Neutral Profile



  • Based in Northern California
  • Available for Mediation, Arbitration, and Private Judging assignments


After serving on the Sacramento Superior Court bench for 18 years, In 2020, Judge Abbott retired and is available to serve as a Mediator, Arbitrator, and Private Judge. During his tenure on the bench, he presided over civil and criminal jury trials, civil case management calendars, complex civil cases, and law and motion. Judge Abbott has earned a reputation as a fair, intelligent, and flexible judge and was awarded Judge of the Year by several organizations.
Before his judicial career, he was a trial attorney for over 25 years in a tort litigation practice emphasizing product liability, professional negligence, general personal injury, and insurance bad faith. He was known as a respectful adversary trying dozens of cases and was admitted into the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) where he is still an active member.
Judge Abbott stated, “My goal as a professional neutral is to assist the parties to achieve settlement and resolve disputes with dignity, creativity, and respect. Judges don’t settle cases, lawyers and litigants do.”

Practice Areas

Experience Summary

Judge Abbott has been involved in a wide variety of cases as a trial lawyer for 28 years and a trial judge for 18 years.

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Hobbies & Interests

Judge Abbott has been a Rotarian for 30 years and is an advocate for literacy in public schools and serves on the advisory board of the Sacramento Chapter of Reading Partners a nonprofit that tutors children in reading and spelling. He also enjoys playing golf, bicycle riding, reading, traveling and crossword puzzles.


"Judge Abbott did a great overall job."
- Attorney on a Premises Liability case

"While our case did not settle, that was not the mediator's fault. Judge Abbott listened carefully and offered helpful suggestions on how we might get the case to settlement in the future. He followed up afterward by telephone, to offer additional suggestions. It is very likely that we will bring this case back to Judge Abbott for further mediation once the parties have conducted some discovery."
- Attorney on a Business Contractual Case

"Judge Abbott is a very effective neutral. He still asserts himself with the same authority and influence that he had while he was a judge."
- Attorney on a Business Contractual Fraud case

"Judge Abbott was a great trial judge, is both wise and honest, and call’s the balls and strikes as he sees them. He has been a consistent contributor to the Sacramento legal community and represents the level of excellence that most just aspire to. "
- Sacramento Attorney

Links and Articles

Experience Summary


• Breach of contract involving a construction of a power facility

• Breach of contract involving software development companies

• Breach of a Health services contract for indigent care reimbursement

• Removal of general partner of a law firm

• Law partnership dissolution

• Stock re-purchase agreement; indemnity

• Breach of franchise agreement involving a motor vehicle company

• Breach of an Entertainment contract which resulted in payment of royalties

• Public construction contract, sewer system

• Insurance brokerage agreement with alleged fraud


• Constructive wrongful termination, defamation, retaliation

• Wrongful termination, retaliation, harassment

• Racial discrimination, retaliation

• Failure to provide reasonable accommodation, retaliation

• Whistleblower, retaliation, wrongful termination

• Wage and hour dispute, complex case


• Pricing dispute for medically uninsured patients

• A complex case involving Indigent medical care reimbursement

• Invasion of privacy, disclosure of HIV status


• Malicious prosecution arising from enforcement of waste disposal contract

• Malicious prosecution and predatory eviction, abuse of process

• First amendment rights, malicious prosecution


• DUI, wrongful death

• Lumbar spinal injury, surgical instrumentation, cage fusion

• Cervical spinal injury, disk excision with instrumentation

• Low impact, cervical spinal injury with disk excision

• Negligent maintenance and repair, traumatic brain injury

• Negligence by interstate carrier causing catastrophic injury; vicarious liability


• Legal malpractice and fraud resulting from non-compliance with California Tort Claims Act

• Legal malpractice pertaining to creation of a conservatorship

• Legal malpractice, involving enforcement of judgment

• Medical malpractice, obstetrics care resulting in post-partum injury

• Medical malpractice, diagnosis and treatment of atroke

• Medical malpractice, diagnosis and treatment of pre-eclampsia

• Medical malpractice, management of psychiatric care

• Medical malpractice, failure to diagnose endometrial cancer

• Medical malpractice, failure to diagnose intervertebral disk injury


• Automobile, uncontrolled acceleration, wrongful death

• Automobile, defective tire, rollover, wrongful death

• Automobile, Lemon Law

• Construction heater, resulting in burns

• Defective passenger restraint which resulted wrongful death and settled with a structured settlement


• Police pursuit which resulted in a traumatic brain injury

• Dangerous condition of public property, highway design resulting in a catastrophic injury

• Negligent operation of emergency vehicle and resulted in a wrongful death

• Dangerous condition of public property, premises liability

• Dangerous condition of public property, pedestrian crossing resulting in a traumatic brain injury


• Electric signage, commercial lease

• HOA dispute, ownership of common area

• HOA, home improvement and maintenance

Legal Career

  • Full Time Neutral, Judicate West (Present)
  • Judge, Sacramento Superior Court (2002-2020), Assistant Presiding Judge 2008-2009 and 2018-2019, and four years as Supervising Judge at the Carol Miller Justice Center
  • Judge, Sacramento Veterans’ Treatment Court (2014-2019)
  • Trial Attorney, Abbott & Nolen (1996-2001)
  • Trial Attorney, Law Office of David W. Abbott (1990-1996)
  • Trial Attorney, Gessford & Abbott (1983-1990)
  • Trial Attorney, Gessford, Sevey & Alpar (1981-1983)
  • Trial Attorney, Freidberg Law Corporation (1978-1981)

Education & Professional Affiliations

  • Strauss Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine/Caruso School of Law, Mediating the Litigated Case: The Art of Facilitating Settlement (August 2022)
  • J.D. University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law (1973)
  • B.A. University of California, Berkeley (1970)
  • Sacramento County Bar Association, Member (1978-Present)
  • Capitol City Trial Lawyers Association, Member (1978-2002)
  • American Board of Trial Advocates, ABOTA, Sacramento Chapter, Member (1993-Present)
  • California Judges Association, Member (2002-2020)
  • Wiley Manuel Bar Association, Member (1996-2005)

Achievements & Awards

  • Distinguished Judicial Service Award, CCTLA 2019
  • Judge of the Year award, Sacramento Bar Association 2017
  • Judge of the Year award, ABOTA, Sacramento chapter 2011
  • Judge of the Year award, CCTLA, 2008

Legal Experience

  • All Types of Personal Injury
  • Complex Litigation and Coordinated Actions
  • Insurance Bad Faith
  • Products Liability
  • Professional Negligence
  • Wrongful Death

Representative Case Information

Recent Representative Cases



  • Breach of an incorporation agreement forming a company to enter a contract with a vast Internet-based retailer to deliver purchases to consumers.


  • Low eight-figure settlement of a suit arising from a Ponzi scheme. Plaintiffs were sophisticated investors duped by a Ponzi schemer, who obtained investments in a business that did not exist. The actual perpetrator was convicted of mail fraud and plaintiffs alleged the bank through which he conducted his fraudulent business was negligent in failing to recognize certain “red flags” indicating insolvency and was actually "complicit in furthering the fraudulent scheme."

Professional Malpractice

Medical Malpractice

  • Failure to timely diagnose, assess, and treat a malignant bladder lesion, resulting in a terminal diagnosis of a middle-aged woman. The settlement included the potential claim for wrongful death.
  • Medical malpractice alleging negligent placement of a spinal stimulator after an unsuccessful laminectomy/spinal fusion surgery.


Catastrophic Injury

  • Plaintiff was a passenger in his own vehicle, teaching the juvenile driver to do reckless maneuvers, resulting in a loss of control and side impact with a utility power pole located on a sidewalk. Plaintiff's theory was a dangerous condition of public property, claiming the pole was too close to the curb. The public entity asserted design immunity and negligence of the driver as the sole cause of injury. Injuries included traumatic brain injury, subdural hematoma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, with residual cognitive deficits and left hemiplegia. Demand was in the low seven-figure range; zero offer with a motion for summary judgment pending.

Personal Injury

  • A dog bite injury to the plaintiff's right [major] hand, with residual degenerative changes to the medial metacarpal joint in the index finger. Plaintiff was the sole source of income for her family and worked on a commission-only basis. Keyboarding was a critical element of her job. Degenerative changes to the injured joint caused persistent pain with normal work activity. Liability was admitted. Settlement in the six-figure range was reached.
  • Trip and fall causing spinal and shoulder injuries and multiple surgeries. Future economic damages for income loss and medical expenses were not claimed. Workers' compensation complaint in intervention remains unresolved. The total settlement was in the mid-six-figure range.
  • Plaintiffs were severely injured in a construction electrocution incident, resulting in severe burns, and loss of limbs and digits. One plaintiff was deemed negligent in the occurrence of the incident. The primary contractor defendant tendered policy limits in the seven-figure range and the parties agreed to mediate the division of the settlement proceeds.

PI Auto

  • The plaintiff was struck while crossing a private road by a delivery van attempting to enter a two-lane through a roadway. Plaintiff suffered spinal injuries to her neck and low back resulting in two fusion surgeries and the probability of future fusion at adjacent levels.
  • Rear-end MVA with claimed past medical expenses and future expenses, including spinal surgery. Much of the specials, including surgery, had been subject of liens. Total settlement, including loss of consortium, was in the seven-figure range.
  • Traumatic brain injury and multiple internal injuries/fractures to a teenage girl, resulting from a high-speed rear-end collision. The defendant driver was under the influence of marijuana and a benzodiazepine drug. Plaintiff's father was driving and suffered less severe injuries, which included a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress.
  • Three-vehicle, rear-end collision involving heavy-duty trucks. Plaintiff claimed cervical and lumbar spinal injuries that required pain management care for the cervical and spinal fusion for the lumbar. Defendants admitted liability but contested the nature and extent of the injury and the need for future care, including surgery. The total settlement was in the six-figure range, inclusive of the workers' compensation lien.
  • A forklift operator collided with an automobile driven by the plaintiff, penetrating the driver's side door and inflicting blunt trauma to the plaintiff's left leg and left torso, resulting in residual loss of lung capacity and PTSD, with loss of consortium.
  • Two low-speed motor vehicle accidents almost 3 years apart, producing primarily spinal injuries in an HVAC installer with a vocational rehab assessment of "unemployable." The total award against both defendants was in the six-figure range, including spouse's claim for loss of consortium.
  • Rear-end motor vehicle collision resulting in permanent injury to the facet joints at two levels in claimant's lumbar spine. Damages were past and future medical care and non-economic; no income loss was claimed.
  • Rear-end collision between an uninsured SUV and flatbed truck towing a trailer filled with rocks weighing thousands of pounds. Low Delta-V, but significant energy absorbed by impact. Disputed injuries included cervical disk herniation and lumbar disk injury in a cement mason operating a successful contracting business. Uninsured motorist. Damages were determined to be in the mid-six-figure range.
  • Clear liability motor vehicle collision between a CHP patrol vehicle and plaintiff's car. Liability was admitted; plaintiffs' injuries and damages were disputed, including traumatic brain injury to one plaintiff.
  • Motorcycle vs. auto collision causing multiple fractures, and closed head injury resulting in multiple surgeries and extended rehabilitative care. Admitted liability with economic damages in the low-seven-figure range. Settlement in the mid-seven-figure range.
  • Dangerous condition of public property (a highway) involving design immunity defense, head-on collision, multiple fractures, and TBI and internal injury.

Premises Liability

  • Slip and fall in a retail checkout area due to water on the floor. Plaintiff injured her hip, resulting in corrective arthroscopic repair of the joint and joint capsule. Liability was disputed.

Wrongful Death

  • The wrongful death of a young man was caused by the negligent discharge of a shotgun while the defendant and decedent were engaged in "horseplay" with the firearm. Plaintiff was the mother of the deceased. A mid-six-figure settlement was reached.
  • Wrongful death of a child on a theory of dangerous condition of public property.