• Associate Attorney, Law Office of Alred R. Naphan 1972-1978
  • Co-Founding Partner, Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer (1978-2000), Oakland, California, Managing Partner 1988-2000
    Tried all types of personal injury cases, employment cases, medical and hospital negligence as well as insurance bad faith.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Experience

In the past 15+ years, Mr. Ivary has mediated over 1,000 cases involving:

  • Personal Injury / Products Liability
  • Employment (wrongful termination, retaliation, age & gender discrimination)
  • Public Entity Liability, including school districts
  • Civil rights, discrimination of all types, police misconduct
  • Insurance, including arbitration of UM/UIM cases
  • ERISA, both disability claims and employer contribution liability
  • Served 12 years’ on the Northern District panel for ADA cases involving disability access, architectural barriers for all types of commercial establishments, including nationwide corporate policy for institutions such as hospitals, and also cases involving service animal access and related issues.

Served as Judge Pro Tem for the Superior Courts for three Bay Area Counties since 1989.

Mediator for the United States District Court ADR Program in the fields of Employment, Federal civil rights, Medical Malpractice, ERISA, ADA, Maritime and Federal Tort claims.

Panelist for all the Alameda County Settlement Programs (since 1985).

Panelist for the Contra Costa County Courts programs (since 1991).

Panelist for San Mateo County Courts MAP Program (since 2008).

Panelist for Santa Clara County Court


  • B.A., Saint Mary’s College of California, 1968
  • J.D., University of Santa Clara, 1971
  • Admitted to State and Federal Courts, 1972
  • Continuing Education requirements met in all fields, including Advanced Mediation Training for both State and Federal courts

Mediation Training

  • Initial training through San Mateo, Contra Costa and Alameda County court sponsored ADR Programs (MAP, EASE, SMART and TOT programs)
  • 40 Hour Intensive Mediation Training course taught by Nancy Yeend (2001)
  • 20 Hour US District Court training program
  • Multiple CLE programs on a variety of topics, as well as regular updates on specific mediation issues on interest (including confidentiality, changes in the law, etc.)

Past & Present Professional Associations

  • American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Advocate, inducted 1989
  • American Inns of Court, Wiley Manuel Chapter, Senior Mentor, 1999-2000
  • Association of Trial Lawyers of America, (Advocate, National College of Advocacy)
  • Alameda-Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association
    Board of Governors, 1975-1990
    Editor of The Verdict, 1986
    President, 1990
  • Alameda County Lawyer’s Club

Awards & Honors

  • AV Preeminent, Martindale Hubbell Rating for 30 years in a row, 1993-2023
  • Lawyer of the Year, Alameda County Lawyer’s Club, 1995.
  • Selected as Evaluator by the CEB Trial Advocacy Program.
  • State Bar Commendation for Outstanding Contributions to Pro Bono and Voluntary Legal Services.
  • Honored Listee, Marquis Who’s Who, 2024


  • The Myth of Neutrality
  • Mediating with the Difficult Plaintiff
  • Medical Malpractice Jury Instructions
  • Punitive Damages in Employment Cases
  • Invited Panelist and Speaker to Employer Groups and Panelist for Employment Law Seminars.

Mediation Approach

Experience has taught me to do what works and not get too caught up in theory or the academic side of mediation. My goal is to get the case in a position where the parties can see a clear path to settlement.

My approach varies because no two cases are alike. For example, an employment case can be very sensitive to the parties involved as can a police misconduct case or a medical malpractice case. Probably the best way to describe my approach to mediation is to be sure that the parties are dealing with their REAL case, not the one they wish they had. This often involves asking both sides questions, sometimes uncomfortable ones. (The tough questions are asked in separate sessions).

When parties request I will become very active in their negotiations. For a full explanation of my mediation style and philosophy, please download an article I wrote for the SFTLA magazine. It can be found at the ADR website ( Although originally written as a practical guide for the plaintiff’s bar, it also tells the defense how I approach mediation.

My assumption in mediation is that the parties are there to get their case settled, not just have a discussion or use the process as a discovery vehicle. I view the process as a “time out” from the litigation and an opportunity to identify the REAL case.

I work with little formality. As long as the attorneys agree, anyone can speak, not just the lawyers. I insist on civility but I am very sensitive to what the parties themselves want the process to be.

I discourage “opening statements” and oral arguments. My theory is that the briefs should adequately cover the parties’ legal positions and opening statements and arguments only reinforce entrenched positions and don’t help settle cases.

In my opinion, mediation should not resemble what we experience in court. Trial is always an option if you don’t settle your case. I don’t try to tell the defense about the “cost of defense” or tell the plaintiffs that they “might lose their case”.

Representative Cases

Business / ERISA / Other cases

  • Settled numerous cases involving retail establishments sued over alleged architectural barriers. Handicap Access compliance, Readily Achievable standard, attorneys’ fees.
  • Negotiated numerous settlements involving ERISA issues including Claims by Plan Members for denial of medical/disability benefits. Issues typically included the standard of Review, Delegation of Discretion, the Role of Trustees in determining plan benefits and the determination of offsets for Social Security and Workers Compensation. Other ERISA cases involved Actions by Trustees alleging Underfunded Contributions by Employer, Audits.
  • Real Estate Broker sued Commercial property owner for Commission after backing out of sale at the 11th hour.
  • Commercial Tenant sued for violation of non-compete clause contained in Shopping Center master lease.

Civil Rights / Law Enforcement / Public Entity / School District Liability

  • $2.5 million dollar settlement for a high school freshman who was sexually molested by her teacher for over a year. Claimed negligent supervision and failure of mandatory reporters to report incidents of questionable behavior. Damages alleged need for lifetime therapy.
  • $50K settlement for an African American attorney whom Police stopped, detained and briefly handcuffed after shots had been “reported in the area” over the radio with no specific location.
  • High 6 figure settlement for the family of an African American inmate suffocated by correctional officers when his seizures were mistaken for a threat during the booking processing.
  • 800K settlement for an 80 year old woman who was attacked in her kitchen by a Police dog allowed off-leash. Severe tissue and nerve damage to arm.
  • High 6 figure settlement for the spouse of a former gang member placed in a holding cell after exhibiting bizarre behavior at arrest. Over a 6 hour period, the Prisoner hanged himself with a makeshift rope fashioned from his shirt. Claimed he should have been put on a suicide watch. Wrongful death. Immunity issues.
  • Plaintiffs, husband and wife, claimed that the State and local Joint task force drug raid erroneously targeted their residence. Occupants claimed Warrants were defective and overbroad. Claimed damages for False arrest / wrongful detention. Emotional distress claimed. No physical injury. Low 6 figure settlement.
  • Mass Transit Police shoot a suspect on a platform after he threatened them by throwing a Bottle. Suspect carrying a knife not visible to officers. Compromise 5 figure settlement.
  • Mass Transit Police stop, pursue and arrest a passenger who ran away when ordered to stop playing loud music. Alleged excessive force. Minor injuries. Mid 5 figure settlement.
  • Disability discrimination / Civil rights claim. A 21 year old student with Autism claimed mistreatment by staff based on his disability. District claimed that such physical restraint and confinement was necessary to contain his violent behavior. Settled via Mediator’s proposal for low 6 figures.
  • Sexual abuse claimed by 2 adolesent girls who attended a private school By the time the lawsuit was filedThe school had gone out of business in a Bankruptcy proceeding. Plaintiffs each sought recovery for sexual abuse by the same teacher. The school had a dollar 6 million dollar liability insurance policy which was by then the sole asset of the bankruptcy estate. The court ruled that therefore the insurance was the sole source of recovery. Case settled after 2 sessions for 5 million dollars, each girl agreeing to take no more than the other regardless of their individual damages
  • Mass Transit Police Beat patron with a baton causing superficial bruising. Plaintiff claimed beating was for failing to follow instructions. Excessive force claimed. Mid 5 figure settlement.

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Division of Settlement Proceeds

  • Mr. Ivary has mediated many cases where there is limited insurance coverage and multiple claimants. He has mediated many cases where there is an issue as to the shares each heir in a wrongful death case is entitled to, including competing claims of spouses, children, siblings and parents. Mr. Ivary has served as both mediator and as binding arbitrator for such cases more than a hundred times.


  • 38-year veteran elementary school teacher with M.S. claimed the district failed to accommodate her disability, forcing her to retire. District disputed the claim and asserted it made every effort to accommodate her disability and engage in the interactive process. Settled for mid 6 figures plus mediation cost.
  • Mediated a withdrawal liability under ERISA. Employer agreed to pay $1.9 million for going out of business before properly funding the plan,
  • Plaintiff was employed as a highly placed management employee of a boutique industry. She claimed that her boss sexually assaulted her at a company event offsite. Employer claimed that sex was consensual. 925k settlement
  • Female clerical employee in her twenties claimed her employers gave her unwanted massages at work in her cubicle from behind her desk. Later he attempted a full body massage. She had only been employed for three months. She first began taking time off to avoid the behavior and finally left her employment voluntarily. She claimed emotional distress, no wage loss claim. (low 6 figure settlement)
  • 28 construction workers joined as Plaintiffs discrimination case alleging various theories, including Failure to hire, wrongful termination / race discrimination. Case complicated by insolvency of principal employer leaving Project owners and general contractor as Defendants. Confidential Settlement.
  • Low 6 figure settlement for an Elementary School teacher who claimed she was harassed and constructively terminated for reporting an incident of clergy abuse in her distant past.
  • Low 6 figure settlement for a Female employee terminated when her Employer perceived (incorrectly) that she was pregnant. Employer denied that was the reason, suggesting there were performance issues.
  • Confidential high 6 figure settlement for a Departing Corporate Officer who claimed he was owed an additional million dollars in compensation while the Board claimed he committed misconduct and was overpaid.
  • Low 6 figure settlement for a Female employee who claimed sexual harassment, retaliation and constructive termination. Employer asserted performance issues were cause for termination.
  • Mid 5 figure settlement for a Night shift employee of a mass Transit Employer. Plaintiff claimed he was being intentionally harassed and endangered by day shift managers and claimed Constructive termination. Employer claimed the offensive acts were committed by peers and, if they occurred at all, were trivial in nature and that he simply left on his own.
  • Settlement for male office worker who was terminated after asking to take family leave to care for his pregnant wife who was about to undergo an experimental in utero operation to fix Spina Bifida. Employer claimed the plaintiff had recent performance issues all arising after his request for leave. Plaintiff had only been on the job for 6 months. Confidential 315k settlement
  • 125k settlement for failure to pay severance after plaintiff’s employer assigned him duties in another company under its control He was terminated within year for “poor performance”

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Medical / Hospital / Pharmaceutical/ Malpractice

  • 750K settlement for the Death of a 38 year old unemployed woman due to overmedication during outpatient plastic surgery. No anesthesiologist in attendance. Surgeon fled the jurisdiction. Case settled against physician group.
  • Feeding tube placed in airway instead of stomach. Wrongful death of 63 year old woman. Confidential low 6 figure settlement.
  • Ventilation tube placed in esophagus instead of airway. Wrongful death. Limited economic losses. Mid 6 figure settlement.
  • Medication error by Compounding pharmacy not discovered by Retail Pharmacy. Damages disputed. Main issue was that the patient’s claimed adverse reaction was inconsistent with published side effects. Confidential mid 5 figure settlement.

Minor's Compromise

  • As an attorney between 1972 and 2001, Mr. Ivary filed and presented 150-200 Minor's compromises. Between 2001 – present day, he has mediated 30 or 40 cases where minor's compromises were required as part of the settlement. These ranged from personal injury, wrongful death and other injuries to minors, including sexual abuse cases, all which required court approval as part of a settlement or recommended settlement.

Personal Injury / Products Liability

  • Plaintiff, an elderly woman with advanced Alzheimer's disease who was shopping at a big box retailer with her husband, badly cut her leg when she walked into a sharp edge of a display case. She didn't realize she was bleeding profusely until it was called to her attention that there was a pool of blood on the floor. She was treated, but required successive painful debridements over several months. At the mediation of her claims, she did not appear and it was eventually admitted that she had died 6 weeks before the mediation. Despite the defense's outrage at not being told sooner, the case was, nevertheless, successfully settled.
  • Settled severe spinal injury claims against an apartment complex owner after allegedly negligent maintenance of smoke alarms led to a tenant having to jump from a second story window to escape a rapidly spreading fire.
  • Plaintiff was a tenant in Section 8 housing apartment complex that caught fire due to a tenant setting his stove on fire. Plaintiff jumped from the 2nd story after the alarm system failed and sustained a burst fracture of the lumbar spine affecting several levels. Alleged Defendant was the apartment complex. The alarm system had allegedly failed to work due to negligent maintenance.
  • Defendant driving on I5 was passing a lane closure due to construction. The plaintiff cyclists claimed that the Defendant van abruptly and without warning merged into the adjacent lane suddenly so that plaintiff who were riding with a pack of motorcycles became entangled with each other. Unable to stop the rear bike hit the front one throwing one plaintiff to the plaintiff. The 2nd plaintiff clipped his ankle on the other rider's bike. fracturing his ankle. The more serious case involved multiple fractured ribs and two fractured nondisplaced spinous processes. It was settled for $175K and the ankle fracture settled for $25K. The case was complicated by the fact there was no police reports and the witnesses' stories all conflicted with each other.
  • Whether hillside property can be developed into private residence given topography and access to street that was contended had been withdrawn from public use
  • Plaintiff employee was attacked by her employer's watchdog at work and suffered facial bites.
  • 10 million dollars confidential settlement for the wrongful death of a 50-year-old wife and mother of 6 adult children. The defendant's commercial vehicle traveling northbound vehicle veered across a double yellow line on a rural two-lane winding roadway and struck the motorcycle she was riding in the opposite direction. Her husband was following her and witnessed the collision and watched his spouse pass away in a matter of minutes. Plaintiffs were the husband and children who ranged in age from 25 to 35 and came from two different marriages. When he married the decedent, the husband, who was not the father of any of the children, had changed his own last name to match her children's last names. The decedent was said to have been much loved and central to the lives of the entire family. Husband received 4 million for all his claims including loss of household services and claim. The adult children got one million dollars each. There was no other economic loss.
  • Plaintiff was employed as a highly placed management employee of a boutique industry. Her boss allegedly sexually assaulted her at a company event offsite. Employer claimed that sex was consensual.
  • Intersection accident. Defendant had $100k Policy, case settled for 200k with $100k personal contribution by the insured.
  • A helmet-wearing bicyclist sustained back and closed head injuries after being rear-ended by a city truck. low 6 figure settlement
  • Police car ran a red light with no siren and no lights on, hit the passenger side of a car and caused the passenger multiple skeletal injuries and closed head injuries causing changes in behavior and loss of impulse control. claim for reduced future wage loss. Settled in mediation for 5 million dollars.
  • The plaintiff, a 78-year-old retired man was jogging on a high school track and was killed when a member of the school track team knocked him down from behind during a varsity practice. The coach was absent but before he left, he had authorized the practice without first clearing the track. The case settled for 545k
  • Federal case where a homeless man with serious drug problems was struck on the head by a falling pod from the upper branches of a tree located on a federal park. Federal government and tree maintenance contractor sued. Case settled for 950k
  • 325k settlement for Plaintiff tripped on decorative stones at the base of the stairs at Defendant’s vacation rental house in Lake Tahoe. skeletal fracture, Settled for policy limits of 300k.
  • Intersection collision, defendant admitted fault. Major driver side damage to plaintiff's car. Fractured rib and claimed other injury to knee. Also, claimed PTSD. defendant had $100K policy. The case settled for $200K with $100K contribution by the insured.
  • 350K settlement for a High School student’s mother who tripped and fell on outdoor makeshift steps while attending daughter’s tennis match. The fall resulted in disfiguring facial injuries.
  • Confidential low 6 figure settlement for a Plaintiff who accidentally cut off 2 fingertips while using a table saw for a home improvement project. Plaintiff claimed the saw was defective because, although it came with a safety guard, the guard was removable and he had removed it. Claimed safer available technology.
  • 5 figure compromise settlement for Intersection accident where both vehicles had a stop sign. Case resolved by discussion of physical evidence. No witnesses. Multiple skeletal injuries.
  • Low 7 figure settlement for a Seaman who suffered disabling back injuries after slipping and falling in a walk-in freezer aboard ship. Maritime law issues.
  • Confidential 7 figure settlement for the family of a Dockworker crushed by container during unloading of vessel. Wrongful death claim. Longshoreman and Harbor Workers’ Act.
  • High 6 figure settlement for a Personal injury and 2 wage and hour cases brought on behalf of three Tree Service workers. Employer had failed to procure Workers’ Comp coverage. Settlement included both cash and medical coverage to be purchased by Employer.
  • Severe dog bite to a six month old infant necessitating facial surgery. Dog ownership was disputed. Both the purported dog owner and the kennel where he was kept contributed equally to a 1.25 million dollar settlement.
  • Plaintiff maintenance mechanic injured when the Gantry crane collapsed on her while she was using it to work on heavy machine parts, rendering her a paraplegic. Case settled with the Comp carrier paying 3 million dollars and waiving its lien. The self-insured crane manufacturer contributed 8 million dollars for a total settlement of 11 million dollars
  • $6 million settlement. Wrongful Death for spouse and children of decedent in his fifties making over $100 K / year. Decedent was walking home from a party when he was struck and killed by a drunk driver. Plaintiffs claimed the City was on notice from neighborhood complaints about excessive vehicle speeds. Claimed improper road modifications, road design , lack of sidewalk, unsafe lighting and absent traffic controls. City claimed immunities . City paid $5.650 million and drunk driver's insurance paid $300K and driver contributed $50 K.
  • 325k settlement for a pedestrian who was hit after falling down in a crosswalk. 2 defendants were sued. One defendant was the driver who hit him and the other was the driver of a car who nearly hit him first, causing him to fall.
  • Plaintiff roofer got into an altercation with a fellow worker who was employed by the owner of the house. Each worker blamed the other for the fight and there was a dispute about how the plaintiff came to fall off the roof. Plaintiff claimed he was shoved. Major coverage dispute with defendant owner’s carrier denying coverage due to a business exclusion. Plaintiff’s main injury was a fractured wrist which he claimed prevented him for working as a roofer. After 2 sessions the case settled for 750k inclusive of a 90k comp lien. The carrier denying coverage paid 200k toward settlement

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Eric Ivary is a fantastic neutral and always works very hard to get cases settled. He is prepared and knows how to engage both sides in a productive way to push the case toward resolution.”

“I have utilized Eric Ivary’s mediation services on a several cases. He has been a valuable asset to the mediation process. He works diligently with both sides to get cases resolved and, most importantly, he does not give up. His preparation and continued persistence are key distinguishing attributes that help him resolve very difficult cases. Mr. Ivary is respected by both defense and plaintiffs’ attorneys because we all respect his experience, drive and persistence.”

“Eric is quite collegial compared to some other mediators. He tries to get people to agree rather than coerce them. I admire his light hand.”

“Eric’s approach is effective. His style is more one of keeping a low-key, lighthearted, coaxing atmosphere in the proceedings. It’s more coaxing than bludgeoning. He usually has no shortage of war stories that are interesting. That actually helps facilitate the process.”

“If Eric wants to suggest how a case might resolve, he’ll do so by describing similar cases he’s handled and how those turned out. He will say, ‘In my experience, x-y-z,’ … pointing out what’s wrong with your case to you and what’s wrong with their case to other side.

“Frankly, I was grateful that Eric was quickly able to cut to the chase, and it was apparent to me that he accurately read the respective rooms (ours included), and that he did not put us in a position that wasted our time or our client’s emotional capacity. He also did substantial preliminary phone calls and prep work with each side before we ever set foot in the room. I found his approach on the day to be creative, refreshing, and effective.”

“I have always found Eric Ivary to be an astute, straight-shooting neutral. This is why we chose him for this and prior cases. He understands the issues, he does the work, he accurately digests the information he is provided, he lucidly reads between the lines, and he is critically aware of the players’ stakes in the matter – as well as the responsibilities of the decision-makers in the room. He does not pull punches and I can count on him to see the pluses and minuses of the case, as well as to be frank about them. As a result, he is a trustworthy, creative, knowledgeable and effective mediator. He breaks the case down to its brass tacks, and he does not force parties or their counsel to waste time in what are obviously fruitless negotiations. He respects everybody’s time and effort. Where appropriate, he is candid and encouraging with the parties when they need to further develop their cases to effect resolution or to cut their losses. In my experience, he sticks with the case for months or more afterwards in a consistent effort to keep track of where the case is going and how and/or if the parties are evolving towards resolution. Every case that Eric has mediated for our office has resolved – maybe not always on the day of mediation, but always as a result of his tenacity with the parties and counsel. He has resolved cases that we never thought would settle, and that success rate is a product of his experience, knowledge, and tenacity.”

“Eric accurately reads the room, he takes good measure of the parties and counsel, and most importantly – he doesn’t gratuitously waste anyone’s time. We won’t hesitate to continue choosing him to mediate our cases.”