Arnold R. Levinson Esq. draws on nearly four decades as one of San Francisco’s leading trial attorneys to amicably mediate and arbitrate a broad assortment of highly complex cases, often achieving what attorneys have described as “the insurmountable.” His approach to resolving disputes emphasizes his extensive preparation and his keen ability to listen to each party.

As a trial lawyer, Mr. Levinson was a strong proponent of settlement, assisting over 1,000 clients in resolving their cases. He started his career working for a large insurance defense firm in San Francisco before launching his own practice in 1979. His firm grew quickly, handling real estate, commercial, insurance, and employment cases as well as a variety of other complex litigation.

In 1992, Mr. Levinson co-founded Pillsbury & Levinson and focused his practice primarily on representing policyholders in disputes against insurance companies. His firm rapidly gained national recognition as one of the nation’s top insurance firms. He has broad and extensive trial experience, serving as President of the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association and as a member of the statewide Task Force developing the CACI jury instructions. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

Available statewide, Mr. Levinson’s reach as a neutral extends far beyond his expertise in insurance coverage and bad faith. He has handled a wide-variety of cases inclusive of complex business/commercial and real estate, employment disputes, and personal injury and medical malpractice claims.

Areas of Expertise

  • Insurance
    • Bad Faith
    • Coverage
    • ERISA
  • Personal Injury
  • Legal Malpractice
  • Real Estate
  • Business / Commercial
  • Employment

Legal Experience

  • 2014 – 2016 Full Time Mediator, Levinson Mediation
  • 2013 – Present Settlement Conference Officer, San Francisco Superior Court
  • 1992 – 2014 Founding Partner, Pillsbury & Levinson
  • 1985 – 1989 Judge Pro Tem, San Francisco Superior Court
  • 1982 – 1991 Founding Partner, Giffinger, Levinson, Freed & Heinemann
  • 1979 – 1981 Founding Partner, Gutierrez, Griffinger & Levinson
  • 1975 – 1979 Associate, Petit, Evers & Martin


  • 2014 Intensive Mediation Training Program, Rosenberg School of Dispute Resolution
  • 1975 J.D., Georgetown University Law Center
  • 1972 B.A., Cum Laude, University of Washington

Professional Affiliations

  • Past President, San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association
  • Member, American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA)
  • Past Member, Board of Governors, Consumer Attorneys of California
  • Member, Task Force on New Civil Jury Instruction
  • Past Chair, Insurance Bad Faith Section, American Association for Justice

Achievements & Awards

  • Three time recipient of the Presidential Award of Merit from the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC).
  • Along with his fellow CAOC board members, Mr. Levinson helped draft and was actively involved in passing an amendment to section 437c of California’s Code of Civil Procedure regarding summary judgments.
  • Frequent guest lecturer on insurance bad faith matters throughout the country. Published numerous articles on insurance related matters in a wide variety of publications.
  • Recognized commentator/editor on insurance cases for 25+ years in the Continuing Education of the Bar Civil Litigation Reporter, published by the University of California (1987-2005)
  • Trial Lawyer of the Year Nominee, San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association.

Representative Cases

Business and Commercial

  • Claims and cross-claims between former and current business owners disputing responsibility for business liabilities.
  • Claims of substantial damages by parties who had separate businesses arising out of the alleged abuse of shared assets.
  • Multi-million dollar claims between and among a national organic food company, one of its suppliers, and their insurers arising out of potentially contaminated food that was integrated into the food company’s products and distributed to a variety of customers.
  • Multi-million-dollar claims of damages caused to distributors and retailers arising out of the sale of uninspected and adulterated meat, which was then incorporated into tacos, burritos and similar food products.
  • Shareholder dispute between major shareholders of a failed telecom technology company.
  • Claim by community bank for multi-million-dollar claims against Bonding Company arising out of loans that defaulting because of dishonest actions of a former employee. The Bonding company claimed that no payment was due because of the bank’s prior knowledge of the employee’s activities.
  • Class Action based on claim of deceptive, unfair and false merchandising practices in the sale of millions of square feet of synthetic turf.
  • Class Action claim based on the state’s Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Debt Buying Practices Act against arising allegedly improper debt collection claims.
  • Defamation claim alleged to have been made on the internet about Attorneys by a disgruntled former client. Client claimed that there was no evidence that he was the perpetrator. Plaintiffs claimed that there was strong circumstantial evidence.

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Class Action

  • Mutually selected by all parties and appointed as an arbitrator in a wage and hour class action case alleging that an employer improperly permitted its employees to receive wages from a cash machine through which the employer received fees.
  • Handled employment class action involving a nationwide company which was alleged to have deliberately created an empty ERISA plan for purposes of avoiding state law mandating accrual of vacation time. The eventual settlement was the largest in the company’s history.


  • Owner of uniquely designed home claimed complex construction defect because of water intrusion. Claim involved multiple contractors, insurance companies and insurance issues.
  • Numerous cases involving construction site accidents, claims by injured parties against subcontractors, contractors, owners and related cross complaints.

Disaster Relief

  • Mediated a case arising from the Santa Rosa fire, wherein the homeowners claimed their insurer was negligent and acted in bad faith resulting in substantial underinsurance of home and contents valued at nearly $10 million.
  • Mediated complex Santa Rosa fire claim involving multiple insurers, excess insurers and defendants. Plaintiffs alleged that the brake failure of a vehicle removing fire debris resulted in wrongful death and serious injuries in multiple vehicles.
  • Handled case involving allegations of massive underinsurance and bad faith claims brought by an elderly resident of the Oakland firestorm whose home and contents were entirely destroyed in the fire.
  • Complex multi-party claim of elder abuse wherein residents with dementia and other significant disabilities were claimed to have been left helpless in a residential care facility without adequate evacuation procedures or practices as the Santa Rosa fire bore down on and eventually consumed the entire facility.


  • Employment case alleging racial and religious discrimination by a longtime employee against a public entity. He claimed that he was passed up for a significant promotion due to his religious and ethnic status.
  • Claims by an illegal immigrant that the defendant employer falsely promised to employ him but then refused to hire him believing that the employer was immune from suit because of the employee's immigration status. Multiple age discrimination claims made by longtime employees who were allegedly eased out of positions or fired in order to replace them with a younger workers.
  • Numerous claims of unlawful wage and hour practices made by multiple workers at a variety of businesses. These claims included failure to maintain proper records, failure to pay overtime, payment of wages in cash, failure to provide breaks and similar claims.
  • Claim by highly regarded chef at a prominent parochial school who alleged that he was repeatedly harassed and ultimately terminated only when he began complaining that the practices of the school were in violation of food and safety standards.
  • Claims by former employee that the employer and its personnel wrongfully accused him of threatening to kill other employees and failed to conduct a fair or adequate investigation.
  • Alleged wrongful termination of a CEO accused of mismanaging a technology company. The CEO claimed that his actions were severely hampered by the Board of Directors, which resulted in the loss of an extremely lucrative business.
  • Wrongful termination/whistleblower action arising out of claim that the Plaintiff was terminated for reporting false sales activities similar to the widely-reported Wells Fargo activities.
  • Race and gender discrimination as well as retaliation claims made against a university arising out of the Plaintiffs claim that she was improperly denied tenure.

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  • Plaintiff claimed disability benefits from severe and debilitating damage to coccyx from fall off ladder.
  • Bad Faith claim arising out of storm damage to commercial building.
  • Plaintiff claimed disability benefits under ERISA due to severe and debilitating damage to coccyx from a fall of a ladder.
  • Multiple seven figure insurance coverage and defense claims arising out of a 20- year public construction project, which was claimed to have improperly damaged private property.
  • Plaintiff, a deputy clerk for a California city, claimed she was disabled by fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome and thereby entitled to long-term disability benefits under the terms of her insurance policy. The insurance company claimed that her benefits were based on psychological claims and, as such limited under the policy's mental/nervous disorder provision.
  • The insured claimed that permanent brain damage resulting from long term alcohol use disabled him from his law enforcement duties. The insurance company denied benefits claiming that he did not become disabled during the term of its policy. Plaintiff made claims for long term disability benefits and insurance bad faith.
  • Insurance company denied claims for millions of dollars in property damages, claiming that the items damaged were not covered property. The plaintiff's business sued the insurance company for insurance bad faith and related claims.
  • The insured's home was damaged by the release of a large volume of water from their uphill neighbor. The homeowners claimed and the insurance company denied that the entire foundation of their home was damaged.
  • Heirs of deceased sued the insurance company for insurance bad faith after discovering, many years after their father's death, that the insurance company may have issued much more coverage than the insurance company claimed was in place at the time of death.
  • Claim by ex-college football player against insurer arising out of a disability and loss of value policy the purpose of which was claimed to be to provide financial protection to the player in the event an injury prevented his ability to play in the NFL.
  • Multiple claims of excess verdict exposure arising out of the insurers’ alleged failure to timely accept policy limit demands. These claims have ranged from low five figures to 8 figures.
  • Disability insurance company denied the claim of a technical representative of a medical device maker who claimed that a back condition made her unable to perform her occupation. All claims and defenses were made under ERISA.
  • Claims of bad faith and punitive damages arising out of the alleged failure to provide replacement cost reimbursement for fire damages to a commercial building.
  • Property insurance claims arising out of damage to a commercial brewing facility.
  • Claim by community bank for multi-million-dollar claims against a bonding company, which arise out of loans that defaulted because of dishonest actions of a former employee. The bonding company claimed that no payment was due because the bank had prior knowledge of the employee’s activities.
  • Plaintiff claimed disability caused by extensive back, neck, psychiatric and fibromyalgia issues. Defendant claimed that Plaintiff had no problem working until her business was shut down by government regulators.
  • Executive of major insurance company claimed disability due to spinal deformities. Defendant claimed ERISA applied. Plaintiff alleges that he can escape ERISA with sufficient allegations of intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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Legal Malpractice

  • Served as court-appointed Discovery Referee and later mediated claims against a legal malpractice specialist, who allegedly provided inadequate advice to other attorneys involved in multiple qui tam actions. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant's advice, and later conflicts of interest, caused the loss of legal fees well into eight figures.

Personal Injury

  • Plaintiff was training to be a Cirque du Soleil type performer when the straps he was practicing on broke, rendering him a quadriplegic. Plaintiff brought a products liability and negligence claim against the manufacturer, distributor, and training facility.”
  • Sexual Abuse/battery claim against school district.
  • Due to a sidewalk defect, Plaintiff tripped and fell, experiencing a severely broken elbow.
  • Traumatic brain injury claims resulting from the claimed explosion of an oven, which Plaintiffs contended was the result of faulty work by the plumbing company when replacing gas lines outside a major hotel.
  • Allegedly intoxicated pedestrian alleged to have suffered paraplegia and traumatic brain injury as a result of the negligence of taxi driver and ride sharing company. Claims included evolving contentions over the alleged employee status of ride sharing drivers.
  • Multiple competing claims, including traumatic brain injury claims from passengers and drivers arising out of a traffic collision between a taxi and limousine.
  • Premises liability claims for personal injury including traumatic brain injury against the owner of a large office complex and its maintenance company arising out a heavy pole crashing on Plaintiff's head.
  • A driver trying to move his car, caused it to surge in a parking lot seriously injuring the Plaintiff. Plaintiff made premises liability claims against the school district alleging that the parking lot was overcrowded and without supervision and, as such, was a dangerous condition.
  • Wrongful death case involving competing claims of murder and suicide among three high school boys. Very complex insurance coverage issues involving multiple attorneys.
  • An elderly man purchased a medically underwritten annuity. He paid a large lump sum in return for the promise of monthly payments for the rest of his life. He died a few months later creating a large windfall for the insurance company. The heirs of the deceased insured sued his life insurer and its agent claiming insurance bad faith and financial elder abuse.
  • Claims were made against a very prominent ophthalmologist for failing to diagnose a condition resulting in a detached retina and blindness in one of the Plaintiff's eyes. Despite facing real exposure, the doctor steadfastly refused to consent to settlement, thereby frustrating any attempt by the insurer and the Plaintiff to resolve the case. During mediation, the physician finally agreed to consent and the case was resolved.
  • Plaintiffs made a claim of wrongful birth alleging that the treating doctors and hospitals failed to detect pre-natal birth defects in the fetus of their daughter. They claimed that their daughter required multiple surgeries when the doctors and hospital failed to detect a congenital heart defect before their daughter was born.

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Personal Injury / Auto

  • Plaintiff brought suit against major auto manufacturer claiming catastrophic injuries and alleging seatbelt failure. Plaintiff suffered catastrophic injuries including major brain trauma from an auto roll over where the plaintiff was ejected from the vehicle.
  • Catastrophic injuries resulting from a motorcycle/multiple car collision on a local freeway.
  • A car accident involving a poorly designed guardrail, which resulted in the death of a 21-year-old when a piece of the guardrail penetrated the front window of the car. Accompanying emotional distress claims were made by other family members involving multiple municipal and insurance agencies. Plaintiff claimed that the guardrail was erected without any safety considerations. Defendant claimed that the Plaintiff fell asleep.
  • Wrongful death and related emotional distress claims when a trailer disconnected from a truck and crashed into a car, killing the father of young children.
  • Wrongful death claim arising out of a multi-car freeway accident when a car drove off the road killing one of the occupants.
  • A tree trimming company dropped a large limb on a worker’s head causing severe traumatic brain damage. Issues involved questions of worker/independent contract and insurance coverage.
  • Bicycle/car accident arising out of bicyclists’ claim that the driver of the car cut in front of him in an attempt to obtain a parking spot on the other side of the road. Defendant claimed that the bicyclist was intoxicated and inattentive.
  • Serious facial injuries caused when a bicyclist collided with a truck. Plaintiff claimed that the truck attempted to sneak through a crowd of pedestrians during the morning rush hour. Defendant claimed that the bicyclist was speeding and inattentive.
  • Multiple serious injuries resulted when a deck collapsed, dropping all of the occupants of the deck to the ground below. Notice, insurance and damage issues were all contested.

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Premises Liability & Products Liability

  • Plaintiff was training to be a Cirque du Soleil-type performer when the straps he was practicing on broke, rendering him a quadriplegic. Plaintiff brought a products liability and negligence claim against the manufacturer, distributor, and training facility.
  • Premises liability claim alleging that residents, including an infant boy, became extremely ill and developed seizures after exposure to mold.
  • Premises liability claim alleging that all residents of the household became ill and a young baby suffered brain damage arising out of toxic mold found in the building.
  • Dispute regarding claims that the Plaintiffs suffered carbon monoxide poisoning arising out of the faulty maintenance and installation of a boiler.

Real Estate

  • Dispute between purchasers and buyers of valuable real estate and business located on the property in the middle of an exploding real estate market. Dispute centered on the good faith of the parties, financing of the sale and the value of and right to exercise an option on the property.
  • Resolution of a multitude of lawsuits, between large groups of low income tenants and the owners, and between the owners and various governmental agencies involving the owners' desire to change the use of a building located in an area rapidly developing as a center of the tech industry.
  • Claim of wrongful eviction damages and attorneys’ fees by tenant locked out of his unit while his partner lay dying in the hospital.
  • Premises liability claim alleging that residents, including an infant boy became extremely ill and developed seizures after exposure to mold.
  • Premises liability claim alleging that all residents of the household became ill and young baby suffered brain damage arising out of toxic mold found in the building.
  • Dispute regarding claims that the Plaintiffs suffered carbon monoxide poisoning arising out of the faulty maintenance and installation of a boiler.
  • Commercial tenant made claims of damages due to a large water leak at a major class A commercial building in San Francisco.

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