Hon. Alex Saldamando (Ret.)

Profile

Hon. Alex Saldamando (Ret.) has been a neutral at ADR Services since his retirement in 2005 after serving 26 years on the San Francisco Superior Court (15 years) and San Francisco Municipal Court (11 years). He has served as an arbitrator or mediator in more than 700 cases and has developed a reputation for being prepared, patient, and persistent in resolving disputes in many areas of the law.

ADR Experience

  • Employment, especially wage and hour issues
  • Property damage and personal injury torts, including medical, dental & legal malpractice
  • Real property issues involving commercial and residential real estate purchase agreements, rent-control and non-rent control landlord-tenant disputes, homeowner association disputes condominium and tenancy in common issues partition and sales of real estate- commercial and residential
  • Construction-defect related issues
  • Insurance coverage issues
  • Judge Saldamando has also participated in mock trials and as a neutral evaluator of potable water supply and software infringement disputes.

Judicial Experience

  • On the Superior Court, he served ten years as a civil trial judge, five years as a criminal court felony trial judge, as well as brief stints in juvenile court and civil law and motion.
  • Notable jury trials include a multi-year, bad faith insurance coverage case in which International Paper Corporation was awarded over $700 million dollars plus attorney fees by two separate juries against its primary level insurer, Wausau Insurance, and dozens of excess coverage insurers for bad faith failure to defend and indemnify Masonite Corp in a nationwide class action case litigated in Alabama.
  • Judge Saldamando also presided in lengthy jury trials dealing with high-rise building construction-defects involving Montgomery Washington Towers in downtown San Francisco (MWTA v Crow Spieker et. al) and a twenty plus story San Francisco State graduate student housing dormitory (Calif State University v Perini.)
  • He also served for five years as the conservation court judge specially appointed by the California Commissioner of Insurance to resolve CGL and other policy coverage claims brought against Golden Eagle Insurance Co, an insolvent insurer.
  • Judge Saldamando also presided over numerous jury trials dealing with dental and medical malpractice and asbestos and other other health endangering products such as defective Dalkon shields.
  • While on the Municipal Court, Judge Saldamando settled or tried numerous jury and non-jury tort cases including auto accidents and numerous landlord tenant disputes, dealing with both pre and post rent control issues.

Legal Experience

  • 1977-1979 – Assistant District Attorney
    • Served in the consumer Fraud Unit of the San Francisco District Attorney’s office
  • 1974-1977 – Managing Attorney/Chief legislative advocate for California Rural Legal Assistance in Sacramento.
    • Full-time lobbyist appearing before the California Legislature representing the interests of CRLA low income clients in pending state legislation involving employment, consumer credit issues including credit life and disability insurance and Personal Property Broker loan finance charge rates. Was also involved in the drafting and ultimate passage of CRLA sponsored legislation including AB1522(Berman) which establish the Berman wage-related administrative hearing procedure codified in Labor Code Sec. 98 et .seq.; SB1794(Nejedly) which amended Civil Code Section 2983.2 of the Automobile Sales Finance Act to permit limited reinstatement of auto installment sales contracts after default in payment by consumer auto purchasers; and SB 1978(Presley) which added CCP 690.30(now CCP 704.080) to provide a limited exemption from execution by judgment creditors of bank accounts holding federal social security benefits received by senior citizens and other federal assistance recipients.
    • Also lobbied in support of AB1310 (Berman) which added CCP 1021.5 to award attorney fees in cases enforcing important public interest rights.
  • 1970-1973 – Staff Attorney  San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation
    • Represented low-income clients in landlord-tenant, domestic relations and person injury defense.

Education

  • University of California (Berkeley) – B.A. Psychology – 1964
  • Hastings College of the Law – J.D. – 1967

Languages

  • Spanish – Native speaker

Representative Cases

Commercial Contract/General Business

  • Breach of Contract: Handled several breach of contract cases, involving: failure to pay promissory notes; software manufacturing and distribution; non-competition in an accounting firm; breach of lease by a food court lessee in a shopping mall; failure of a supplier to refund a down payment; the misuse of a particular software to develop other software, resulting in a $3 million award; and breach of contract damages involving frozen storage of umbilical cord stem cells by a University-affiliated company, resulting in a 7-figure verdict.
  • Unfair Debt Collection: Handled numerous unfair debt collection claims, involving: a bank attempting to collect on mortgage default deficiency where not entitled to do so, repossession of an automobile, failure to provide a Spanish language copy of a used car installment sales contract, a bank continuing to collect on credit card debt on a card that was the subject of identity theft, and recovery on failure to pay for work done on a home.
  • Mortgage Related: Resolved cases involving: a failure to advise a consumer that a home mortgage was adjustable and not fixed as promised; a Federal Real Estate Settlement Practice Act (RESPA) violation in refinancing of a residential home; and a mortgage rescues scam in which a mortgage lender sought $2.5 million in recovery from the original lender that sold mortgages to a group of Florida residential real estate mortgagees, from which the attorney involved was siphoning off loan proceeds that were earmarked to pay off loans.
  • Commercial – Failure to Pay: Handled several failure to pay claims, such as a failure to pay claim against a provider who ran medical clinical trials, as well as a claim against a provider of software development personnel to a software company for failure to pay for services rendered, which also involved a cross-complaint for failure to screen recruits properly.
  • Commercial – General: Resolved a wide variety of commercial claims, involving: an IP entrepreneur who sued a law firm for failure to issue stock certificates to secure investment; embezzlement by a realtor and contractor of funds to be used to remodel a house for purposes of sale; an insurance broker who sued an agent employee for taking real estate clients with her when left the broker’s employment; a bank who sued the manufacturer of defective fiberglass surrounds that were used to house the bank's ATM machines; a business owner who sued his bar-owner neighbor for attracting a gangster-type clientele that was negatively affecting his business; and the widow of a prominent San Francisco artist who sued for the return of a painting allegedly given by her husband to an artistic foundation, resolving in the return of the painting.
  • Commercial – High-Value: Presided over high-valued commercial disputes, involving: the failure of a bank to use stable value contracts and investment strategies, resulting in financial loses for a developer and an award of $8 million in damages; as well as a class action for fraud brought by gas station leasees seeking $2.2 billion for misrepresentation of a station lease rent reduction program based on meeting gasoline sales quotas, which resulted in a defense verdict.
  • Consumer – Lemon Law: Handled consumer disputes such as California Lemon Law claims.

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Construction

  • Construction Defect: Handled numerous construction defect cases, involving: defective ground floor slab and roof framing in a residential remodeling project; claims of defective work against a contractor for work done in home modeling repairs, with claims against a local hardware store for recommending the contractor as qualified; defective siding replacement work in a multi-story commercial building; a failure to apply waterproofing membrane properly leading to leaks in a 6-unit condominium development; construction defects in a high-rise mixed-use residential-commercial building, leading to water intrusion damage and a multi-million dollar award for damages; as well as defective workmanship and defective product in installation of a fire sprinkler system in a large clothing manufacturing warehouse, which resolved for nearly one million dollars in recovery.
  • Homeowners Association: Settled Homeowners Association cases, one of which involved defect damage from an add-a-garage contractor who allegedly performed unpermitted, unsafe work, and another of which involved an agreement by the Homeowners Association to cooperate in fixing deteriorating decks that were creating a safety hazard in an aging condominium complex.
  • Real Property Construction Related: Resolved dispute regarding claims of a failure to properly perform electrical repair work on school district classrooms by a general contractor, which also involved counter-claims of failure to pay contract retention fees.
  • Real Property Construction Related: Handled matter involving water intrusion problems in a new home built to replace a home that was burned to the ground in a fire.
  • Real Property Construction Related: Settled dispute over claims of negligent maintenance by a utility company in a residence that had been gutted by a fire, which was caused by sparks from an overhead powerline during a windy evening. Near total reconstruction of the residence was required and the matter was resolved for nearly one million dollars.

Elder Abuse

  • Wrongful Death: Handled a wrongful death claim involving an 88-year old who was asphyxiated when trapped between a bed and transfer pole in a rest home apartment. The matter was resolved for almost one million dollars.
  • Personal Injury and Wrongful Death: Handled personal injury and wrongful death claims against health care facilities resulting from ulcer-related issues in elderly patients.
  • Financial Abuse: Resolved several elder financial abuse claims involving misleading life insurance policies, inducements to alter names on real property titles, and the sale of annuities and estate plans.

Employment

  • Employment Discrimination and Wrongful Termination: Resolved numerous workplace discrimination and wrongful termination claims, involving: racial discrimination and racial slurs, age and sex-based discrimination, terminations in violation of public policy, the unlawful termination of a cleaning crew supervisor at a University facility, wrongful termination due to medical leave, and wrongful termination due to disability discrimination for mental depression.
  • Harassment: Resolved several sexual and non-sexual harassment claims in the restaurant and hospitality industries.
  • Tech Industry: Handled many employment disputes specifically in the tech industry, involving claims of wrongful termination for sex, age, and racial discrimination at software companies, as well as sexual harassment by supervisors. One such case, a wrongful termination claim based on a sexual harassment claim against a computer consulting group characterized as a "good old boys" club, resulted in a multi-million verdict for compensatory and punitive damages.
  • Wage & Hour: Handled numerous claims from a wide range of workers, including: restaurant employees, tailor shop employees, farm and agricultural industry workers, pet boarding and grooming service workers, butchers, kitchen helpers, cooks, care attendants for the elderly, live-in housekeepers, hotel maids, piece rate workers, gas station attendants, security guards, carwash employees, house painters, housing managers, roofing employees, sheetrock hangers, conference center exhibition set-up crews, and tree removal workers.
  • Wage & Hour: Handled claims involving failure to provide proper payment for overtime, failure to provide rest and meal breaks, failure to pay minimum wage, unpaid delay time, as well as other federal and state wage and hour claims. These cases include a $1.8 million federal class action case regarding a failure to comply with new federal labor code requirements.

Habitability

  • Breach of Warranty: Resolved several breach of warranty of habitability matters, which involved: failure to respond to noise complaints, mold issues so extensive a property was shut down by the County Health Department, non-permitted live-work units in a commercial building, vermin and property damage, Section 8 housing tenant matters, dilapidation and pest infestations, lack of heat, and numerous other Oakland and San Francisco Rent Ordinance habitability claims.
  • Settled habitability claims by 37 tenants in four connected apartment buildings for $1.3 million.

Insurance

  • Presided over a two-jury bad faith insurance coverage case brought by an insured manufacturer that had been sued by homeowners in a nationwide class action for manufacturing defective siding that was installed in their homes over a fifteen-year period. The first jury awarded over $100 million against the primary level insurer for bad faith failure to defend the insured, and the second jury awarded nearly $600 million against excess insurers for failure to indemnify.

Landlord/Tenant

  • Handled wrongful and retaliatory eviction claims under San Francisco and Oakland Rent Ordinances.
  • Resolved several re-occupancy disputes involving landlords refusing to allow tenants to re-occupy properties vacated due to fires, owner repairs, and capital improvements.
  • Settled matter in which there was a failure under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance by a landlord to notice of the right to re-enter a property to a tenant displaced by a fire.
  • Handled a case involving a failure to comply with relocation assistance required under the Berkeley Rent Ordinance, as well as claims of tenant harassment.
  • Resolved several claims of tenant harassment, sexual harassment, and sexual assault by landlords.
  • Handled owner move-in cases involving issues of fraud in the owner move-in claims.
  • Settled a case involving a mother with an asthmatic child who was forced out of a rental property by rates and the downstairs unit being used as an illegal gambling den.

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Legal Malpractice/Professional Negligence

  • Resolved a claim of professional negligence against a tax preparer for failure to file out-of-country assets owned by a taxpayer.
  • Handled legal malpractice claims, such as a cross-complaint in a case in which an attorney had sued for non-payment of fees, and a malpractice claim against an attorney for failing to properly present a wrongful death action.
  • Resolved a wide variety of professional malpractice claims, involving claims against: a prominent surgeon who conducted a coronary bypass; the operating surgeon who conducted a coronary bypass on a patient facing early death due to a heart defect; an operating surgeon for negligent installation of replacement knee joints in a former basketball player; a psychiatrist for the wrongful death of a suicide victim; a dentist for severing the lingual nerve in a patient, causing permanent tongue numbness and a loss of taste; and a professional liability insurer for settling a legal malpractice case that required the policy holder's consent over the insured attorney's objection.
  • Handled case of fiduciary fraud in a nonprofit Chinese opera school joint venture.

Partnership Dispute

  • Handled claims that resolved for over half a million dollars respectively in multiple partnership disputes involving breach of franchise investment law for the sale of franchises prior to registration with the United States Department of Corporations.
  • Resolved family partnership dispute over ownership and operation of bakery business.
  • Handled claim that a Defendant converted partnership assets into a personal business and failed to distribute the assets to the other partners.

Personal Injury

  • Municipal and City Related Personal Injury Cases: Handled numerous personal injury and wrongful death cases involving municipal and county bus, light rail trolley, and cable car accidents with passengers and automobiles, including wrongful deaths caused by a municipal bus striking a pedestrian in a crosswalk as it turned a corner, as well as by a municipal bus running a red light, which was resolved for $1.25 million.
  • Slip and Falls: Resolved slip and fall as well as trip and fall disputes, involving: a curb median at a sports arena, a hospital, a wet spot at a hotel basement, a depressed street corner at a crosswalk, an open sewer vent, a broken bottle remnant in Herman Plaza, and a business complex elevator.
  • Brain Injuries: Handled grievous brain injury claims, such as one matter involving a head-on collision, which forced a plaintiff off of the road and resulted in brain trauma and broken bones, settling for $3.5 million, as well as a matter involving a driver who was driving 80 miles per hour on city streets and lost control of the automobile, resulting in one passenger being placed in a vegetative state and the other passenger sustaining frontal lobe damage, and resolving for $1.25 million of insurance proceeds.
  • Bicycle Accidents: Settled bicycle accidents, involving: cognitive impairments from skull and face fractures incurred when a cyclist was cut off by a turning automobile; a dislocated shoulder sustained when a bicycle rider flipped over unmarked speed bumps in a business park; and severe chest and pelvic fractures caused by a big rig trunk knocking down and running over a cyclist, which resolved for $1.24 million.
  • Automobile Accidents: Handled a wide variety of automobile accidents and collisions, including, but not limited to, incidents involving automobiles going off the road, vehicles changing lanes, rear end collisions, and pedestrians struck by automobiles.
  • Asbestos/Toxic Torts: Settled asbestos-related wrongful death claims of railroad workers, as well as bystander exposure claims by the relatives of railroad workers, and mesothelioma cases involving an automobile repair buyer whose supplier of foreign automobile parts used brake shoes containing asbestos, a brake repairman for Chevron gas stations, and the employee of a fire door manufacturer that was using asbestos cores, which was resolved for $7.75 million. Also presided over cases in which mesothelioma was developed by an automobile mechanic replacing brake shoe linings who was awarded $1.125 million, and another matter involving mesothelioma from exposure to electrical equipment switches containing asbestos, leading to a $3 million verdict.
  • Motorbike Accidents: Resolved a matter between a motorbike rider and the motorbike manufacturer, in which the rider sustained severe physical injuries when the motorbike engine died midflight during a maneuver, settling the case for $1.05 million.
  • Other Personal Injury Claims: Handled several other types of personal injury matters, including: a cabdriver who was shot by a would-be fare, and who then sued the cab company; dog bites; injuries caused by falling objects; injuries caused by an improperly installed garage doors; inappropriate touching between minors; a funeral home that lost the ashes of a decedent in a burial plot; and a defamation claim against a Korean newspaper.

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Real Estate

  • Real Property Fraud: Settled matter in which a realtor allegedly deceived property owners seeking refinancing into selling property to a fictitious buyer.
  • Estates: Resolved estate matters, such as a conservatorship dispute between siblings regarding ownership of their mother’s estate, as well as the alteration of a real estate deed by the trustee of an estate so that the trustee could sell property as though he was an individual owner.
  • Communal, Jointly-Owned, and Adjoining Properties: Handled several disputes regarding communal, jointly-owned, and adjoining property, such as: a family dispute over the division of community property involving multiple real estate holdings of estranged spouses, which were worth over $5 million; a partition action over the jointly owned property of an unmarried couple; a dispute between adjoining property owners involving property line and other damages caused by construction; a lawsuit for property damage caused by flooding from an adjoining property neighbor’s drainage system negligence; and a boundary line dispute over encroachment vs. prescriptive easement in an alleyway separating two adjoining business.
  • Sale of Residential Property – Failures to Disclose: Mediated numerous disputes involving the sale of residential property and failures to disclose issues, such as: a lack of adequate water supply and other deficiencies on rural property; construction defects in a remodeled building; neighborhood noise and nuisance problems; street noise and acoustical defects in a condominium located near a bar; the extent of termite damage to a home; and whether a home repair contract was on time, whether the contract was material or fixed, and the extent of the scope of work.
  • Loan Foreclosure: Resolved case regarding a loan foreclosure violation against a loan servicing company for violation of the federal and California Homeowner Bill of Rights, in which a homeowner filed for bankruptcy four times in an effort to delay action.
  • Commercial Property: Handled commercial property disputes, such as a matter involving an oral partnership to develop residential housing and live-work offices in Monterey County, which resolved for over $800,000, as well as a dispute involving a breach of a residential hotel with SRO units to maintain and upgrade elevators and rooms.
  • Sale of Residential Property: Settled matter regarding the failure of a lender to provide a borrower with the proper five-day notice of cancellation under the federal Home Equity Sales Contract Act (HESCA).

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Tenancy in Common

  • Settled dispute involving a partition action of three units held as a Tenancy In Common, which resulted in the buyout of the third tenant by the other two and an agreement for the other two tenants to take over mortgage payments.
  • Handled matter regarding a failure to disclose an unpermitted bedroom in the sale of a Tenancy In Common unit, which resulted in a rewrite of the promissory note.