaintiffs and defendants settlement committee
      • Settlement Special Master for Medtronic Infuse. Appointed by the Hon. John D. Minton, Kentucky Supreme Court, mediation and allocation
      • Mediator/Special Master: Transvaginal Mesh (TVM) Cases. Appointed by The Hon. Joseph Goodwin, Southern District of West Virginia as Special Master to assist settlement and allocation of multiple settlements in the Boston Scientific, Covidien, Coloplast, AMS, and BARD MDLs
      • Mediator/Special Master: St. Jude Riata Lead Wire Medical Device Litigation
      • Mediator/Special Master: St. Jude Medical/Eon Mini Model Cases. Acted as Mediator and Special Master for settlement and allocation
      • Special Master: In re: DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., ASR™ Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation. Appointed by the Hon. David A. Katz, Northern District of Ohio to assist with distribution of $2.45 billion settlement; Special Master/Mediator CA JCCP
      • Special Master: Kelly v. Xoft. Mediated and allocated funds for claims arising out of alleged tungsten migration used in breast cancer treatment
      • Special Master: Medtronic Infuse, appointed by The Hon. Wynne Carvill, Alameda County Superior Court, California, to mediate and allocate settlement
      • Mediator: Zimmer Biomet Hip Litigation
      • Mediator: Wolf Morcellator Litigation
      • Mediator: Advanced Bionics and Cochlear implants
      • Mediator/Special Settlement and Discovery Special Master: appointed by The Hon. Dan Polster, Northern District of Ohio, in Gadolinium Contrast Dyes Product Liability Litigation, settled MDL and state court allocated inventory settlements. Appointed Special Master/mediator by The Hon. Richard Kramer in The Gadolinium CA JCCP
      • Mediator: appointed by the Hon. Anthony Mohr, Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County, for PPA cases, settled Federal MDL litigation and state court cases, allocated settlements
      • Mediator: appointed Federal Mediator in Baycol MDL by The Hon. Michael J. Davis, District of Minnesota, settled MDL and state court cases
      • Mediator: Avandia, mediated and allocated claims
      • Allocator: allocated claims arising out of the Yaz and Yasmin litigation
      • Mediator: over 1,000 Fen-Phen diet drug related cases
      • Settlement Special Master: Bextra MDL to allocate and distribute settlement proceeds
      • Settlement Special Master: Ortho Evra MDL to design and implement allocation settlement proceeds to claimants
      • Settlement Special Master: Zyprexa I, II MDL appointed by the Hon. Jack Weinstein, Eastern District of New York, to design and implement claims administration process and allocation of settlement
      • Mediator: appointed Federal Mediator in Silicone Gel Breast Implant Litigation by The Hon. Denise Hood, US District Court Eastern District Michigan
      • Mediator: Quinine Litigation, settled lawsuit and allocated funds

      Privacy/Data Breach/Technology Class Actions 

      • Mediator: Data Breach and privacy class actions, for both tech companies and other businesses as a result of phising, whaling and hacking
      • Special Master/Mediator: consumer class actions involving multiple high-tech companies, Apple, Toshiba, Palm 
      • Mediator: Claims concerning operating systems, Ipod nano, iTunes gift cards, iPhone antenna, iPad data plans, apps, desktop and notebook computers, software, computer displays, and digital music players

      Food and Beverage Class Actions 

      • Mediator: Class actions involving food products including food additive and supplements, for a wide variety of products, such as chicken, dried fruit, eggs, and yogurt
      • Mediator: False advertising class actions claims including raw milk and coconut water
      • Mediation: Hybrid claims combining class action and traditional product liability claims related to food and beverage products 


      • Mediator: Polo Ralph Lauren California wage and hour and overtime pay class action
      • Mediator: employment discrimination class action involving African American claimants against a Fortune 500 company
      • Special Master/Mediator: wage and hour class actions including PAGA claims involving financial institutions, insurance companies, retailers, automotive dealers, and vehicle rental companies

      Mass Actions

      • Special Master: designed, implemented, and allocated the Oso Landslide Washington state settlement.  The slide killed 43 people
      • Mediator/Special Master: Americans with Disabilities Act class actions against major public and private universities; monitoring of post-settlement consent decrees

      Commercial Class Actions

      • Mediator: California Business and Professions Code §17200 cases involving financial institutions and automotive dealers
      • Mediator: class action (mediated in Guam) involving the citizens of Guam and distribution of $90 million dollars of earned income tax credits
      • Mediator: cross-border, multi-national class action (mediated in Japan) involving Japanese conglomerate, Siapan, and U.S. companies’ banking dispute

      Special Master:

      • Class action/mass torts/MDLs
      • Settlement Special Master: mediate and allocate
  • Employment Law
    • Wage and Hour Claims

      • Mediator in Polo Ralph Lauren California wage and hour and overtime pay class action lawsuit involving 6,700 member class; case involved protracted negotiations and settled two weeks into trial 
      • Numerous wage and hour class action and individual cases including alleged misclassification of employees as exempt, failure to provide meal and rest periods, donning and doffing cases, improper distribution of tips, and PAGA claims

      Settlement Special Master:  allocated and adjudicated post-settlement claims involving financial institutions, insurance companies, retailers, automotive dealers, and vehicle rental companies

      Wrongful Termination

      • Breach of contract claims including commission issues and intellectual property (non-competition and trade secret) 
      • Executive termination cases including restricted stock, valuation of stock options, and stock option vesting
      • Public entity wrongful termination and whistleblower cases
      • Retaliation claims allegedly for engaging in protected activity and unlawful practices


      • Class actions and individual claims involving age, race, gender, disability, religion, national origin or sexual orientation
      • Pregnancy and family medical leave/family rights discrimination cases involving termination of employees on leave and failure to reinstate employees

      Sexual Harassment

      • Individual and multiple claims including minors, sexual abuse, and significant psychological injuries involving federal and state law

      Americans with Disabilities Act

      • Class actions and individual claims against major university
      • Claims involving discrimination, architectural barriers, hearing impaired students, and failure to provide access
      • Class action against major financial institution and insurance company involving claims of discriminatory underwriting
      • Disability class action involving African American claimants against a Fortune 500 company
      • Acted as Court Monitor for compliance in both private and public university and state college systems for access issues and hearing impaired issues


      • Claims involving tax and federal preemption issues
      • Claims involving breach of fiduciary duty in the management of trust fund assets
      • Denial of long-term disability benefits claims
      • Trade secrets, non-compete, and non-solicitation disputes

      Special Master/Discovery Referee:

      • Appointed by the Hon. Marilyn Hall Patel, US District Court, Northern District of California, to oversee all aspects of a multiparty racial discrimination case
      • Discovery Referee for multiple multiparty racial discrimination cases against a variety of public entities and adjudicated issues involving attorney-client privilege, privacy, and production of electronic discovery
      • Special Master of numerous wage and hour cases involving allocation of settlement proceeds among class members
  • Insurance
    • Bad Faith

      • Claims by insured against CGL policy: involve extent of advertising injury coverage
      • Class actions brought by insureds against multiple workers compensation carriers: issues involve the allocation of medical/legal expense and reserves
      • Claims involve failure to defend with multiple insurers and allocation of the risk
      • Claims involve failure to provide long-term disability coverage


      • Acted as Umpire in business valuation and interruption claim
      • Environmental litigation: application of pollution exclusion and triggers to multiple policies
      • Multiple cases: issues involve first and third party coverage, application of exclusions and indemnity


      • Claims involving tax and federal preemption issues and disability claims

      Indemnity and Contribution

      • Numerous cases brought by insurers where there were multiple insurers on the risk, (construction defect and environmental underlying matters); allocation and additional insured issues


      • Multiple claims brought by insurers against third parties as a result of fire loss and construction defects
  • Intellectual Property
      • Handled trade secret, copyright, and trademark dispute between competing dental groups
      • Mediated and acted as Special Master in multiple consumer class actions involving high-tech computer companies
      • Mediated breach of contract dispute between 3D computer game designer and game company
      • Mediated breach of contract dispute between high-tech company and software supplier
      • Mediated breach of contract dispute between silicon wafer manufacturer and supplier
      • Mediated class action between computer company and consumers regarding operating system
      • Mediated corporate dissolution between founder and company regarding intellectual property rights and employment issues
      • Mediated e-commerce dispute between internet interactive educational corporations
      • Mediated employment dispute between company and sales representative regarding commissions
      • Mediated employment dispute between founder and corporation: issues involved wrongful termination, patents, royalty rights, and securities issues
      • Mediated partnership dissolution issues involving copyright, trademark, and royalty rights
      • Mediated trademark case involving misuse of trade name
      • Special Master for multiparty biotechnology patent infringement and antitrust case
  • Personal Injury
    • Construction

      • Ironworker injuries: mediated catastrophic injury claims
      • Mold: mediated mold claims involving personal injury and property damage
      • Wrongful death: mediated and acted as Discovery Referee for construction site injuries including wrongful death cas

      Health Care/Elder Abuse

      • Mediated claims involving hospitals, nursing homes, doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel
      • All types of physical and financial elder abuse cases including actions against skilled nursing facilities, residential care facilities, assisted living facilities, and hospitals, plus claims of understaffing, fraud, mishandling finances, and unfair business practices
      • Mediated tort cases involving fertility issues, including those with professional malpractice claims and class actions

      Premises Liability

      • Mediated bar fight involving psychological issues
      • Mediated neighbor disputes including fence line/easement matters
      • Slip and falls: mediated dozens of cases involving significant injuries and high loss claims

      Product Liability

      • Automobiles: mediated all types of cases involving automobiles, sport utility vehicle rollovers, faulty brakes, tires, airbags, seat belts, and gas tank explosions
      • Airplane: product defect wrongful death

      San Diego Wildfire Cases

      • Mediated hundreds of claims including business losses, property damage, and personal injury claims arising from the October 2007 San Diego wild fires

      Sports Accidents

      • Mediated skiing, horseback riding, golf, and boating accident cases 


      • Accident cases: mediated all types of cases involving automobiles, motorcycles, trucks, bicycles, and snow mobiles
      • Design defect: mediated dozens of cases including claims involving county, state, and federal highway design
      • Wrongful death: mediated cases with claims in excess of 5 million dollars

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS.

  • Included on the "National Mediators" List, Chambers USA, 2019-2023
  • Recognized as an “ADR Champion,” National Law Journal, 2016, 2018
  • Recognized as "Top Master," Daily Journal Top California Neutrals List, 2013
  • Recognized as a "Top California Neutral," Daily Journal, 2003-2008, 2010-2012
  • Recognized as AV Preeminent in Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Ratings
  • Woman of Achievement Award, Legal Momentum, 2008
  • Past President and Board of Directors, Academy of Court-Appointed Masters (ACAM)
  • Board of Directors, The American College of e-Neutrals (ACESIN)
  • Lecturer, Mediation and Negotiation, Stanford Law School, University of California Berkeley School of Law, University of San Francisco School of Law, Golden Gate Law School, Hastings College of the Law, University of San Diego School of Law, Duke University Law School
  • Sedona Conference: E-Discovery Dispute Resolution Program for Special Masters & Mediators
  • Conducts CLE seminars on ADR: Mediation, Negotiation, Ethics, Bias, Employment, Insurance, Special Masters and Referees, Intellectual Property, and e-Discovery
  • "Big Cases, Personal Touch," Daily Journal, ADR Profile, May 30, 2014

Background and Education

  • Panelist, JAMS, San Francisco, 1998-present
  • Discovery Referee, San Mateo County Superior Court, 1994-1998
  • Litigation Partner, major San Francisco law firm
  • Mediation Workshop, Harvard Law School Program of Instruction for Lawyers
  • J.D., Golden Gate University School of Law; Editor, Law Review
  • B.A., Mount Holyoke College; Dartmouth College; Honors Commendation


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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