HON. DAVID C. VELASQUEZ, RET.

  • Available in Orange County, All of California
  • Available for Mediation, Arbitration, and Private Judging assignments

Introduction

Judge Velasquez retired in 2011, after 23 years of service for the Orange County Superior Court and currently serves as a mediator, arbitrator and private judge. During his tenure on the bench he sat in almost every department including the Appellate Department. However, his primary assignments were on the civil and complex civil panels. One of his most challenging and fulfilling assignments was as a judge on the Court's Complex Civil Panel, where he served for seven years starting in May, 2004. For four years of that term he served as the Supervising Judge. While sitting on the Court's Complex Civil Panel, he had the task of managing an average case load of 250 complex actions including dozens of complex business disputes, and over 100 class actions and construction defect actions alike. His case load included several mass tort actions involving national and international product liability/pharmaceutical claims, as well as a train crash - each such case numbering 125 to 250 plaintiffs.

Judge Velasquez loves to mediate and is proud that he personally participated in helping the parties settle scores of these actions including several "inventory" settlements as a way of managing the mass torts. Lawyers assigned to his court in these cases would soon become accustomed to the judge's "Sweeps Weeks" where he cleared his regular calendar to accommodate back-to-back settlement conferences for 1 to 2 weeks at a time on a single case. One attorney said, "It's unfortunate that he is leaving the bench, but I will definitely use him as a mediator or arbitrator. He's fair, a genuinely nice guy and you can tell how much he cares." Many others have concurred labeling him as "nice", "a true gentleman" and "fair to all parties".

Specialties

Hobbies & Interests

In his spare time Judge Velasquez enjoys studying World War II aircraft/model building, power walking, hiking and has a life goal of visiting every National Park in the U.S.

Testimonials

Judge Velasquez's perseverance and effort in this difficult case was impressive. I hope to work with him again in the future.
- Attorney, Los Angeles County, California

Judge Velasquez was very helpful in knowing the relevant legal theories and fostering settlement.
- Attorney on a Personal Injury/Sexual Harassment Dispute

Judge Velasquez did a very nice job in a very difficult situation. His assistance was greatly appreciated in settling the case.
- Attorney, Orange County, California

Judge Velasquez read all the material before hand, he was very knowledgeable and knew the law on the matter and he was very patient, yet very firm.
- Attorney, Irvine, California

Judge Velasquez kept an extremely volatile, emotional family business dispute under control. At one point it went nuclear and he still got it settled.
- Attorney on a complex breach of privacy dispute

I just wanted to thank you Judge Velasquez for all of his patience and hard work. He was instrumental in helping us reach this agreement. I will be sure to recommend him to all of my colleagues in the future.
- Attorney, Tarzana, California

Experience Summary

Legal Career

  • Judge, Orange County Superior Court (1990-2011)
  • Judge, Municipal Court, South Orange County Judicial District (1988-1990)
  • Criminal Prosecutor, Orange County District Attorney’s Office (1986-1988)
  • Criminal Prosecutor, Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office (1981-1986)
  • Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (1978-1981)

Education & Professional Affiliations

  • J.D. Loyola Law School, Los Angeles (1978)
  • B.A. California State University, Los Angeles (1973)
  • Board of Directors, ABTL Orange County Chapter (2011) (Member since 2006)
  • Member, Hispanic Bar Association (2000-Present)
  • Member, California Judges Association (1988-2011)
  • Member, Orange County Bar Association (1988 - Present)

Achievements & Awards

  • Honored by the Orange County Chapter of the Hispanic Bar Association as the "Jurist of the Year" (2011)
  • He has collaborated on an article for the Orange County Lawyer Magazine entitled "The Watchdog Role of the Court-Determination of fairness of proposed class action settlements." (September 2007)
  • Selected as Trial Judge of the Year by the Orange County chapter of ABOTA (2003)

Legal Experience

  • Class Actions
  • Product Liability including Pharmaceuticals
  • Employment
  • Professional Malpractice
  • Insurance Bad Faith
  • Environmental/CEQA
  • Real Property
  • All types of Personal Injury matters including Wrongful Death

Representative Case Information

Recent Representative Cases

Business/Commercial

Aviation

  • During the 600-hour scheduled maintenance/inspection, technicians forgot to properly secure the cowling over the engine of this private corporate jet. Employees of the owner of the jet participated in the work. In transcontinental flight to California, cowling assembly caught wind resulting in loss of major portion of the cowling and part of fusillage. Very ambiguous circumstantial evidence to prove whether the owner's employee, or the private mechanic was responsible.

Breach Of Privacy

  • Wrongful termination and breach of contract to grant plaintiff right of first refusal to purchase family-owned car dealership. The dispute was highly emotional between the family members.
  • Fuel supplier (plaintiff) claimed citrus grower failed to pay for fuel used to operate wind turbines. Grower claimed the plaintiff failed to deliver fuel on time as agreed. As result frost destroyed six figures worth of grower's crop.
  • Large international pharmaceutical company misappropriated model's image without compensation. (Civil Code section 3344.) Seven figure settlement due largely to company's net profit attributable to the use of the image.
  • In a binding arbitration matter, parties to a real estate partnership sought dissolution of the partnership, an accounting, and damages for alleged breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, breach of contract, and the cost to repair alleged defective work to remodel a luxury home on 6 acres with an ocean view. The original business plan was to purchase the property with an existing home, conduct an extensive remodel, and immediately sell the project. The relationship between the parties deteriorated before the project could be completed.

Complex Commercial

  • Misappropriation of trade secrets case. Thousands of documents. Very acrimonious relationship between family members who were the owners of a very successful IP firm.
  • Plaintiff was General Counsel for a very successful IP firm who agreed to take as his fee a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the corporation's patents. Plaintiff claims he was not paid for the sale of certain patents. Plaintiff was admitted to practice law in another state, and in a foreign country, but not in California. Defendant alleged the plaintiff was not eligible to be paid for sales f patents occurring during the time plaintiff was not licensed to practice law in California.
  • A bank made a loan secured by real property, and paid off the second. Unknown to first bank, the next day, another bank made also made a loan to same debtor. The first bank recorded its DOT first. The second bank never sought a subordination agreement from the first bank. Debtor defaulted on the first DOT and was foreclosed upon. The second bank seeks equitable subrogation.
  • Complex action alleging trade disparagement, and unfair competition under state and federal laws, and tortious interference with contractual relations. Plaintiff alleged the defendant was guilty of impugning the plaintiff's services ("slamming") through offshore boiler room telephone banks, and then undercutting the plaintiff's prices.

Consumer Class Action

  • Class action, potentially involving members in the thousands, arising under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (47 USCA Section 227, et seq. ("TCPA"). Main issue was whether the members of the class expressly consented to be called by the creditor in the course of attempting to collect payment for service.

Contractual

  • Six consolidate actions in which the plaintiffs alleged Securities fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty when the defendants breached their representation to invest on behalf of the plaintiffs in only low risk foreign mortgages. Plaintiffs also assert the defendants were not properly registered with the SEC.
  • Alleged construction defects in the construction of a multi-million dollar hilltop mansion - everything from the basement to the attic.
  • Real estate sales agreement allegedly breached when seller failed to perform escrow requirements Seller claimed the parties never agreed on the price of the property. Mediator helped the parties re-negotiate the sale for "win/win" result.
  • Mediated and settled a real property sales transaction breach, leading to specific performance action. Helped parties re-negotiate deal for a seven-figure settlement.
  • Arbitration for dissolution of partnership wherein each partner accused the other of breach of fiduciary duty arising out of failure to reimburse the partnership for personal expenses paid by the business.
  • Action under the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, and Civil Code section 1632 (requirement to provide foreign language translation of consumer sales agreement). The defendant failed to disclose defect and misrepresented condition of vehicle, and guided the plaintiff through English version of contract without Spanish translation. Car dealer instructed the plaintiff to acknowledge his receipt of certain documents he never received.
  • Securities fraud action wherein the plaintiff alleged she intended to buy the stock in one company, and instead was given stock in another corporation. The first corporation never existed. Plaintiff settled for the amount of her investment minus obligations she owed to the second corporation.
  • Home Owners Association sues landscape contractor for failing to keep up the appearance of the vegetation around the property. HOA alleges landscaper understaffed the project, cut back watering drastically to slow down growth of vegetation in order to cut costs, leading to stress in species of trees which blighted and all had to be cut down. Among issues was whether trees died as result of the drought, or the intentional under watering. Case settled in mediation.
  • Action under the California Legal Remedies Act seeking restitution for breach of contract by failing to disclose prior collision damage; and violation of Civil Code 1632. Partial issues:Is lender entitled to pre-filing notice from the consumer; must all documents be translated to Spanish; are attorneys' fees limited by the Holder Rule.
  • A business under the Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses Act contracted with an executive services consulting firm for the services of a CEO for the business. The CEO operated as an independent contractor. Issue was whether the oral agreement required the business to pay only for the services of the CEO or whether it provided for reimbursement of consulting costs in addition. The CEO had hired a family member for consulting services. Case settled in mediation.
  • In an arbitration, the claimant alleged he purchased a used vehicle from an auto dealer which violated the Consumers Legal Remedies Act (Civil Code §§1750, et seq.), the Unfair Competition Law (Bus. & Prof. Code §§17200 et seq.), and negligently misrepresented the vehicle as never having been in an accident. The claimant alleged the dealer had knowledge the vehicle actually had been in a collision and suffered major damage to its frame. The claimant had sued both the dealer and the financing company. The interesting twist in the case came when the finance company sought to disqualify the claimant's attorney on grounds the claimant’s attorney once represented another finance company which has since merged with the respondent finance company. The current finance company had taken over the other finance company. The respondent finance company proved the claimant's attorney had a conflict of interest because he was privy to confidential matters when representing the other finance company in a case involving the same issues as in the present lawsuit.
  • Neutral was appointed discovery referee and deposition officer in highly emotional intra-family dispute between adult child and parents. Plaintiff alleges his parents forged several deeds transferring to themselves all or a portion of his interest in the properties. Most properties valued in "7 figures."
  • In mediation, the plaintiff alleged it entered a contract titled a non-exclusive sales representation agreement which contained an at-will termination provision. Plaintiff contends it was required to pay a franchise fee, making the contract a franchise agreement under the California Franchise Relations Act, requiring termination only for good cause. Defendant terminated contract without identifying cause. Issues: Whether the plaintiff could prove its marketing costs were actually a form of franchise fee, and whether future lost profits could be proved by this startup company.
  • In this mediation, a dentist sought damages from a consultant who promised to design, construct, and equip her new office. The Dr. sued the consultant for negligence and breach of contract. The Dr. alleged the construction, and the equipment were defective. Matter settled during post-mediation efforts.

Franchise

  • Franchise dispute over franchiser's alleged failure to provide advertising and technology support. Alleged misdirection of phone calls to other franchisees for marketing purposes. Case settled, but alleged post-settlement breach of agreement lead to breakdown of transition of business ownership from franchise to franchisor.

Fraud/Misrepresentation

  • Real estate/secured transaction leading to claim of unfair debt collection/improper credit reporting case. The debtor defaulted on mortgage/deed of trust and then arranged to sell property to third-party investor for cash deal, and the buyer picks up the payments of the existing Mortgage. Lender approved the sale, but the mortgage was never assumed. Years later, lender's assignee starts to report to IRS (form 1098) that seller was paying interest (but he wasn't) leading to 5 figure tax lien. Seller claims mortgage holder ruined his credit and led to large tax payment.

Construction

Construction Breach Of Contract

  • Contractor's complaint for non-payment for construction of residence lead to cross-complaint for disgorgement of amounts paid by owner due to failure of contractor to be properly licensed and for defects in construction.

Construction Defects

  • Multi-million dollar home suffers water intrusion after remodel. Number of parties (fifteen subcontractors, general contractor, and homeowner) added to complexity.
  • Plaintiff alleged a host of construction defects suffered by its shopping mall, delay costs, and loss of rent well into the 8-figures. The case was over three years old by the time it was assigned of the mediator by the court pursuant to CCP Section 639. The initial challenge of the mediator was to salvage the prospects for settlement because the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant had become toxic.

Employment

Discrimination

  • Action by restaurant workers for damages for not providing meal and rest breaks, and failure to pay overtime pay, providing an inaccurate pay check stub, and waiting time penalties.
  • FEHA wrongful termination, and disability discrimination suit where key issues included whether the employee notified the employer of his need for accommodation at the work site.

Labor Code

  • Three-hundred member wage and hour class action alleging employer's failure to provide meal and rest breaks. Delivery drivers alleged that, although the dispatcher authorized lunch breaks, lunch was not authorized until after the fifth hour of work. Case settled for mid six-figures.

Wage & Hour Class Action

  • Wage and hour class action mediation wherein class demanded compensation for meal and rest breaks, overtime, reimbursement of business expenses for uniforms and cell phone use. Plaintiff alleged he and class members were threatened with deportation. Problem: defendant is small family run restaurant. Case resolved as individual settlement.
  • Wage and hour class action against finance institution seeking damages for failure to provide meal and rest breaks, PAGA penalties, and restitution under the UCL for class of nonexept underwriters. Case settled in seven-figures for class exceeding 600 employees.

Wage and Hour

  • Class of about 890 drivers sued for reimbursement of business expenses, mainly mileage, and failure to pay minimum wage when the drivers were on duty but waiting for an assignment ("down time").
  • Over 4,000 newspaper delivery drivers alleged they were employees, rather than independent contractors, and demanded reimbursement of business expenses, meal and rest pay, and statutory penalties, among other claims.
  • In mediation, several truck drivers alleged they were mis-classified as independent contractors instead of employees. Unusual about case is that the putative employer required the drivers to purchase their trucks through dealer and lender, and required insurance selected by the putative employer. Truck registered to driver. Loan was guaranteed by putative employer. If the driver missed payments, the putative employer could keep the loans current. Otherwise, trucks had all indecia of belonging to the putative employer.

Wrongful Termination

  • Action over interest in car dealership where the plaintiff claimed fraud in the inducement to enter into buy-out agreement. The defendant claimed the buy-out agreement was a valid accord and satisfaction of the dispute.
  • Wrongful termination, and disability discrimination suit arising from the alleged failure by the employer to engage in the interactive process in an attempt to find a reasonable accommodation to permit the employee to maintain his job.
  • In wrongful termination/discrimination case, the plaintiff employee was denied employer provided medical aid after he was injured on the job. Employer offered to pay the employee's medical bills under the table to avoid workers compensation filing. Termination followed after months of harassment. Problem for employee was lack of corroboration of his version of events. Case settled in mediation.
  • In wrongful termination arbitration, the claimant sued for bonus she earned but was not paid, and for damages for wrongful termination. Bonus issue depended on interpretation of oral and written terms of the bonus agreement. Claimant also contended she was fired for demanding her bonus.
  • In mediation, 61-year-old employee, an internal auditor, alleges wrongful termination as whistle-blower and age discrimination. Employee claims his supervisor pressured him not to submit the results of an internal investigation critical of the company which was required to be disclosed to the foreign equivalent of federal SEC. The employee filed his report anyway, and was terminated the following day. He was replaced by a young person. Settled in mediation.
  • In arbitration, the employee alleged the employer wrongfully denied her wages, in the form of a bonus, and then wrongfully terminated her employment because she complained about it in violation of Labor Code sec. 1102.5.
  • In this arbitration, former employee alleged that top level corporate officer made repeated sexually inappropriate remarks, and touched her legs, and breasts. Employer also asked employee to testify falsely against another employee in hearing where employer contested the second employee's unemployment benefits. The day after the employee complained on behalf of all employees about employer's failure to provide meal and rest breaks, she was fired. Employer operated as integrated enterprise among 7 separate commonly owned corporations, none of which separately had 50 or more employees.

Insurance

Bad Faith

  • Plaintiff alleged the insurance company insuring his business systematically seeks to withhold policy benefits from its insureds.

Probate

Estates/Trusts

  • Appointed by the court as discovery referee in a complex civil matter, the neutral is overseeing the discovery in a consolidated/coordinated matter which is 17 cases in one spread out over two counties, concerning allegations of breach of fiduciary duties by trustee of large family trust (valued in the "9-figures") and related entities, and related probate issues.

Probate

  • Inter-sibling dispute over decedent's real property claimed to have been acquired prior to the decedent's death through fraud and undue influence by one of the siblings. Extreme ill will between the one sibling and the others.
  • The beneficiaries of a family trust sued the Trustee, a sibling, for fraud and self-dealing. The salient time period of the events started 29 years before the case was filed, and required the examination of scores of financial transactions.

Professional Malpractice

Medical Malpractice

  • Wrongful death action arising out of alleged failure to provide dialysis leading to cardiac arrest. The decedent had long history of heart disease. Major issues concerned elements of standard of care, and whether alleged negligence caused the death.
  • In an arbitration, the surviving family members alleged the treating hospital told the 76-year-old decedent dialysis was unavailable to her because the hospital did not staff for that procedure over weekends. The deceased was suffering end stage renal failure and required dialysis every third day. On the fourth day of hospitalization without dialysis, the deceased began the day showing elevated blood markers for renal failure, but was not given dialysis until late afternoon. The procedure became complicated when a clot developed in the tube leading to the dialysis machine. The decedent suffered cardiac arrest before the dialysis could be completed.

Professional Malpractice Legal

  • Extremely wealthy family accuses attorney and trustee of the family trust of fraud, breach of fiduciary duty by overcharging his fees and self-dealing.
  • Legal malpractice case involving allegations of injury caused by mold exposure to four plaintiffs in the "case within the case." Layered over that were allegations of breach of fiduciary duty based on conversion and other intentional torts.
  • In arbitration on claim of wrongful eviction, homeowner sought to modify his mortgage. One department of the lender denied application for modification, but agreed to process request for short sale. In another one of lender's department, the foreclosure process continued even though the homeowner was told by bank that foreclosure would be stayed pending short sale. Homeowner even found able buyer to purchase the property at price greater than loan balance.

Real Estate

Breach Of Contract

  • Prospective buyers of real estate learn only after escrow is opened that the seller, broker, and initial escrow company are allegedly owned by the same person. Buyers also claim seller allegedly failed to disclose architectural defects in the property. Buyers assert seller committed fraud and breached its fiduciary duty. Settled in mediation.
  • In this mediation, the plaintiffs alleged the defendant violated the Homeowner Bill of Rights Act, Civil Code sections 2923.6 (dual tacking), and Civil Code section 2924.10 (lender's duty to keep homeowner informed). Plaintiffs alleged the lender failed to timely process plaintiffs' application for loan modification, while still proceeding with the foreclosure process; lender failed to comply with duty to advise borrowers of missing documents needed to process loan modification and deadlines to comply; and failed to advise of borrowers' right to appeal lender's denial of modification. Lender's notes reflected borrowers actually qualified for loan modification, but were not advised until after foreclosure sale.

Home Owners Association

  • Plaintiff seeks his attorneys' fees and expert costs incurred when the Home Owners Association unilaterally declared it intended to demolish a portion of the plaintiff's residential unit to fix a leak. When the plaintiff learned of the decision, he was forced to hire an attorney and several experts to investigate the HOA's concerns. The leak was never found.
  • Action by individual home owner for damages against the Home Owners Association for water/moisture intruding into his residence through the slab from beneath his unit.

Real Property

  • Title dispute to real property where the deeds are at odds with oral promises to transfer interests in the property.
  • A large national bank foreclosed upon the wrong property - wrong not only in the sense it was not the security for the particular loan, but also, the property was security for a loan by another bank.
  • Judge Velasquez was appointed discovery referee in a complex probate, and trust dispute, involving 12 different entities and beneficiaries of an extremely large family trust. Seventeen attorneys battled over whether the trustee breached his fiduciary duty in transactions going back several decades. Complex issues of attorney-client privilege, and third-party financial privacy, and the management of voluminous documents.

Tort

General Negligence

  • In a highly emotional mediation, plaintiffs alleged a cemetery mishandled human remains by agreeing to exhume a body for reburial in another section of the cemetery. A close relative of the deceased had purchased the grave site for the deceased at the time of his death, but the deceased's spouse had selected another grave site several months after the deceased passed away. Spouse claimed she has a statutory right to exhume and dispose of the body. The relative asserted her property and contractual rights and expectations that the cemetery would respect her interests and at least resort to court intervention before exhuming the body.

Personal Injury

  • Tie-down winch breaks off truck trailer, smashes through windshield of second vehicle and hits the other motorist in the face.
  • Dog bit the plaintiff's leg at the calf while the plaintiff was taking her daily walk. The dog's bite punctured the plaintiff's skin and left a small, permanent scar and loss of feeling to the skin around the wound.
  • Two boys under the age of six accuse their teenage babysitter of sexual molestation. Extremely sensitive issues when dealing with all parties.
  • Head-on collision between a freight train and a commuter train injuring 120 passengers. Crash resulted in many seriously injured, and three fatalities. PTSD was common among the injured.
  • Five-year old girl lost the flesh around left nostril when bitten on the nose by the neighbor's dog. After initial surgery, girl will likely need at least three more reconstructive surgeries. Case settled in mid-range of six figures.
  • 30-year-old, pregnant female tripped and fell at fast food restaurant landing hard on her knee. 2 hours later she suddenly starts vaginal bleeding. At ER as result of ultrasound, no fetus was found in her uterine, but doctor can't rule out an ectopic pregnancy. Plaintiff has history of ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages. Case settled in mediation.
  • While a minor, the plaintiff attended a rock climbing excursion with a youth group. She fell off the simulated cliff and suffered a seriously broken ankle. The plaintiff alleged the youth group failed to properly supervise the event. The youth group asserted secondary assumption of the risk. Case settled in mediation.

PI Assault and Battery

  • Time-to-time homeless person, plaintiff is suspected of petty theft by store manager who orders plaintiff's detention out in parking lot until police arrive. Contested fact whether the plaintiff initiated use of force or was tackled without provocation. Plaintiff was taken and held in store break room, where second incident occurred resulting in plaintiff being roughly pushed against wall, and breaking three of his ribs.

PI Auto

  • Auto accident at an intersection resulting in major property damage to the vehicles, and soft tissue injury to the plaintiff. The challenge for the plaintiff was determining which injury was caused by the collision and which was caused by his advanced, pre-existing Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Product liability/personal injury. Plaintiff alleged she was injured during a medical procedure when the tip of the endoscopic device being used broke off inside her pancreas. Out of 30,000 such devices manufactured, the product failed less than .010% of the time. Main issue was whether the device was negligently designed or manufactured. Significant 6-figure award.
  • Major multi-auto traffic collision resulting in permissive-use cause of action against corporate owner of a truck led to significant 6-figure settlement.

Policy Distribution

  • Apportionment action by six claimants arising out of a double-fatality car accident where there were inadequate policy limits to cover the loses.

Product Liability

  • In a national and international pharmaceutical products liability case, liability hinged on the resolution of a federal preemption issue of "first impression." The lawsuit was framed as both a class action (seeking damages for breach of warranty), and as a consolidated action (seeking personal injury damages) for over 70 individual injury cases, most of which involved catastrophic injury, including blindness and loss of eyes.

Wrongful Death

  • As a court appointed discovery referee, referee was called upon to resolve very contentious complex discovery disputes involving numerous parties, voluminous documents and over 12 motions in complex medical malpractice, elder abuse discovery, wrongful death action.

Downtown Los Angeles

601 S. Figueroa
Ste 4000
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Phone: 213.223.1113
Fax      : 213.223.1114

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West Los Angeles

11601 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 2040
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Phone: 310.442.2100
Fax      : 310.442.2125

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402 W. Broadway
Ste 2400
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619.814.1966
Fax      : 619.814.1967

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1851 East First Street
Ste 1600
Santa Ana, CA 92705
Phone: 714.834.1340
Fax      : 714.834.1344

Orange County Mediation

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100 Pine Street
Ste 1950
San Francisco, CA 94111
Phone: 415.266.1242
Fax      : 415.266.1243

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Sacramento

980 9th Street
Suite 2200
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916.394.8490
Fax      : 916.394.8495

Sacramento Mediation