Mediator • Special Master

Steven Abern, Esq. brings unparalleled expertise to ADR Services, Inc. His extensive legal career spans 34 years, during which he served as the Managing Partner at Haapala, Thompson & Abern, one of the preeminent insurance defense firms in the Bay Area. His legal acumen is built on a foundation of litigating thousands disputes encompassing landlord-tenant issues, landslide and earth movement cases, premises liability, ADA claims, construction and real estate matters, personal injury, and public entity disputes.

Mr. Abern’s exceptional track record includes over 100 successful mediations as a private mediator and settlement mentor prior to joining ADR Services, Inc. He values a positive, efficient and solution-oriented approach that acknowledges the needs of both litigants and participating professionals. Having worked closely with insurance claims professionals over the entire span of his career, particularly in matters in which insurance coverage was disputed, he is uniquely suited to mediating matters where insurance coverage and contribution is involved.  He has developed a rapport with both counsel and insurance professionals which he has drawn upon in mediation to settle matters efficiently to the satisfaction of all involved.

Admitted to practice in 1990, Mr. Abern is an AV-rated attorney with extensive experience as trial counsel. His litigation experience includes numerous jury trials, arbitrations, and over 1,000 mediations as an advocate, providing him with a well-rounded perspective on dispute resolution. Additionally, he has significant appellate experience, further enhancing his capabilities as a mediator. His dedication to achieving fair and effective resolutions, combined with his comprehensive legal background, makes him a valuable asset to any mediation process.


  • Landlord/Tenant
  • Landslide and Earth Movement
  • Premises Liability
  • ADA Claims
  • Construction and Real Estate
  • HOA Claims
  • Mold Claims
  • Boundary and Neighbor Disputes
  • Personal Injury
  • Brain Injury and Wrongful Death


  • University of San Francisco School of Law, 1990
  • Grinnell College, 1979


  • 2024 – Present Mediator and Special Master, ADR Services, Inc.
  • 1990 – 2024 Partner, Haapala, Thompson & Abern

Representative Cases


  • Handled through a successful appeal a personal injury matter in which a disabled plaintiff sued under the ADA after she fell while stepping onto a curb from a disabled-parking space in which she had not parked.
  • Mediated many ADA matters in which a disabled plaintiff alleged accessibility barriers in public accommodations.
  • Mediated any ADA matter in which a sight-impaired plaintiff alleged accessibility barriers in a website.


  • Successfully mediated a case in which many tenants in a facility for elderly and disabled tenants sued for bedbug and cockroach infestation.
  • Successfully mediated tens of cases in which tenants sued under state and local laws for habitability, tenant harassment and constructive eviction claims.
  • Successfully mediated tens of cases in which tenants sued for mold and pest and rat infestation.
  • Successfully mediated many cases in which tenants sued because their dwelling units were not permitted.
  • Handled more than 200 landlord-tenant cases in which tenants sued under state and local laws for habitability, tenant harassment and constructive eviction claims.
  • Handled a wrongful eviction claim in which plaintiff and her boyfriend were evicted during the eviction moratorium after her boyfriend assaulted another tenant in the building with a pickaxe.
  • Handled many cases in which tenants were displaced by fires which, in some cases were due to the fault of the landlord and, in other cases were not due to the fault of the landlord.
  • Handled a mobile home park case involving the interpretation and application of Civil Code §798.37.5.
  • Handled tens of mold claims brought by tenants. Many were due to landlord-caused water intrusion and many others were due to tenant lifestyle.
  • Handled tens of bedbug and cockroach cases.
  • Handled a mold and constructive eviction claim brought by a tenant whose ex-boyfriend broke into her apartment and flooded it with over 700,000 gallons of water.
  • Handled a case in which landlord was sued for failing to resolve a dispute between upstairs and downstairs tenants in a two-story duplex.
  • Handled a habitability, tenant harassment and disabled access claim involving 96 tenants in a SRO. The case involved a court-appointed receiver, a Chapter 11 trustee, numerous bankruptcy creditors, numerous coverage attorneys and a public entity.

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HOA Liability

  • Handled many cases brought by HOA members against HOA Boards, officers and directors for alleged breaches of CC&Rs.
  • Handled many cases brought by HOA members against HOA Boards, officers and directors to compel replacement of roofs, heating facilities and other building systems.

Personal Injury

  • Successfully mediated a case in which plaintiff claimed injury when a police vehicle rolled slowly into hers during a traffic stop.
  • Handled a lead toxicity case brought on behalf of a minor who ate lead-containing dirt around the dripline of the rental house.
  • Handled an alleged brain injury case in which plaintiff claimed to have fallen from a door leading to a missing land. The plaintiff presented with a profoundly altered affect. The case resolved after another neighbor testified that he had never seen the plaintiff display the affect that he had displayed in the litigation.
  • Handled a wrongful death matter in which two estranged parents sued one another for their son’s suicide.
  • Handled more than 200 personal injury, brain injury and wrongful death arising from vehicle accidents.
  • Handled many personal injury cases arising from dog bits.
  • Handled several personal injury and wrongful death cases arising from carbon monoxide exposure.
  • Handled a hypoxia case in which a child was choked by misusing a swing.

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Landslide/Earth Movement

  • Handled tens of cases involving landslide, earth movement and trespass by water.

Sexual Abuse/Assault

  • Handled several matters alleging sexual assaults upon minors by relatives of home day-care facilities.
  • Handled a matter involving sexual assaults upon minors by the pastoral staff of a mega-church.
  • Handled a matter alleging sexual assault upon a minor by a family friend.


  • Handled several boating cases in which passengers and skiers were injured by negligent boaters.
  • Handled a boating case in which a passenger suffered a degloving injury after the tow rope she was handling was sucked into the boat’s impeller.


  • Handled many cases in which retailers were sued for selling knock-off designer clothes and accessories.
  • Handled a trademark case in which a vintner was sued by a prominent purveyor of luxury goods due to the similarity of their trademarks.

Neighbor and Boundary Disputes

  • Handled many disputes involving antagonistic neighbors.
  • Handled many disputes involving lot line adjustments.
  • Handled many cases involving maintenance of easements and interference with easements.
  • Handled many cases involving the creation of prescriptive easements.