Hon. Margaret L. Oldendorf (Ret.)


Hon. Margaret L. Oldendorf (Ret.) joined ADR Services, Inc. in 2024 after nearly 20 years as a Judge of the Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles. During the last nine years of her judicial career, she presided over a Civil Independent Calendar Court and a Civil Trial Court in Pasadena, overseeing numerous jury and court trials. Throughout her tenure on the bench, Judge Oldendorf presided over a wide array of cases, demonstrating her versatility and proficiency in various areas of the law. From complex business and contract litigation to construction matters, personal injury, medical malpractice, and real property, she has tackled some of the most challenging legal issues with efficiency and impartiality.

Judge Oldendorf’s contributions to the legal community have garnered widespread recognition. She is the recipient of prestigious honors such as the Judicial Civility Award from the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) in 2018 and the Trial Judge of the Year award bestowed by the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA) in 2019.

Prior to her appointment to the bench, Judge Oldendorf practiced civil litigation for over 20 years. Beginning her career at Liebert, Cassidy & Frierson, she developed her skills in labor and employment law, serving cities, counties, community college districts, and K-12 school districts across California. She then joined Adams, Duque, & Hazeltine, where she specialized in representing public agencies in employment litigation as well as First Amendment and other constitutional issues. Her practice expanded to encompass real estate, commercial litigation, business torts, and trust matters. In her final nine years before being appointed to the bench, she served as Staff Counsel and Senior Staff Counsel for the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association, diligently representing public pension plans and handling all aspects of civil litigation pending in state and federal courts.

Beyond the courtroom, Judge Oldendorf is a strong advocate of legal education and outreach. She has shared her wealth of knowledge and experience through teaching engagements for bench officers on trial practice, jury selection and management, special issues in personal injury cases, and related issues. She has also participated in panels and made presentations to esteemed legal and bar associations on trial practice, judicial perspectives on trial and discovery, and similar topics.


  • Asbestos Litigation
  • Breach of Fiduciary Duty
  • Business/Contract
  • Catastrophic Injury
  • Construction Disputes
  • Defamation/Invasion of Privacy
  • Easements/Neighbor Disputes
  • Intentional Torts
  • Landlord/Tenant
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Nuisance
  • Partition
  • Personal Injury
  • Premises Liability
  • Real Property
  • Receiverships
  • Trade Secrets
  • Wrongful Death


  • Trial Judge of the Year, Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, 2019
  • Judicial Civility Award, American Board of Trial Advocates, Los Angeles Chapter, 2018


Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court   2005-2024

  • Civil Independent Calendar Court, Pasadena, 2022-2024
  • Civil Trial Court, Pasadena, 2015-2022
  • Felony Arraignments/Misdemeanor Trials, Glendale, 2014-2015
  • Misdemeanor Trials, Burbank, 2011-2014
  • Civil Unlimited Jurisdiction Court, Chatsworth, 2006-2010
  • Civil Limited Jurisdiction Court, Chatsworth, 2006
  • Misdemeanor Trials, Santa Clarita, 2005


Los Angeles Employees Retirement Association, Pasadena   1996-2005
Represented public pension plan in all aspects of civil litigation pending in state and federal courts. Legal advisor to Human Relations and Executive Divisions.

  • Senior Staff Counsel, 1997-2005
  • Staff Counsel, 1996-1997

Bannan, Green, Smith, Frank & Rimac, Los Angeles   1996
Represented private businesses and insurance companies in areas of business litigation in both state and federal courts.

Adams, Duque & Hazeltine, Los Angeles   1987-1996
Represented public agencies in civil litigation in the employment context, as well as First Amendment and other constitutional issues. Litigation in other areas included real estate, commercial litigation, business torts, trusts, and land use.

  • Partner, 1993-1996
  • Hiring Partner, 1994-1996
  • Associate, 1987-1993

Liebert, Cassidy & Frierson, Los Angeles   1983-1987
Principal practice areas involved labor and employment matters for cities and counties, community college districts, and K-12 school districts throughout California.

  • Associate, 1984-1987
  • Law Clerk, 1983-1984


  • Mediating the Litigated Case, Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution 2020
  • J.D., Loyola Law School, Los Angeles 1984
  • B.A. in Liberal Studies, California State University, Fullerton 1981


  • Steering Committee, Loyola Law School Civil Justice Program, 2006-Present
  • California Judges Association, 2005-Present
  • Los Angeles Superior Court Judges’ Association, 2005-Present
  • Cowboy Lawyers Association, 1998-Present


Judge Oldendorf has taught numerous courses for bench officers on trial practice, jury selection and management, special issues in personal injury cases, and related issues for the Judicial Council of California Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER), and the Los Angeles Superior Court Judicial Education Seminars (JES). Additionally, she has participated in panels and delivered presentations to numerous legal and bar associations covering a range of topics including trial practice, judicial perspectives on trial and discovery, trial objections, and other pertinent legal issues.

Representative Cases

Business / Contract / Trade Secrets / Breach of Fiduciary Duty

  • Action by private utility installer against a municipality involving claims of breach of contract and violation of the California Public Contracting Code and “Greenbook” standards. The installer bid on a project for the underground installation of a large conduit system and encountered unexpected soil conditions that delayed the project and increased costs. The municipality denied the installer’s claim for increased payment.
  • Action for breach of fiduciary duty and injunction by a client against his former attorney. The attorney allegedly improperly represented a party opponent in litigation against the client and had access to confidential information that could be used against the client’s interests.
  • Dispute between film distributor, creative works developer, and international media company regarding the international distribution rights to the sequel to an action/adventure film.
  • Contract dispute between nationwide gasoline supplier and owner of franchise gas station regarding franchisee’s right to stop using supplier’s gasoline, and “rebrand” the station.
  • Action by trucking company against former employees and third parties for alleged misappropriation of trade secrets and client lists in order to start a competing business.
  • Dispute between large provider of contract attorney services and a former attorney/employee, who left to join a competitor. Case involved difficult issues regarding scope and enforceability of covenants not to compete, and not to use confidential customer information.

view all

Construction / Nuisance / Receiverships

  • Complex construction defect case involving a project to build a new wing of a psychiatric hospital. Problems and delays arose, and the hospital terminated the general contractor. The underlying dispute generated numerous claims and cross-claims involving the general, the various subcontractors, the bank and bonding company, etc.
  • Receivership proceeding initiated by a municipality to compel rehabilitation and, ultimately, supervised sale of an abandoned residence that had become a nuisance. Disputes arose between the municipality and the mortgagor regarding the distribution of surplus funds.
  • Complicated construction defect case involving renovation of a custom home. Heavy rains caused water intrusion into an allegedly defectively constructed building envelope. Mold developed, and remediation efforts by other contractors allegedly exacerbated the problems. Numerous contractors and subcontractors became parties; and a Case Management Order was required.
  • Public nuisance action by municipality against the heirs of owner of a residence who had been living in “hoarding” conditions. A receiver was appointed, and the property was ordered sold at auction.

Defamation / Invasion of Privacy / Intentional Torts

  • Action for defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress brought by attorneys who represented landlords in eviction cases, against an attorney who ran a law office that primarily represented tenants. Defendant attorney allegedly caused one of his agents to create a “fake” Twitter account that was purportedly authored by the principal plaintiff and which contained offensive, misogynistic, and other defamatory posts. Case was extremely contentious. It also involved critical questions regarding vicarious liability, and affirmative defenses such as opinion and “parody” in a defamation context.
  • Action for assault and battery by a woman who alleged she was beaten with a flashlight by the apartment manager of a building where she was visiting a friend. The case had to be tried twice: a mistrial was declared after the first trial was just about to go to the jury, because the Covid pandemic shut down the courthouse.
  • Action for invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and related claims brought by a couple who were leasing a room from the defendant homeowners. Defendants’ son allegedly installed hidden cameras in ventilation units in the bedroom and bathroom when he performed renovation work for his parents. Issues included whether the parents were vicariously liable for the adult son’s conduct.
  • Action for fraud, breach of contract, and judicial foreclosure brought by parishioner against his pastor and others. The pastor persuaded the parishioner to loan $500,000 to the church, which loan was purportedly secured by deeds of trust on two properties. The loan was never repaid; and the pastor allegedly used the funds for personal expenses. The case included a related cross-action for negligent and intentional misrepresentation; as well as a consolidated action for indemnity brought by a realty company against its former real estate agent, who allegedly helped draft the note and deeds of trust.
  • Numerous delayed-accrual sexual assault cases involving churches, school districts, community organizations, and also one well-known popular singer.


    • Dispute between commercial landlord and tenant who was operating a biomedical engineering business. Heavy rains caused the premises to be rendered unsanitary. Questions included whether the tenant could fight an eviction effort by asserting a defense relating to a covenant by the landlord to provide tenantable premises.
    • Residential unlawful detainer action involving a claim by the landlord that the tenant defendants breached the “occupancy limit” of the lease agreement. Defenses included equitable estoppel, and the “just cause” and retaliatory eviction provisions of the applicable local rent control ordinance.
    • Personal injury and breach of implied warranty of habitability action by tenant of luxury apartment building where rains caused water intrusion and mold growth. Plaintiff allegedly developed serious health problems from the mold.
    • Dispute involving the enforceability of an option to purchase commercial premises leased by operators of a children’s learning supply store. Lessees took steps to enforce the option, including opening an escrow and drafting a purchase and sale agreement. They sued for specific performance and other claims when the landlord refused to proceed with the transaction. The landlord filed a cross-complaint for declaratory relief.

    Medical Malpractice

    • Medical malpractice action brought by a man who was misdiagnosed with an inoperable form of pancreatic cancer, when in fact he had a more operable form of the disease. He alleged that he could have had surgery while the disease was still treatable, and that he instead underwent difficult and ineffective chemotherapy. He sued the physician and medical facility where he was treated, as well as the pathologist who mis-identified the form of cancer.
    • Medical malpractice case brought by a young man who developed “compartment syndrome” from an allegedly incorrectly set and casted broken forearm. Plaintiff claimed the defendant physician’s assistant and supervising emergency room physician failed to identify the developing condition upon his later visit to the emergency room, days after the arm was originally placed in the cast.
    • Medical malpractice action initiated by a man who alleged he was incorrectly diagnosed with prostatitis for over two years, when in fact he had developed prostate cancer. Plaintiff alleged that he was forced to undergo difficult treatment for advanced cancer. He ultimately succumbed to the disease while the case was pending, and his surviving spouse continued to prosecute the case through trial.

    Personal Injury / Premises Liability

    • An eight-year-old girl who attended a friend’s birthday party in the courtyard of an apartment complex accidentally kicked a can of sterno that was placed on the ground. She sustained serious burns to her legs and pubic area. Her guardian ad litem sued the apartment owner/manager, alleging that he negligently failed to impose and enforce safety rules.
    • Action by an Uber driver who was hit in a “T-bone” collision when the defendant driver failed to stop at a stop sign. The victim, who allegedly sustained a traumatic brain injury, also sued the city where the accident occurred for failure to maintain a parkway tree that was blocking the sign. The Uber driver’s wife also brought also brought a claim for loss of consortium.
    • Personal injury action by a wheelchair-bound traveler at LAX who was left alone while her attendant went to retrieve her luggage; the traveler subsequently fell while attempting to stand on her own. Issues included whether the wheelchair services provider was a “common carrier,” and therefore subject to the “utmost care” standard set forth in California Civil Code Section 2100.
    • Negligence claim by an automobile driver who was rear-ended. Unusual questions were raised as to whether the plaintiff suffered a “nerve-stretch” injury, requiring the implantation of a spinal cord stimulator.
    • Premises liability action by a personal assistant to a well-known singer who was a judge on “the Voice” television competition. The assistant suffered a complicated ankle fracture while walking down the staircase of a temporary trailer located at the filming site.
    • Three-car collision at the 91 and 605 freeway transition. Plaintiff allegedly suffered serious back injuries. Issues arose regarding sub rosa surveillance video of the plaintiff. A 402 hearing was necessary to confirm that the surveillance film had not been sped up or otherwise altered.
    • Personal injury action brought by a man who sustained low back and other injuries when he was leaving a restaurant, and the valet retrieved his car (a restored 1966 Mustang fastback). The valet allegedly failed to correctly set the hand brake, causing the car to roll backwards and injure the plaintiff. The case was tried to a jury, and a verdict was reached. A new trial had to be ordered, because one of the jurors impermissibly shared his own personal opinions and experiences regarding automobile brakes with the other members of the jury.
    • Numerous other jury and court trials involving automobile accidents and premises liability; with both admitted and disputed liability.

    view all

    Real Property / Partition / Easements / Neighbor Disputes

    • Quiet title action for, inter alia, imposition of an equitable lien by mortgage company trustee against residential property owner who applied to refinance her existing mortgage, but failed to disclose that she had simultaneously applied for a second deed of trust that ended up being recorded in first position (a practice referred to colloquially as “slamming”).
    • Quiet title action for prescriptive and equitable easement to a portion of an unmarked driveway. Defendant/adjacent landowner filed a cross-complaint for trespass. Case was complicated by the presence of a portion of an existing garage that encroached on the defendant’s property, which could not feasibly be moved or demolished.
    • Action for partition by sale filed by the wife of her deceased husband against his heirs. Plaintiff and her husband acquired the property as joint tenants before they were married. After they married, the husband purported to transfer his share to his children from another marriage.
    • Action by property owner against adjoining neighbor and arborist company for trespass and wrongful cutting of trees. Plaintiff was in and out of pro per status. Case involved significant law and motion practice, including several motions for summary judgment.

    Wrongful Death / Catastrophic Injury / Asbestos

    • A bicycle rider riding on Foothill Boulevard in Sunland was hit from behind by a car and killed. His survivors sued the driver of the car, as well as the City of Los Angeles, for wrongful death, alleging negligence and dangerous condition of public property.
    • Action by lifelong user of Baby Powder and Shower to Shower cosmetic talc against manufacturer/distributer Johnson & Johnson for negligence and strict liability. Plaintiff had developed mesothelioma; and she alleged that the products she used contained asbestos. The case originally included numerous defendants. Trial included numerous experts, and significant evidentiary and causation issues. The proceedings were broadcast on closed circuit television.
    • Personal injury action brought by a housekeeper who was working at an unfamiliar location, and was directed to retrieve a broom from a closet. The closet had an unmarked opening into the basement, and the plaintiff fell head first down a steep ladder, sustaining severe injuries. The case included issues regarding joint liability and causation, and the applicability of offsets by a settling party.
    • Wrongful death case brought by the mother of a young woman who had been in and out of drug treatment facilities and sober living arrangements, but who ultimately died from a heroin overdose at one of the locations. The mother sued a well-known “interventionist” that she had hired, as well as others, for negligence and related claims. The case involved numerous challenging trial issues, including significant questions regarding causation.
    • Wrongful death and related negligence case involving a fatal arson fire at an unpermitted recording studio in the San Fernando Valley. The man who started the fire had an altercation with two artists who used the studio; he purchased gasoline at a nearby station and went back and started the fire. The case involved several plaintiffs and defendants and multiple motions for summary judgment, with complicated causation issues.
    • Wrongful death action by survivors of a woman who was struck and killed by a car while crossing the street. Defendants included the elderly driver, the registered owner of the vehicle, and the municipality where the accident occurred. The defendant city allegedly failed to take steps to protect pedestrians at the subject intersection.
    • Wrongful death action by survivors of a man who worked at the Goodyear tire manufacturing facility for years, and who developed mesothelioma. Plaintiffs alleged that the industrial talc he used to aid in the handling of the warm rubber contained asbestos. Case involved difficult proof issues because of the passing of the worker, and the intervening years.
    • Personal injury action brought by an aspiring actress with cheerleading experience who participated without pay in a commercially produced promotional video. Plaintiff was asked by the director and choreographer to participate as the “flyer” in a stunt. She was dropped by the choreographer, sustaining a catastrophic “shatter” type fracture of the radius of her dominant arm. The case involved significant issues regarding duty, and application of the assumption of the risk doctrine.
    • Wrongful death action by surviving spouse against national provider of tow truck services. Tow truck driver attempted to illegally pass a vehicle in the High Desert, striking plaintiff’s vehicle head on, killing the driver and seriously injuring his passenger/spouse. Issues included whether the tow truck driver was an employee or independent contractor of the tow truck company. Other defendants included the State of California, because plaintiff alleged that the roadway was improperly designed and maintained.

    view all