Hon. Patricia Yim Cowett (Ret.)


Retired Judge Patricia Cowett has been a respected and effective mediator and arbitrator with ADR Services, Inc. since 2009. She has successfully mediated hundreds of cases, many of them to full resolution, in such areas of law as employment, sexual harassment, personal injury, legal and medical malpractice, real property including condemnation, HOA and easement disputes, lemon law, consumer, maritime, utilities, business, contracts, and fee disputes. She has arbitrated cases in areas such as personal injury, medical malpractice, intellectual property, attorney’s fees and a variety of business, landlord tenant, and general contract disputes.

Judge Cowett retired from the bench in 2008 after 29 years as a Judge of the San Diego Superior and Municipal Courts. Her depth of bench experience allows her to candidly and credibly speak to the lawyers and parties about the strengths and weaknesses of their positions and what they can expect should they go to trial. She is willing to give her evaluation of the value of the case when requested to do so. She is patient, yet forceful, in hammering out issues that may stand in the way of reaching agreement. Clients especially comment on her friendly, frank, and knowledgeable demeanor. The combination of her judicial experience, intelligence, and persistence results in the fair and expeditious resolution of numerous disputes.

Judge Cowett lives and works principally in the San Diego County area and is available to conduct hearings throughout California. She has taught mediation and arbitration courses in the EU through the Center for International Legal Studies and has received training in dispute resolution from Pepperdine, Vermont College of Law, Brooklyn College of Law, and Stanford Law.

Judge Cowett is a graduate of UC Berkeley in 1969 and UC Davis Law School in 1972. She lives in Coronado and has two children and three granddaughters.

Judicial Experience

  • 1999 – 2008    Judge of the San Diego Superior Court
  • 1984 – 1985    Justice Pro Tem of the California Court of Appeal
    Fourth Appellate District, December 1984 – January 1985
  • 1979 – 1999    Judge of the Municipal Court, San Diego Judicial District


  • 1972   JD, University of California, Davis, School of Law
  • 1969   AB in Psychology, University of California, Berkeley

Legal Employment

  • 1975 – 1979    Attorney, San Diego Gas and Electric Company
    In-house civil litigation (primarily Personal Injury and Real Property)
  • 1973 – 1975    Department of Transportation
    Associate Deputy Attorney I, II, Legal Division, State of California handling                                                 litigation in the fields of Eminent Domain and Personal Injury defense
  • 1972 – 1973    San Diego City Attorney’s Office
    Deputy City Attorney, Criminal Division

Awards and Recognitions

  • Trial Judge of the Year, Consumer Attorneys of San Diego, 2008
  • Honoree, Cablevision, Cox Cable
  • Judge of the Year Award, San Diego County Bar Association Law Week 2006
  • Judicial Achievement Award, 1997, California Probation Officers Association
  • The Ethnic Minority Bar Associations of San Diego County “Phenomenal Woman Award”

Bar Associations

  • California State Bar
  • California Women Lawyers
  • Lawyers Club of San Diego
  • National Association of Pan Asian Bar Associations
  • Pan-Asian Lawyers of San Diego

Representative Cases

Personal Injury property Damage

  • Settled a trip and fall with serious injuries. The incident occurred in a grocery store where the video purportedly showed plaintiff at fault for falling as opposed to the presence of a misplaced sign serving as a tripping hazard.
  • Resolved a trip and fall involving plaintiff needing to negotiate a change in elevation of the flooring in the store premises. Significant injuries incurred.
  • Settled a property damage loss resulting in the total loss to a vehicle involved in a rear-end accident, rental costs and subrogation related expenses. Liability was contested due to speed of driver plaintiff.
  • Settled a dispute about injury occurring in the course of a consensual sexual encounter that may have evolved into a battery. Conflicting versions of the need for corrective surgery was relevant to resolution of the matter.
  • Settled an injury case involving fractures incurred while plaintiff was being treated by a physical therapist and fell from the therapy table. Defense relied on a theory of contributory negligence.
  • Mediated a claim for intentional or negligent inflection of severe emotional distress of defendant’s trespass upon plaintiff real and personal property.
  • Resolved a nerve damage claim as a result of injuries from attempting, with the assistance of store personnel, to lift and load heavy beams onto plaintiff’s vehicle’s roof rack.
  • Arbitrated a matter where the facts were in conflict as to whether plaintiff was in fact struck by defendant’s vehicle and whether it was an intentional tort.
  • Mediated a matter involving flood damage to a residential premise over two extreme weather days where it was contested the ownership of the offending drainage system.

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  • Settled an employment case that involved allegations of oral representations modifying the writing and a separate stock purchase agreement executed contemporaneously with the employment contract.
  • Mediated a matter wherein plaintiff employee claimed her employer failed to reimburse expenses, illegal wage deduction, failure to pay minimum wages, failure to pay wages of terminated or resigned employee, failure to provide itemized wage statement, unfair competition and statutory penalties.
  • Mediated a dispute involving alleged discrimination, harassment and retaliation on the basis of pregnancy, wrongful termination, and failure to provide meal and rest breaks, overtime and withholding deductions and waiting time penalties.
  • Mediated an employment dispute one side contending termination for cause based on misconduct on the basis of race, the other side contending age discrimination.
  • Settled a case wherein the employer documented subpar performance, placed employee on administrative leave and then terminated employee. Employee contested her termination alleging discrimination and retaliation.
  • Negotiated resolution in a case of sexual harassment and failure to prevent sexual harassment wherein employee was terminated she contended for failure to respond to a supervisor’s sexual advances.
  • Settled a sexual harassment claim in a case where termination was contended to be justified based on a history of complaints about poor job performance and disciplinary actions.
  • Settled a dispute concerning reasonable accommodation of disabilities and a breakdown of the interactive process. Employer’s defense was that the accommodations would pose an undue hardship on the operation of the front office of a medical facility.

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  • Settled a dispute involving default on a promissory note wherein the plaintiff lender alleged fraud and deceit of defendants as to the purpose for the loan.
  • Settled a case concerning a default in payment on a contract for tenant improvements in a commercial building that involved cost overruns greatly in excess of original estimates.
  • Settled a dispute over the enforceability of a liquidated damages clause in an employment contract with allegations of negligent or intentional misrepresentations and misappropriation of funds causing devaluation of shares of the company.
  • Settled a matter involving allegations of labor code violations, wrongful eviction, conversion and fraudulent concealment stemming from a multifaceted employment contract.
  • Settled a dispute requesting rescission of the stock purchase into a business whose complex financial dealings and viability were questionable and not as represented.
  • Settled a dispute over lease of commercial premises wherein arose problems with water intrusion damages and pest infestation resulting in moving expenses to mitigate damages and sublease issues.
  • Settled a case wherein the plaintiffs sought return of a deposit made into escrow for the purchase of real property when a loan was unable to be obtained despite due diligence.
  • Resolved a dispute involving a contract for computer services related to a travel business. Providers discontinued work after multiple occasions where the scope of the work changed and other specific demands resulted in unpaid invoices and tasks well beyond the original terms of the agreement.

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