Neutral Profile



  • Based in Orange County, available Nationwide
  • Mediation Only


After 38 years as a litigator, Ed Oster moved out of the courtroom and became a full-time mediator. As a trial lawyer, Ed handled complex insurance coverage, bad faith, commercial and real estate litigation at the highest levels. He tried cases throughout all eleven major counties in Northern and Southern California, in both state and federal court. During that time he gained a lifetime of experience in all phases of civil litigation as well as an insider's knowledge of the insurance industry, all the while earning the trust and confidence of both co-counsel and adversaries who are now amongst his biggest supporters.

Ed passionately believes that the best settlements are those where everyone has achieved value, and that is what he delivers. His skill as a mediator springs from his natural ability to develop genuine relationships built on mutual respect. A top plaintiff's lawyer in Los Angeles says simply, "Extremely smart. Tough. Fair." A New York partner in a national defense firm observed: "He established almost instant rapport all around, and painlessly got the job done for all of us." A frequent mediation participant put it this way: "If you could go into a laboratory and put together in one person everything you want in a mediator - experience, integrity, intelligence, creativity and personality - you would have Ed Oster."

Practice Areas

ADR Highlights

  • Successfully mediating cases in New York City, Hartford, CT, Chicago, Las Vegas, Seattle and Portland, as well as all six Judicate West offices in California
  • Receiving so many cases from former courtroom adversaries and competitors
  • Read More

Hobbies & Interests

Mr. Oster spends as much of his spare time as he can with family, is an avid hiker and amateur astronomer, He enjoys reading history, Mark Twain and Sherlock Holmes.


ADR Highlights

  • Successfully mediating cases in New York City, Hartford, CT, Chicago, Las Vegas, Seattle and Portland, as well as all six Judicate West offices in California
  • Receiving so many cases from former courtroom adversaries and competitors
  • Annual instructor at 35,000 member CLM School of Claims Mediation
  • Creating an MCLE-approved ADR program for 6 law firms, "Improving Your Mediation Outcomes: What Works and Why"


"He was very impressive. It was immediately noticeable that he is a very experienced mediator. Mr. Oster was compassionate and understanding with my client, which was important for the mediation and helped resolve the matter."
- Attorney on an Insurance Coverage dispute

"Mr. Oster very quickly grasped the key issues preventing resolution of the case, effectively communicated them to the other side, and suggested an imaginative way to work through the impasse."
- Attorney on a Personal Injury Auto case

"I can say with certainty in over 35 years of mediating cases, from the “star” mediators to retired judges, to high profile former litigators - you outperform everyone. "
- Attorney on an ERISA matter

"Mr. Oster served as a mediator and we were very pleased with the work he did on the case. Although we only had one in-person session with Mr. Oster, he issued a comprehensive mediator’s proposal and continued to follow up and work the case for nearly a year and a half following our session. I believe Mr. Oster’s work helped lay the ground work that ultimately settled the case."
- Attorney on a Wrongful Death Auto Matter

"Mr. Oster came up with creative solutions to appeasing a very recalcitrant party (I won’t say who!) and working out a solution that everyone was happy with."
- Attorney on a Business/Contractual Dispute

"Ed was masterful from start to finish and deserves top marks across the board. I couldn't have asked for a more personable, incisive and adept neutral."
- Attorney on an Insurance Bad Faith

"Ed was very helpful and effective at the mediation of my client and I were very pleased with everything he did for us."
- Attorney on an Insurance Coverage Dispute

"Patient & persistent."
- Attorney on an Insurance Bad Faith Matter

Read More

Experience Summary

Legal Career

  • Partner, Barger & Wolen, specializing in insurance and commercial cases (1990-2013)
  • Partner, Cummins & White (1988-1990)
  • Partner, Kranz & Oster, subsequently Oster, Schubert & Rutten (1983-1988)
  • Partner, Bruck, Kranz & Perry (1980-1983)
  • Associate, Cummins, White & Breidenbach, Breidenbach et al (1976-1980)
  • Court-appointed arbitrator, Orange County Superior Court
  • Judge Pro Tem, Orange County Superior Court

Education & Professional Affiliations

  • Stanford University, B.A., (1972)
  • University of California at Davis, King Hall, J.D. (1976)
  • Pepperdine School of Law, Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, "Mediating the Litigated Case" (6-day, 2013)
  • Negotiation Institute, Advanced Negotiations for Complex Litigation (2-day, 1988)
  • Orange County Superior Court, Mediation Panel
  • Orange County Bar Association, Member
  • State Bar of California, Member
  • Southern California Mediation Association, Member

Achievements & Awards

  • College of Claims Mediation, Instructor, Philadelphia, PA (2015, 2016, 2017)
  • American Conference Institute, "Alternative Dispute Resolution and Bad Faith Claims", San Francisco, (July 2014)
  • California State Bar Approved MCLE Provider, "Practice Tips for Better Mediation Results: What Works and Why"

Legal Experience

  • Insurance coverage
  • Insurance Bad Faith
  • Personal Injury
  • Commercial
  • Real Estate
  • Partnership Disputes
  • Professional Liability

Representative Case Information

Recent Representative Cases



  • Dispute involving conflicting ownership percentage claims among 35 law firm partners and compensation formula going forward, settled.
  • Out-of-network medical providers and assignees sought billed-rate reimbursement from health care insurer, consisting of both emergency and non-emergency services. Lead cases settled, establishing framework and formula for resolution of forthcoming claims.
  • Construction-support business co-managed by business associates whose relationship was hopelessly complicated by self-dealing, borrowing and lending between them and lessor/lessee relationship covering a substantial portion of the business assets — all without any written agreements. The cross-claims by the parties against each other approached seven figures on each side. The mediation produced a walk-away with one side making a modest contribution to payment of outstanding legal expenses for the other and a charitable donation.
  • Contractual dispute between a parts supplier and manufacturer of after-market off-road equipment. Despite apparent sophistication of the companies, neither fully realized that the relationship was fully governed by the UCC, whose impact had plusses and minuses for both sides. Negotiating in good faith with open minds and with an ongoing UCC tutorial being supplied by the mediator, the case settled to the complete satisfaction of both sides.


  • 4-party dispute brought under FINRA against financial advisors and brokerage firms concerning life insurance, guaranteed payments, vanishing premiums, and lump-sum payment/investment by octogenarian, settled in two parts, venue in Chicago, IL.



  • Health care coverage dispute concerning residential addiction treatment excluded under employer's policy but arguably mandated by federal law, conflicting out-of-circuit opinions, case of first impression overlay with continuing claims, replacement policy. Omnibus settlement.
  • Long term disability claim brought in federal court, ERISA status disputed, additional standard of review, scope of administrative record and waiver issues as well as disputed underlying disability, settled initially with reference to new IME, subsequent lump sum

Sexual Harassment

  • High-salaried plaintiff became one of many targets of sexual harassment after hiring of executive vice-president brought in to "save" the company. HR inaccurately claimed immediate investigation completely exonerated new VP, when the investigation hadn't taken place yet. Multiple other claimants started coming forward. The settlement will serve as a blueprint for pending cases.

Wage and Hour Class Action

  • Multi-million dollar class claims and penalties for failure to pay overtime, provide meal periods, rest periods, employee expense reimbursement and accurate wage statements, and including PAGA remedies. All claims resolved in two-phase resolution: initial phase open-ended, second phase closing claims period and providing finality.


Bad Faith

  • 3-party healthcare bad faith/coverage dispute for special needs patient through multiple private insurers, coverages, continuing claim issues, settlement preserving overlapping public benefits claim and avoiding reimbursement.
  • 4-party bad faith dispute arising out of additional insured status vis-a-vis construction site accident, concurrent implied indemnity and contribution issues, global settlement.
  • Individual disability claim bad faith dispute with choice of law overlay, settled, venue in Hartford, CN.
  • Owners of subchapter C corporation created tax-leveraged IRS Section 79 Life Insurance plan with $5 million in death benefits. Although the actual investment performance exceeded policy illustrations for non-guaranteeed benefits, defendants still potentially liable for breach of fiduciary duty and misrepresentation of guaranteed benefits. Case settled via re-work of existing policy values and modest injection of new money.


  • 7-party, 4 consolidated actions - underlying catastrophic worksite injury, breach of contract, contractual indemnity and declaratory relief coverage actions, multiple sessions, 6 months of post-session follow-up culminating in global settlement.
  • 3-party coverage dispute arising out of premises water damage, multiple policies and carriers with overlapping coverage and claims for property damage, business interruption and liability exposure, settled with high-low structure.
  • High-dollar individual disability policy dispute, initial payments followed by claim denial, subsequent admitted partial disability but continued fraud and non-cooperation defenses, Social Security and Medicare overlay, settled without jeopardizing continuing collateral sources.
  • Pre-litigation, 7-figure property damage claim for vandalism and theft with substantial uninsured component resolved reserving insured's third-party rights.
  • High six-figure life insurance policy proceeds prematurely distributed to new stepdaughter beneficiaries because of unilateral change of beneficiaries without knowledge of spouse/stepmother, the former beneficiary. Policy was community property and despite change of beneficiary, spouse/stepmother had rights to 1/2 of distribution under Nevada law if Nevada law applied. Case filed in California but the parties where domiciled in Nevada, Colorado and California. To obtain agreement of the parties it was necessary to reconcile the choice of law, conflict of laws and insurance law conflicts, as well as the longstanding family conflicts. Case resolved during mediation.
  • Successfully mediated a highly emotional, conflicting claims to 7-figure life insurance proceeds arising from underlying murder, kidnapping, and divorce.
  • Mediated 9-party fire loss across multiple condominiums caused by laser engraver operated in garage. Inadequate insurance resources to cover negligence, products liability and breach of CC&Rs claims. Settled by creating classes of claimants and defendants with pro-rata recovery in negotiated percentages.


  • Mediated severe jet aircraft damage claim caused by storm-toppled trees. Resolved negligence liability as well as indemnity and coverage disputes arising out of contract and co-insured status.

Real Estate

Real Property

  • Multi-party dispute involving real estate limited partnership for financing, acquisition, development and ownership of mixed-used retail and residential development. Conflicts involved 3 core disputes with multiple sub-parts. Key to successful resolution of what was becoming a prohibitively expensive litigation fiasco was breakdown into more than a dozen discreet components and serial resolution of those.
  • Community standing and culture overlay on pre-litigation dispute among Vietnamese businesswomen operating elder care facilities. Some form of buy-out and dissolution the best answer, but substantial cooperation needed from hostile parties to unwind transaction without severely jeopardizing the business assets, primarily real property and contracts but also goodwill and licensing. Community standing post-dissolution was as or more important than dollars involved. Dispute/dissolution fully resolved in half-day session.


Catastrophic Injury

  • Severe construction site injury, multiple defendants on res ipsa theory, liability disputed amongst defendants as well as dispute re LOE, multiple sessions, settled for slightly less than $2,000,000.

Policy Distribution

  • Tractor trailer going full speed plows into 6 vehicles, setting off chain reaction. Limited insurance limit informally offered only if all B/I and PD claims could settle simultaneously without litigation. Major complication was that lacking any discovery, none of the claimants knew of the degree of severity of other claims, so each demanded an over-sized share of the proceeds. Case settled in one session.