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
  • All Types of Personal Injury
  • Complex Litigation and Coordinated Actions
  • Insurance Bad Faith
  • Products Liability
  • Professional Negligence
  • Wrongful Death
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 golf, riding bicycles, reading, traveling, and crossword puzzles.

Legal Career
  • Full Time Neutral, Judicate West (2020-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
Below is a sampling of the various matters Hon. David W. Abbott, Ret. presided over on the bench, tried as an attorney, or handled as a neutral.


  • Breach of an incorporation agreement forming a company to enter a contract with a vast Internet-based retailer to deliver purchases to consumers.
  • Judge Abbott has extensive experience handling business disputes across various industries, including power facilities companies, software development contracts, health services contract conflicts, law firm partnership dissolutions, stock repurchase agreements, franchise agreement breaches, entertainment contract disputes, public entity contract issues, insurance brokerage agreements with alleged fraud and more.


  • 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."

Wrongful Term & Discrimination

  • He has extensive experience handling various employment disputes, including constructive wrongful termination, defamation, retaliation, harassment, racial discrimination, failure to provide reasonable accommodations, whistleblower cases, wage and hour disputes, and other intricate employment matters.

Government Liability

  • He was involved in government liability disputes, including cases involving hazardous public property conditions, negligent operation of emergency vehicles, and other related matters.

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.
  • He handled many cases involving medical negligence, including matters involving failure to diagnose, mismanagement of psychiatric care, obstetric care, and more.
  • Hernia repair surgery resulting in the death of a male in his early forties who was married with two children.

Professional Malpractice Legal

  • Judge Abbott was involved in legal malpractice cases, including fraud arising from non-compliance with California Tort Claims Act, claims related to conservatorship creation, and matters involving judgment enforcement.

Real Property

  • Judge Abbott presided and was involved in disputes involving homeowners' associations (HOAs) as well as commercial lease-related cases.

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.

General Negligence

  • 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.

Personal Injury

  • 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.
  • Mediated a case that resulted in a TBI from a single vehicle collision due to brake failure resulting from negligent maintenance by plaintiff's employer and others, with a duty to maintain the work vehicle. Also, only one settling defendant was insured.

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.

Product Liability

  • Judge Abbott handled numerous product liability cases, many of which pertained to automobiles.

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.
Judge Abbott was excellent. Smart, patient, and effective.
- Attorney on a Real Property Breach of Contract Case
Judge Abbott did a great overall job.
- Attorney on a Premises Liability Case
Judge Abbott was excellent. Smart, prepared, and fair. He settled our case, which we did not anticipate.
- Partner at a Firm Based in Sacramento
Judge Abbott took an impossible case to settle and got it closed!
- Attorney on the American Board of Trial Advocates
Your efforts were very much appreciated. Without your skilled diplomacy, we would still be facing years of dispute and no hope of recovery in the foreseeable future.
- Owner and Senior Attorney, Highly Experienced in Complex, Family Law Matters
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
I was very pleased. Judge Abbott was able to help us reach a settlement when I did not think it possible. Both sides seemed inclined to walk away numerous times and he was able to help us see the strengths and weaknesses of our case and keep us working towards a successful settlement. I would definitely use him again.
- Attorney on a Wrongful Death Negligence 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
Hon. David W. Abbott, Ret.
Based in Northern California
Case Manager: Angela Lamarre