Hon. Richard E. Rico (Ret.)


Hon. Richard E. Rico draws upon 20 years of judicial expertise and 15 years of civil litigation and appellate experience to resolve civil disputes, including Employment, PAGA, Wage & Hour, Commercial Contract and General Business, Legal Malpractice, Toxic Tort, and Consumer Disputes.

As a Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge Rico presided over an Independent Calendar Court, where he conducted trials, motions, pretrial proceedings, and settlement conferences in a wide variety of civil matters. The strength of his legal knowledge and his thorough analysis of the issues at hand– combined with his excellent judicial temperament–have made him one of the court’s most well-respected jurists.

As an ardent advocate for equal access to justice, Judge Rico has been described as a patient judge who gives each litigant a chance to be heard. He listens closely and with an open mind, and he has a stellar reputation for impartiality and integrity. Judge Rico brings this same temperament and character to his work as a mediator, arbitrator, and referee.

A native of Los Angeles, Judge Rico was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles County Law Library. He has also participated in the CORO Foundation, providing real-world experience for young scholars. His wife, Barbara, is a Professor of English at Loyola Marymount University.


  • Employment, including Wrongful Termination, Harassment, Discrimination
  • PAGA (Private Attorney General Act) Cases
  • Wage & Hour
  • Commercial Contract / General Business
  • Legal Malpractice
  • Toxic Tort
  • Consumer Disputes, including Lemon Law


  • Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court, 2000-2020
  • Judge, Los Angeles Municipal Court, 1999-2000
  • Associate Justice Pro Tem, California Court of Appeal, 2nd Appellate District, 2002

Judge Rico was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court by then Governor Gray Davis in 1999. At the time of his appointment, he was the only Judge of that court of Mexican descent. He was subsequently elevated to the Superior Court upon court unification in 2000.

Beginning in 2006, Judge Rico handled civil assignments, including 11 years presiding over an Independent Calendar Court in Downtown Los Angeles. He has handled numerous cases in the areas of Employment, Wage & Hour, PAGA, Contract Disputes, and Lemon Law. He was an Associate Editor of Gavel to Gavel, in addition to being a member of the Legislation and Civil and Small Claims Committees. His previous assignments include Criminal Calendar Trial Courts and Criminal Arraignment Calendar.

In 2002, Judge Rico was appointed to serve on assignment as an Associate Justice Pro Tem for the California Court of Appeal, 2nd Appellate District, Division One.


  • Senior Research Attorney, 4th District Court of Appeal, Division Three, 1995-1999
  • Shareholder, Breidenbach, Huchting & Hamblet, 1984-1995

After graduating from Stanford Law School in 1984, Judge Rico joined the well-known Los Angeles civil litigation fim of Breidenbach, Huchting & Hamblet (later Breidenbach, Buckley, Huchting, Halm & Hamblet). As a lawyer, he handled numerous cases in the areas of Employment, Legal Malpractice, and Toxic Tort. He continued his work at the firm for 11 years, eventually becoming a Partner.

In 1995, Judge Rico entered public service and joined the California Court of Appeal, 4th Appellate District, as a Senior Research Attorney. He worked closely with then Associate Justice Hon. William F. Rylaarsdam, an assignment which provided him with unmatched experience in all areas of the law, including criminal, civil, family, and juvenile. He remained at the Court of Appeal until his appointment to the bench in 1999.


  • Stanford Law School, J.D., 1984
  • Yale University, B.A., 1976


  • Los Angeles County Law Library, Board of Trustees, 2017-2020
  • California State Bar
  • CORO Foundation
  • Mexican American Bar Association
  • Yale Club of Southern California

Judge Rico is also admitted to practice in the California State Bar (1984), United States District Court, Central District (1985), and United States Court of Appeal, Ninth Circuit (1993).

Representative Cases


  • Products liability case involving a wrongful death claim of an allegedly defective vehicle.
  • Trial judge in a case involving an allegedly defective small aircraft.
  • Trial judge in a product liability case involving a drug that allegedly caused the consumer of the medication to commit suicide.


  • Wrongful termination case involved an employee terminated for improperly filing out time sheets.
  • Employment case involving a claim of gender harassment and discrimination.
  • Wrongful termination claim involving the failure of a subsequent employer to retain an employee employed by the predecessor company.
  • Wage and hour case involving an employee who drove part time for the employer delivering goods.
  • Dispute between a Landlord and the manager hired to oversee an apartment complex. Issue involved duties and payment of salary as well as compensation given (rent reduction).
  • FEHA case involving an employee terminated for violations of company policy. Plaintiff argued that the termination was pre-textual.
  • Trial judge in a wrongful termination case involving claims of racial and gender discrimination.
  • Trial judge in a wrongful employment case involving claims of gender bias and sexual misconduct.
  • Trial judge in a wrongful termination case involving FEHA claims.
  • Trial judge in a case involving a radiologist whose contract with a health provider was terminated for allegedly disclosing improper medical practices.

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  • Alleged malpractice by a real estate broker regarding the sale of a residence over alleged misrepresentations.
  • Suit against a former property owner over the sale of allegedly contaminated soil.
  • Dispute between family members over the purchase of property together over a period of decades. Eventually the subsequent generation sought to dispute the ownership of the various properties purchased as a family.
  • Dispute over the ownership of property between two brothers and a former spouse.
  • Trial judge in a case of inverse condemnation against a mall developer by a neighboring property owner.
  • Trial judge in a claim involving the alleged fraudulent transfer of property to avoid a judgment.
  • Trial judge involving a dispute between a home owner and the home owners association over changes to the home.
  • Trial attorney involving a Marvin action brought by a former girl friend against her former boy friend over the ownership of property acquired during the time they were together.
  • Trial judge in a dispute by various factions a church over which faction controls the church’s property.
  • Trial judge in a case involving slander of title and the forging of title documents.
  • Trial judge in a property dispute between neighbors over the right to cut trees that interfered with one neighbor’s view.

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  • Personal injury case involving an employee injured while climbing a utility pole.
  • Claim of masseuse malpractice. Plaintiff claimed he was injured when he received a massage from the therapist.
  • Trial judge in various personal injury cases involving traffic accidents.
  • Trial judge in an assault case alleging improper touching in a massage parlor.
  • Trial judge in a personal injury action in which the primary injury was a claim of post-concussive syndrome.
  • Trial judge in a dog bite case.
  • Trial judge in a case involving a dispute over produce imported into the U.S. and the responsibility for its damage.
  • Trial judge in a case against a city fire department for failing to respond quickly enough to an emergency.
  • Trial judge in a case against the city for unrepaired sidewalk that cause injury to a tripping plaintiff.
  • Trial judge in a case involving an allegedly defect crane which caused injury to a third party.
  • Trial judge in a medical malpractice case involving the delivery of a still born child.

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  • Insurance broker malpractice over the procuring of the wrong type of insurance for a manufacturing company.
  • Real estate broker malpractice case against a broker who purportedly failed to properly forward an offer to purchase resulting in the loss of the ability to purchase property at a favorable price.
  • Attorney malpractice case against an attorney for failing to prosecute a against the client’s former employer for wrongful termination.
  • Real estate broker action for allegedly misrepresenting the square footage of a residence being purchased.
  • An attorney malpractice case in which the client sued the attorney for a claim the attorney felt to be non-meritorious.
  • Trial judge in a case in attorney malpractice.

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  • Toxic torts involving expose to various alleged toxic chemicals.
  • Trial judge in a dispute between the State and a recycling center over alleged improper handling of waste products.


  • Dispute between members of an LLC over the extent of the members to conduct business outside of the LLC.
  • Trial judge in a case involving claims by a home owner against a contractor for negligence, breach of contract and over billing in a multi-million dollar renovation of a home.
  • Trial judge in a case involving the breach of fiduciary duty by property managers of property owned by an out of town landlord.


  • Trial judge in a dispute between insurance companies over which company was responsible for defending and indemnifying an insured following a accident involving the death of a third party.
  • Trial judge in a claim involving the right to recover under a title insurance policy for an easement that was not recorded.


  • Trial judge in various unlawful detainer cases involving landlord/tenant disputes.


  • Trial judge in a construction defect case involving a hill side residence that proved to be unstable.


“Judge Rico doesn’t waste any time getting to the point. What’s valuable about Judge Rico is his ability to understand issues very quickly. He quickly is able to pick up on fluff or nonsense claims or defenses. He sees right through that.”

“Judge Rico just cuts right to the chase. It’s a no-nonsense approach where he says, ‘You’re not going to get very far with this and let me tell you why.’ Sometimes mediators can go too far with the pushing, so far so fast that the plaintiffs’ side doesn’t trust them. There wasn’t any of that. Because I felt listened to and that Judge Rico understood where I’m coming from and what I need in order to recommend a certain amount, it was easier to trust him when he told me he sees certain weaknesses.”

“I used Judge Rico as a mediator in a financial lending dispute that didn’t resolve on the day of mediation, but his involvement and advice still made a substantial impact. There are times that no matter what a mediator does – he or she can be the greatest mediator in the world – but the parties are not going to settle. And Judge Rico didn’t try to force a settlement. He explained to the parties where some of the weaknesses in their positions may be, and he gave suggestions on what to do ultimately end up resolving the case. All of the parties eventually ended up following his suggestions. And ultimately, that did lead everybody to come to their sense and say, ‘Hey we don’t need to take this to trial. Let’s settle.’”