Michael Roberts, Esq.


Michael J. Roberts, Esq. is a full-time mediator and arbitrator of over 25 years and is widely recognized for his expertise and resolve in settling complex and difficult cases in the areas of employment, construction, business, real estate and insurance.


  • Since 1985 has served as a mediator and special master in over 4,000 cases with aggregate settlement in excess of $800 million.
  • Particularly accomplished at mediating major financial controversies, complex multiparty and class action matters.
  • Daily Journal selection as one of California’s Top 50 Mediators.


  • Employment
  • Construction
  • Business & Commercial
  • Real Estate
  • Insurance
  • Environmental
  • Intellectual Property


  • ADR Services, Inc. (2006-Present)
  • JAMS (2002-2006)
  • Mediation Offices of Michael J. Roberts (1992-2002)
  • Senior Litigation Partner in major San Diego law firms, specializing in construction, employment, business and real estate (1973-1993)
  • San Diego District Attorney’s Office (1970-1973)


  • Selected as one of California’s top 50 neutrals by the Daily Journal
  • Super Lawyer in the area of Alternative Dispute Resolution (1997-Present)
  • San Diego Magazine Top Lawyer’s List, (2010-Present).
  • Member, Association of Business Trial Lawyers
  • Fellow, International Academy of Mediators (1997-2015)
  • Chairperson, Construction and Real Estate Advisory Committees, American Arbitration Association
  • Chairperson, Real Estate Law Section, San Diego County Bar Association


Mr. Roberts is a frequent speaker on subjects relating to negotiation, mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. A few of his selected speaking engagements include:

  • “Designing a Multi-Step Approach to Resolving Employment Disputes”
  • “Mediating Wage & Hour Class Actions”
  • “Creative Strategies for Handling Construction Defect Claims in California”
  • “Why Mediation Works in Business Disputes”
  • “Mediating With Public Entities”
  • “Negotiating with Difficult People”
  • “Alternative Dispute Resolution for Real Estate Disputes”
  • “What Every Environmental Lawyer Should Know About Mediation”
  • “Mediation of Eminent Domain Cases”
  • “Advanced Mediation Strategies for Experienced Litigators”
  • “Erosion of Mediation Confidentiality in California”


Mr. Roberts is the author of various articles relating to mediation, including the following:

  • “The Importance of Timing in Resolving Employment Disputes”
  • “Mediating Complex Multi-Party Construction Disputes”
  • “Employment Mediation From the Mediator’s Point of View”
  • “Why Mediation Works”
  • “An Executive’s Guide to Managing Conflict”
  • “Choosing the Right Mediator: A Guide to Effective Mediation Styles”
  • “Why Mediation Works After Negotiations Fail”

Representative Cases


  • Mediated terms of long-term healthcare agreement between a regional hospital and primary care HMO with 100 physicians
  • Action by minority shareholders seeking involuntary corporate dissolution
  • Attorney and accounting errors and omissions arising out of $125 million business acquisition
  • Dispute between major fast food franchisor and franchisees concerning terms of co-op advertising agreements
  • Dispute between major bank and computer software supplier concerning defects in branch banking accounting software
  • Dispute between high tech public company and licensee over alleged breach of exclusive license agreement for sale of company's products throughout United States
  • Dispute between founding shareholder and company contending breach of fiduciary duty as a result of being forced to give up control
  • Mediated mobile home park rent control agreement between city and owners of mobile home parks
  • Dispute between limited partners and general partner arising out of sale of partnership's interest in Hawaii resort investment
  • Dispute between timeshare developer and owner of hotels concerning breach of agreement to rent rooms and conference facilities
  • Claim of fraud and negligent misrepresentation against electric utility arising out of unbundling of rates for industrial users adversely affecting investors in cogeneration power plants
  • Served as court appointed partition referee in action between partners in 60-acre commercial real estate site
  • Mediated numerous claims by investors against registered broker-dealers and investment advisors regarding claims of suitability, churning, and breaches of fiduciary duty
  • Mediated numerous attorney and accountant firm dissolutions
  • Breach of executive compensation and stock option agreement arising out of "for cause" termination of CEO of public company
  • Breach of purchase and sale agreement for portfolio of secured real estate loans
  • Action by lender to foreclose security interest in mini-storage warehouse business which had filed bankruptcy
  • Claim by shipyard for wave damage to pier and dry dock facilities arising out of launching of large vessels by adjoining shipyard
  • Disputes between Native American tribe and developer of gaming facilities
  • Breach of loan covenants dispute between commercial bank and motor home dealer
  • Actions by Resolution Trust Corporation to enforce personal guarantee of commercial loans made to non-profit corporation
  • Action by professional medical corporation against bank to rescind promissory notes evidencing loans obtained through embezzlement and to invalidate payment made on forged checks
  • Action to foreclose on accounts receivable, inventory and personal property collateral
  • Action by high tech company against former executives who set up competing company in violation of non-competition and confidentiality agreement
  • Disputes between beneficiaries of estate planning trust regarding division of family business and related real estate assets
  • Dispute between long distance telephone carriers over disclosure of proprietary customer information by former executive
  • Attorney errors and omissions in connection with acquisition of company
  • Action by business against insurer re $2.8 million in business income losses
  • Dispute between high tech company and European account representative regarding commissions due
  • Claim by founder of high tech company against officers, directors and majority shareholders claiming intentional interference with employment relationship
  • Class action involving alleged securities fraud against public company arising out of failure to disclose contingent liabilities
  • Claim for accounting and money due under earn-out provision of buy and sell agreement
  • Claim against broker dealer arising out of sale of collateralized mortgage obligations to retirement trust

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  • Environmental cleanup dispute between Prime Contractor and San Diego Airport Authority
  • Construction defect case involving 150 home subdivision with significant damage arising from soil movement and cost of repair estimates in excess of $25 million
  • Construction defect action by HOA against developer and general contractor on mixed condominium and single-family project containing 500 units. Issues involved architectural, structural, drainage, HVAC, plumbing and electrical, structural and mold related damage. Case involved dozens of insurance carriers, attorneys and experts and numerous coverage, exhaustion, additional insured and shortfall issues.
  • Inverse condemnation action against City for landslide caused by defective water main which destroyed numerus homes. Case involved additional claims between HOA and homeowners and more than 25 lenders who held deeds of trust on destroyed homes.
  • Claims by architectural firm against school district for money owned in connection with construction of new high school and counter claims for negligent supervision by architects
  • Construction defect action by HOA in connection with defective EFIS system and curtain wall on high rise condominium project
  • Claims against contractor's bonding company arising from $18 million earthquake damage claim to church and related facilities
  • Construction claims of $7.5 million by City against engineering contractor arising from failure to construct a 12-mile pipeline project in compliance with plans and in a workmanlike manner
  • Mechanic's lien and payment bond claims related to construction of regional shopping center
  • Design and construction failures of 200 post tension slabs constructed on expansive soils
  • Construction claims for business interruption, loss of use and cost of repair to 100,000 square foot office building arising from soil subsidence against the original developer of industrial park lots
  • Claims for over $2 million in remediation costs and personal injury arising from mold damage caused by negligent repair of water main break
  • Claims by structural steel fabricator against contractor on construction of Business School facility on UCLA campus. Issues involved negligent "take offs" and preparation of shop drawings by detailer
  • Bad faith claims by homeowners against insurance company for negligent repairs to homes following Northridge Earthquake
  • Dispute between owner, contractor, architects and construction manager concerning $12 million in delay damages in connection with construction of senior retirement and long-term care facility
  • Claims against developer of 400-unit Mobile Home Community for defects in construction and maintenance
  • Claims by contractor against U.S. Navy arising from construction of 150 military housing units
  • Construction disputes between owner and contractor in connection with construction of cogeneration power plant
  • Architect and structural design errors and omissions arising out of construction of Palm Springs hotel and convention center
  • Design and workmanship claims arising from inadequate HVAC system in connection with the construction of a community college facility
  • Design and construction claims arising out of construction of wastewater treatment plant for public sanitation district
  • Class action by over 100 homeowners in two separate lawsuits involving sulfate damage to concrete slabs
  • Design, construction, structural engineering deficiencies and delay claims arising out of construction of $12 million-dollar single-family residence in Los Angeles
  • Flood damage claims in Riverside against numerous developers of residential communities and flood control district

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  • Sexual harassment, wrongful termination and various employment related torts by CEO of public corporation arising out of allegedly consensual sexual relationship with assistant
  • Termination of company CFO for absenteeism as a result of her need to care for ailing relative allegedly in violation of Family Medical Leave Act
  • Termination of partner of national law firm due to aggressive and demeaning actions toward female associates with allegations that the firm failed to follow its progressive discipline policy
  • Class Action against Fortune 500 Company alleging failure to pay required overtime to allegedly non-exempt employees who were compensated on a commission basis
  • Sexual harassment claim against supervisor where violation not reported through the channels specifically required under Company's Policy and Procedures manual
  • Claim of disability discrimination by employee of a major public utility for claimed refusal to provide reasonable accommodations in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Gender discrimination and constructive termination claim by female insurance company executive following her resignation due to promotion of less qualified male executive to be her direct superior
  • False imprisonment, sexual battery and sexual harassment claims by female employee who was required to accompany her male superior on multiple out-of-state business trips
  • Claims of race and age discrimination in the termination of 15 plaintiffs by a major defense contractor in downsizing
  • Malicious prosecution claim arising out of lawsuit filed to prevent disclosure of alleged trade secrets
  • Wrongful termination claim by sales representative who was allegedly hired from a competitor in order to obtain proprietary information and then terminated after that information was obtained
  • Age discrimination claim by CEO arising out of his termination following a corporate merger and reorganization
  • Reverse discrimination claim by University Administrator following denial of promotion to Academic Dean position
  • Whistle Blower claims by corporate executive and company controller as a result of termination following reports to SEC concerning accounting irregularities

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  • Matters involving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California State Water Resources Control Board, California Coastal Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, California Air Resources Board, local air pollution control districts, regional air quality management districts, regional water quality control boards and other local agencies
  • Clean air and water disputes involving shipyards on San Diego Bay
  • Clean Water Act issues involving agricultural runoff from irrigated lands
  • Inverse condemnation and environmental contamination issues arising from flooding from storm drains, irrigation canals or other water sources
  • Land use, development and construction issues involving CEQA or other environmental regulations
  • Cases involving storm water regulation issues
  • Underground storage tank matters involving soil and water contamination and related clean up issues
  • Environmental impacts of various development projects including urban redevelopment and conversion of forest lands for residential development
  • Citizen suits involving private enforcement of environmental laws
  • Cases involving endangered species regulations
  • Tideland construction and land use issues including private suits to stop construction or to enforce public access or view corridors
  • Cases involving the judicial and public enforcement of CEQA remedies including serving as a discovery referee in mandamus proceedings in CEQA cases
  • Cases involving the construction and regulation of waste water disposal/cleanup facilities
  • Numerous claims by purchasers against sellers and real estate brokers relating to non-disclosure of environmental issues
  • Public and private disputes involving the cleanup of hazardous wastes
  • Dispute involving the environmental impact of pesticides and chemicals used to enhance or retard the ripening process of wine and table grapes

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  • Delay and incomplete payment following fire loss
  • Claim against insurance broker for failing to obtain broad form property damage coverage on behalf of insured real estate developer
  • Claim of bad faith for failing to continue payments under disability policy
  • Numerous bad faith claims arising out of the adjusting and settlement of earthquake damage claims following the Northridge earthquake
  • Insurance coverage disputes arising in connection with the mediation of over 1,000 construction defect actions
  • Bad faith refusal to pay life insurance benefits
  • Dispute between insured and insurance company over loss of income damages arising from hotel fire
  • Dispute between co-insurers concerning who is primary and who is excess
  • Numerous disputes concerning obligation to defend and indemnify under additional insured endorsements, including apportionment of defense fees and costs among additional insured carriers
  • Bad faith claims arising out of insurers' failure to properly remediate mold damage and pay policy benefits
  • Coverage dispute arising from insured's failure to cooperate
  • Numerous disputes concerning carriers' reservation of rights and insured's claim of entitlement to Cumis counsel
  • Bad faith claims involving issues of exhaustion of primary policies
  • Dispute involving coverage issues under attorney malpractice policies
  • Claims by board of HOA against its former president under fiduciary liability policy
  • Dispute concerning coverage under directors and officers' liability policy
  • Insurance coverage dispute involving interpretation of "advertising injury" coverage in connection with business litigation claims
  • Numerous coverage disputes arising out of construction projects

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  • Dispute between a technology corporation and former key employees charged with stealing trade secrets and patented components of a telecommunications process
  • Patent infringement claim made by manufacturer of electronic communication equipment against a competitor
  • Dispute between biotechnology companies concerning royalty claims under exclusive license agreement for use of patents
  • Patent infringement claims between suppliers of specialty automotive accessories
  • Patent infringement and misappropriation of trade secret claims re: medical implants
  • Dispute concerning violation of software licensing agreement for inventory control software
  • Royalty dispute involving sale of proprietary software after expiration of exclusive license
  • Royalty dispute involving sales of patented medical equipment
  • Dispute between inventor and major manufacturer of sports equipment
  • Employment and shareholder claims between company and founding shareholder who had invented a patented medical device
  • Dispute involving patent licenses and royalty agreements for orthodontic devices
  • Dispute by the owner of allegedly unique technology against departing officers accused of stealing technology and illegally competing with former employer
  • Claims arising from disclosure of patented invention to a major manufacturer in the context of a consulting and product development agreement

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  • Subdivision dispute between City and developer regarding required public improvements
  • Real estate commission dispute between school district and major commercial real estate brokerage company
  • Hundreds of claims by purchasers against sellers and real estate brokers relating to non-disclosure issues
  • Action by major bank tenant to enforce option to purchase downtown high rise office building
  • Dispute between joint venture partners concerning development of regional shopping center
  • Inverse condemnation action against flood control district arising out of flood damage to 1,200-unit apartment complex
  • Mediated mobile home rent control ordinance between city and owners of mobile home parks
  • Dispute between adjoining property owners over view easement rights
  • Action by heirs to divide $49 million in real estate trust assets
  • Action by owner of commercial property against adjacent shopping center developer for damage caused by lateral soils movement 

  • Claims among adjoining property owners over implied and prescriptive easement rights for ingress and egress
  • Hundreds of construction disputes between owners, contractors, subcontractors and design professionals concerning construction of commercial, industrial and residential projects
  • Action by owner of real property against title insurance company which had insured title to parcel sold in violation of the Subdivision Map Act
  • Action against sole tenant of 200,000 square foot office building for collection of rent and unlawful detainer with cross action for accounting as to common area maintenance expenses
  • Dispute between Native American tribe and developer of gaming facility arising out of breach of real property development agreement
  • Specific performance of an option to purchase by developers of commercial property against owners of adjacent optioned land
  • Dispute between developer of single-family residential subdivision and construction lender over release provisions contained in deed of trust securing construction loan
  • Toxic mold claim by property owner against developer of high end home in Laguna Beach arising from water damage caused by defective construction
  • Fraud and misrepresentation claims in connection with sale of 400-unit apartment building
  • Environmental contamination claim by adjoining property owners against major oil company arising from leaking of underground gasoline storage tank
  • Court appointed partition referee in action between co-owners to partition 69 acre parcel of land zoned for mixed commercial and residential use
  • Claim by tenants against shopping center developer contending no liability for rent due to misrepresentations by shopping center developer
  • Dispute under long term ground lease concerning interpretation of rent adjustment provisions
  • Dispute between buyers and sellers of industrial land concerning subordination and release provisions contained in purchase money note and deed of trust
  • Adverse possession and prescriptive easement claims by encroaching property owners
  • Dispute between shopping center prime tenant and landlord concerning lease of nearby shopping center site to competitor of prime tenant
  • Real estate partnership dispute concerning distribution of sales proceeds of condominium development among joint venture partners
  • Condemnation action by Water District against owners of several adjoining commercial properties and cross-actions by property owners claiming damages arising from unlawful pre-condemnation activities
  • Dispute between limited partners and general partner arising out of sale of partnership's interest in Hawaii resort property investment
  • Dispute between partners in time-share development
  • Dispute between beneficiary of deed of trust on long term ground lease and lender who provided permanent financing for construction of commercial office building thereon
  • Investors' claim of securities fraud against Real Estate Investment Trust 

  • Dispute arising from sale of servicing rights to portfolio of mortgage obligations

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“Mike Roberts did a great, and successful, job in a difficult case. He will be my first choice for my next mediation.”

Articles / Publications