Profile

Hon. Victoria Wood (Ret.) is a retired Judge of the Napa County Superior Court where she served her community with dedication for nearly two decades. Judge Wood’s judicial tenure was marked by versatility, as she has presided over a wide range of cases in various assignments, including civil, probate and family law. Her responsibilities extended to overseeing complex jury trials, appeals, and high-conflict mediations. She also held diverse and impactful roles in court leadership, including serving as the Presiding Judge of the Appellate Division, Assistant Presiding Judge of the Court, and as Lead Judge for the Civil, Juvenile, and Family Law Divisions.

For three years, Judge Wood played a crucial role as the judicial liaison to the Napa County Civil Grand Jury, where she supervised recruitment, investigation, and reporting efforts. Her expertise and dedication to legal education and research is further evident in her 18-year service on the Napa County Law Library Board of Trustees, where she recently served as the immediate past president.

Prior to her appointment to the superior court bench, Judge Wood’s contributions to the Court included close to five years as Court Commissioner, where she presided over a family law calendar that included dissolution and child custody matters, as well as restraining orders, child support and small claims cases, in addition to criminal matters. She also worked for nearly a decade as court counsel, performing the legal research and writing for tentative rulings, orders, and opinions for civil law and motion, probate, and Appellate Division matters. In addition to her time at the superior court, Judge Wood also gained valuable experience working as a chambers attorney for Justice Wes Walker at the First District Court of Appeal, and in private practice.

Judge Wood received a B.S. in Sociology and a B.A. in Spanish from Pacific Union College, graduating magna cum laude. She received her J.D. from the University of California, Davis School of Law, where she will be teaching an Alternative Dispute Resolution Class in the Fall of 2024.

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

  • Business / Commercial Contracts
  • Employment / Wage & Hour
  • Environmental
  • Family Law
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Personal Injury
  • Probate, Estates & Trusts
  • Real Estate / Real Property

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Judge, Superior Court of California, County of Napa 2017-2024

  • Presided over all types of civil, probate, family, criminal and juvenile matters, including complex jury trials, appeals and high conflict mediations in family, civil and probate matters.
  • Assistant Presiding Judge of the Napa Court (2022-2023).
  • Lead Judge of the Family Law Division (2022-2023).
  • Lead Judge of the Juvenile Division (2022-2023).
  • Lead Judge of the Appellate Division (2019-2021).
  • Lead Judge of the Civil Division (2018-2021).
  • Panel Judge for the Appellate Division (2018-2024).
  • Judicial Liaison to the Napa County Grand Jury (2018-2021).

Commissioner, Superior Court of California, County of Napa 2013-2017

  • Presided over a family law calendar that included dissolution and child custody matters, restraining orders, child support, small claims, juvenile delinquency, juvenile traffic, truancy, juvenile dependency, and emergency protective orders (2015-2017).
  • Presided over a criminal calendar that included misdemeanor arraignments, settlement conferences, judicial interventions, pre-trial motions, probation revocation hearings, drug court and adult traffic court (2013-2014).

Court Counsel, Superior Court of California, County of Napa 2004-2013

  • Researched and wrote tentative rulings and orders for civil law and motion and probate.
  • Drafted all of the opinions for the court’s appellate division, with a published decision.
  • Fielded legal questions involving all areas of law and administration of the court.
  • Served as a Riese hearing officer (2006-2008) and judge pro tem (2008-2013).

Attorney, Hanna, Brophy, MacLean, McAleer & Jensen, San Francisco 1998-2000; 2002-2004

  • Contract Attorney: Researched and consulted with managing partner on novel labor law and civil law issues. Drafted motions, trial briefs and appeals for managing partner (2002-2004).
  • Associate Attorney: Managed caseload, planned legal strategies, advised clients, took depositions, appeared in administrative law hearings, argued law and motion and negotiated settlements. Managed firm’s law library (1998-2000)

Chambers Attorney, 1st District Court of Appeal, San Francisco 2001

  • Drafted appellate opinions based upon legal research, as well as review and analysis of legal briefs and appellate record in all legal areas, with four published decisions.
  • Advised and conferred with appellate justices on novel legal issues/splits of decision.

Associate Attorney, Harbinson, Carlson & Tune, San Francisco 1997-1998

  • Researched legal issues and consulted with clients and law partners.
  • Drafted client letters, legal memoranda, motions, trial briefs, petitions for reconsideration and petitions for review.

MEDIATION & ARBITRATION EXPERIENCE

  • Mediator, Arbitrator, Referee, ADR Services, Inc., 2024-Present
  • Mediator, San Francisco Superior Court Probate Pro Bono Mediation Panel, 2024-Present

EDUCATION

  • Pepperdine University School of Law, Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution: “Mediating the Litigated Case” 2024
  • J.D., University of California, Davis, School of Law 1997
  • Pepperdine University School of Law
  • B.S. in Sociology and B.A. in Spanish, magna cum laude, Pacific Union College 1994

LEGAL ASSOCIATIONS AND LEADERSHIP

  • Member, The Richard M. Sangster Inn of Court, 2023-Present.
  • Member, National Association of Women Judges, 2023-Present.
  • Member, Rules Subcommittee of the Trial Court Presiding Judge Advisory Comm., 2022-2023.
  • Liaison, Judicial Council Appellate Advisory Committee, 2022-2023.
  • Member, Napa County Juvenile Justice Commission, 2022-2023.
  • Board Member and Past President, Napa County Law Library Board of Trustees, 2005-Present.
  • Member, Napa County Bar Association, 2005-Present.
  • Member and Past Treasurer, Napa County Women Lawyers, 2005-Present.
  • Team Coach and Presiding Judge, Napa County Mock Trial Program, 2015-2020.
  • Attorney Mentor and Presiding Judge, Napa County Peer Court Program, 2009-2020.
  • Advisory Board Member, Napa Valley Education Foundation, 2017-2018.
  • Member, Napa County Catalyst Coalition, 2016-2017.

Representative Cases

COMMERCIAL CONTRACT/GENERAL BUSINESS:

  • Settled Song-Beverly Act claims for violation of express/implied warranties and for fraudulent inducement.
  • Commercial unlawful detainer on a 20-year lease matter involving contract interpretation of language in the force majeure clause of tenant’s lease to determine its application to the impacts of COVID pandemic business restrictions.
  • Three related cases involving claims of intentional misrepresentation, concealment and unjust enrichment related to payments for contractor services made through a subsidiary company that filed for bankruptcy resulting in adversary proceedings determining the payments were fraudulent transfers owed back to bankruptcy estate.
  • Claims of breach of contract, breach of implied warranty and negligence based on alleged deficiency of wine tank foundation materials. Required technical understanding of material specifications and processes and involved complex legal analysis as to foreseeability and mitigation of damages.
  • Claims of breach of contract, conversion, fraud, constructive trust, unjust enrichment, aiding and abetting and civil conspiracy related to contract for remodel and design of winery tasting room.
  • Dispute regarding right to terminate a construction contract, requiring interpretation of “delay” language to determine applicability to COVID-related permitting and supply chain impacts.
  • Claims of breach of contract and fiduciary duty, as well as negligence and negligent misrepresentation for insurance company’s alleged failure to properly insure against fire loss. Required interpretation of policy language and representations as to conditions of coverage.
  • Issues as to scope of arbitration and findings on commercial lease termination involving question of Premises Total Destruction clause and meaning of “good faith efforts” prior to termination.
  • Analyzed propriety of preliminary injunction as to representations of business partnership’s election and identification of managers and making distributions on partnership dissolution.
  • Direct and derivative action alleging fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, waste, unjust enrichment, breach of contract against various partnership individuals and entities, requiring complex legal analysis as to shareholder standing, adequacy of pre-suit Board demand, and demand futility.
  • Insurance carrier’s claims against vehicle manufacturer for mass defects involving issues of subject jurisdiction, forum, subrogation, assignment of claims, and equitable contribution.

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REAL PROPERTY:

  • Settled high-conflict easement encroachment, nuisance, trespass claims between adjoining property owners.
  • Claims of quiet title hinging on determination of the validity and interpretation of a 1910 easement. Also involved standing issue tied to time of property ownership and filing of complaint.
  • Interpretation of contract regarding purchase of land by adjoining property owner involving questions regarding option language, lot line adjustments, boundary survey maps and the Williamson Act.
  • Resolved issues surrounding enforcement of an agreement settling a nuisance and unlawful construction claim against adjoining property owner requiring tracking of permits and implementation of pond outfall improvement work.
  • Easement dispute hinging on interpretation of 1971 conveyance deed and analysis of after-acquired title doctrine.
  • Claims of nuisance, trespass and prescriptive easement requiring analysis of evidence of use involving primary and secondary access easements.
  • 1161a unlawful detainer with demurrer raising issues with service, notice, market value and perfection of title.

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EMPLOYMENT, WAGE AND HOUR:

  • Employee suit involving claims for workplace sex discrimination, misrepresentation, breach of contract and retaliation that implicated complex legal theories including Cat’s Paw, Vicarious Liability and Joint Venture.
  • Title Company’s claims against former employees for breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of duty of loyalty, Intentional Interference with Prospective Economic Benefit, and Unfair Competition.
  • Claims of wrongful termination based on age discrimination and whistleblower retaliation against large public entity, involving complicated causation and Cat’s Paw issues.
  • Claims for violation of Labor Code section 6310, 970, 1002.5, as well as wrongful constructive discharge and wage and hour violations requiring nuanced look at causation, burden of proof and burden shifting, as well as what constitutes protected activities.
  • Analyzed wage and hour claims to significant detail, including whether adequate meal and rest periods are provided and reported and what constitutes proper time card rounding.
  • Employment action against a large winery involving claims of wrongful demotion, whistleblower retaliation, sexual harassment, and code violations.

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PERSONAL INJURY, MEDICAL MALPRACTICE:

  • Wrongful death/survivor action emanating from car accident followed by hospitalization and subsequent death involving complex medical causation issues.
  • Motor Vehicle accident case requiring analysis of injuries, continued treatment and medical liens.
  • Claims arising out of independent contractor’s injury at a winery involving causation and liability issues based on analysis of Cal-OSHA requirements and exception to Privette doctrine based on property owner’s equipment defects.
  • Premises liability case focused on issue of property owner’s actual or constructive knowledge of dangerous condition.
  • Personal injury suit for alleged negligent provision of medical information leading to termination of pregnancy, involving “substantial factor” issues of causation.
  • Medical malpractice action involving faulty anesthesia pump requiring in-depth analysis of standard of care, causation and injury/damages.

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FAMILY LAW:

  • Settled all trial issues in high-conflict, hybrid-representation matter, including division of property, income and support dispute, arrears and long-distance custody/visitation issues.
  • Settled high-conflict, 6-child custody dispute, with need for significantly detailed resolution as to legal decision making for behaviorally challenged minors.
  • Settled matter involving claim for a nearly $1 million support arrearage that hinged on disputed designation of asset ownership.
  • Settled hybrid-representation matter regarding all marital property, debt and support issues, including division of military benefits.
  • Settled issues of custody/visitation, parenting parameters and treatment plan for teenage child being released from in-patient mental health facility.
  • Settled all property and support issues, including claims regarding transmutation of title to real property and co-mingling of sale proceeds.
  • Settled complex asset division issues, including competing requests for real property buy outs.
  • Settled high-conflict child custody dispute with an 87-page evaluator’s report and a week-long trial time estimate.
  • Settled property and support matters complicated by sizeable debt, downturn in self-employment industry, and significant change in anticipated bonuses.
  • Settled property division case involving primary residence and rental property, both with disputes as to separate property interests, as well as Watts/Epstein claims.
  • Settled all disputed issues in highly emotional, self-represented case compounded by claims of parental alienation.
  • Settled previously resolved matter that had no record of terms and sat stale for over a year with new arguments as to a lack of prior meeting of the minds.
  • Claim to ownership interest in separate property residence requiring analysis of title presumptions, oral agreements, down payment and mortgage contributions.
  • Claims for enforcement and modification of marital settlement agreement and support obligations involving questions of contract interpretation, required disclosures as to new business formation, as well as breach of fiduciary duties.
  • Settled property division matter with unusual community property holdings including sports collector’s items, as well as cryptocurrency and Metaversal investments.

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PROBATE, ESTATES & TRUSTS:

  • Settled large family trust dispute involving trustor’s declining competency and continued ownership and management of family’s highly-regulated business.
  • Settled three-case trust dispute involving distribution of three real properties and one beneficiary’s purchase of family winery located on one of the properties.
  • Conservatorship estate dispute requiring resolution of investment versus sale of three real properties in various states of decline.
  • Claims of undue influence allegedly responsible for last-minute modifications of trust impacting familial and charity beneficiaries.
  • $20 million estate matter with four intertwined cases and large, competing charitable beneficiaries requiring resolution of issues involving discovery, consolidation of cases and validity of trust restatements.
  • Competing trust cases involving three real properties and four siblings with claims of fraud and absconding by trustee sibling.
  • Settled dispute over revocation of trust and intestacy and whether step-children were intended as beneficiaries.

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CEQA / ENVIRONMENTAL:

  • 16-count challenge to 109-page certification of EIR after eight-year environmental review process involving procedural issues such as res judicata, waiver, beneficial interest/standing and exhaustion of remedies, as well as claimed deficiencies as to analysis of air quality, greenhouse gasses, traffic, water supply, water quality, biological, noise, vibration, and aesthetic impacts.
  • Analysis of whether winery project exempt from CEQA review under a Class 1 categorical exemption as a minor alteration of existing facilities and mechanical equipment involving negligible or no expansion of use.
  • Claims that state agency's approval of Timber Harvest Plan for vineyard development project requiring conversion of timberland acreage failed to satisfy requirements of CEQA and the Forest Practice Act.
  • Analysis of municipality’s approval of second phase of enlarged retail project without requiring supplemental environmental review or major modification approval.

Testimonials

“I had the pleasure of working with Judge Wood in a very high conflict custody case. The case was on its way to a lengthy and painful trial and I am confident it would not have settled had Judge Wood not stepped in. Judge Wood gave us two days of her (already heavily impacted) time, read and absorbed everything that was submitted to her, was thoughtful and commonsensical in her approach, directive when useful, skillful at explaining the various outcomes awaiting the parties without being heavy-handed, and always compassionate. Tempers frequently flared in chambers—Judge Wood was a cool and steady presence, the consummate “adult in the room.”  She took great care to assure that everyone felt heard and never took her eyes off the ultimate issue—what was best for the parties’ children.  ADR is fortunate to add Judge Wood to their list of family law neutrals.”


“My first experience with Judge Wood was such a positive one. I appeared in her Napa County courtroom prepared to proceed with a trial involving domestic violence, child custody, visitation, and support, for what were highly contested issues. With Judge Wood’s expertise, as well as her compassionate and empathetic approach to both my client and my opposing party, the case settled before the end of the morning. I would highly recommend Judge Wood for any ADR dispute resolution. My office will be keeping her in our arsenal and resources that my office can tap into in order to reach the best outcome available for my clients.”


“Judge Wood came onto a case that I thought would never settle.  The parties were very far apart and had been fighting for years.  One of the parties was self-represented.  She was patient with the parties.  Walking them through their distrust to reach a resolution and move on with their lives.  It took time, but Judge Wood held in there with her patience that made all the difference.  I wouldn’t hesitate to use her expertise to help on any case, but especially one with high conflict and deep distrust between the parties.”


“Judge Wood’s numerous qualities that make her so successful in mediating and settling high conflict family law cases include her ability to analyze complex legal issues, her keen knowledge of the law, her range of experience in various capacities as a judge, her caring nature for the involved parties, and her concern for the well-being of minors.  Judge Wood specializes in finding solutions to difficult problems and has the intelligence, level-headedness, and demeanor to carry the most challenging cases through to a resolution that heals and restores equanimity in families.”


“Judge Wood approaches every matter with fairness, kindness and sharp legal acuity. She leaves litigants feeling respected and understanding of the compromises that were necessary to resolve the issue.  Judge Wood is sure to be an asset to the ADR community.”


“Judge Wood has a knack for proposing creative solutions in the midst of a pressure-filled family law dynamic where emotions are wound tight. She is both compassionate and realistic; this mindset resonates with clients and inspires trust and a willingness to compromise.”


“Judge Wood is an excellent mediator. Her understanding and compassion towards complex legal and emotional matters results in positive outcomes, even with the most skeptical of litigants. She offers unique solutions to resolve matters while keeping parties focused on compromise and resolution. I have utilized her in several matters, and highly recommend her for dispute resolution.”