Neutral Profile



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


Herman Papa is a highly experienced trial attorney representing both plaintiffs and defendants for over 40 years in state and federal court.

Since 2006, he has dedicated his career to serving as a Neutral in all types of serious personal injury cases and landlord-tenant litigation, real estate contract litigation, employment law cases, commercial contract litigation, professional liability and government entity litigation.

Leading members for both plaintiff and defense trial bars have been profuse in their expressions of confidence and satisfaction of Mr. Papa's genuine insight, patience and skill in grasping the key issues of their cases, understanding the position of their clients and showing outstanding skill at motivating parties to collaborate for successful settlement of their disputes.

One leading trial lawyer said "Mr. Papa was able to assist the parties in resolving our case using his persuasive demeanor, his ability to get to the heart of the matter, and his tremendous knowledge and experience of the reality of the courtroom."

Practice Areas

ADR Highlights

  • BASF MCLE Panel Presentation - "Mediation Strategy - What Gets Cases Settled?" - 2016,2017
  • Panelist in Thomson/Reuters/West Legal Education Center's Webcast series for the CA Bar - "Strategies in Mediation that Work" - 2015,2016.
  • Read More

Hobbies & Interests

Golf, cycling, educational and non-profit advisory work.


ADR Highlights

  • BASF MCLE Panel Presentation - "Mediation Strategy - What Gets Cases Settled?" - 2016,2017
  • Panelist in Thomson/Reuters/West Legal Education Center's Webcast series for the CA Bar - "Strategies in Mediation that Work" - 2015,2016.
  • Daily Journal Profile - "mediator of choice to put out litigation fires" - 2012
  • Named as one of top 6 choices as "Best Individual Mediator" via BASF Survey for the Recorder Legal News publication and - 2012

Experience Summary

Legal Career

  • Law Offices of Herman D. Papa, a plaintiff trial practice representing clients for personal injury damages (1982-2009)
  • Associate, Boccardo, Blum, Niland, Teerlink & Bell, plaintiff trial practice in products liability, aviation, Jones Act, FELA, LHWA cases, construction defect cases, medical and dental malpractice cases (1967-1982)
  • Deputy City Attorney, City & County of San Francisco, defense practice focused in civil litigation involving public property, Municipal Railway, school property, police and firefighter conduct, public school supervision, Juvenile Court proceedings.

Education & Professional Affiliations

  • BA University of San Francisco (1958)
  • J.D. Lincoln University Law School (1963
  • Approved Neutral Arbitrator, Kaiser Permanente (2014 -present)
  • Certified Arbitrator Bar Association of San Francisco (2014-present)
  • Rosenberg school of Dispute Resolution, Intensive Mediation Training (2006)
  • Bar Association of San Francisco Mediation Services Panel (2006-present)
  • Mediation Services Panel San Francisco Bay Area Superior Courts
  • American Board of Trial Advocates
  • CA State Bar
  • Consumer Advocates of CA
  • San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association

Achievements & Awards

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution, Northern California Super Lawyers (2020)

Legal Experience

  • All types of personal injury cases including private and governmental parties
  • Professional, medical dental and legal malpractice
  • Product liability
  • Premises liability
  • Motor vehicle accidents including highway design defect
  • Construction defect cases resulting in personal injury
  • Property damage
  • Commercial contract
  • Real estate contract
  • Employment law
  • Elder Abuse
  • Probate, trust and estate

Representative Case Information

Recent Representative Cases


Complex Commercial

  • Commercial bank loan litigation, loan dispute, counterclaim for fraud, reformation of contract.
  • Major commercial contract dispute, fraud allegations, substantial contract damages, punitive damage allegations - confidential settlement


  • Attorney/client fee dispute, dispute of terms of HOA contract, attorney malpractice, State Bar ethics violation charges - confidential settlement.
  • Atty/client fee dispute, breach of HOA agreement, attorney malpractice, charges of State Bar ethics violations. Confidential settlement.
  • Lawsuit by private creditor-lender for real estate investment seeking repayment of loan. Allegations of fraud against real estate broker-borrower.
  • Atty/client fee dispute, collection of unpaid attorney's fees for probate work, counterclaim for attorney malpractice.
  • HOA seeking 15 months of unpaid rent and HOA dues from condominium owner displaced from her home by a flood in the building. Home owner's insurance did not extend to rental abatement. Cause of flood undetermined leaving owner without tort C/A against overhead flood units and HOA. HOA proceeding against owner on theory of oral contract to rent replacement unit. Owner denying terms of agreement of any agreement at all. HOA proceeds with an eviction. Owner cross-complaining for damages for wrongful eviction asserting violation of the SF Rental Ordinance and seeking treble damages against HOA under terms of the Ordinance. Six participating law firms, allegations and multiple cross-allegations by way of cross complaint. Matter resolved in mediation.
  • Plaintff, a nationwide staffing agency of temporary employees based in New York brought suit against former President and several managers of its West Coast franchise alleging theft of trade secrets, breach of fiduciary duties, fraud and concealment, unfair competition, intentional and negligent interference with prospective economic advantage, unjust enrichment. Plaintiff sought monetary damages and declaratory relief. Defendants who were managing agents of Plaintiff's San Francisco office surreptitiously formed a new corporation and set up a new office under a new and different business name 30 days prior to resigning their employment with Plaintiff.


Construction Defects

  • Multi-party construction contract litigation, performance default, loan foreclosure, multi cross-complaints for indemnity.


Whistleblower Wrongful Term

  • Attorney malpractice, employment law/wrongful termination, State Bar ethics violations. Confidential Settlement.
  • Plaintiff here was a chemical engineer who claimed he was fired for reporting unsafe work conditions to the California OSHA. Defendant employer alleged that Plaintiff's work was sub-standard for his level of pay and unprofessional in his work habits endangering the health and safety of other employees. Plaintiff asserted that the defense was simply a pretense for his termination because the company was failing. Plaintiff alleged that his firing resulted in disparagement of his professional reputation thereby depriving him of opportunity to obtain employment in his field resulting in further loss of income and damages for emotional distress. He asserted a theory of defamation. The case was settled after 2 lengthy mediation sessions and extensive follow up by email and phone conference.

Wrongful Term & Discrimination

  • Employment law, wrongful termination, racial discrimination, sexual harassment, punitive damages.
  • Mediated to successful conclusion claim by auto sales associate of wrongful termination based upon alleged sexual harassment of female manager. Plaintiff asserted theories of unlawful firing on the bases of race and violation of public policy. He also asserted improper calculation of sales commissions. Defendants asserted that Plaintiff violated written company policy in gender misconduct against this defense. Plaintiff asserted the theory of pretense. The litigation was quite contentious with much bad blood and emotion given the alleged racial overtones. Settlement was reached after a lengthy mediation session and extensive follow up efforts via phone conferencing.

Wrongful Termination

  • Plaintiff is a prominent, high profile tennis professional who was the acting Director of Tennis at Defendant Country Club. Plaintiff was terminated under alleged grounds of failing to carry out her duties as outlined in the Country Club employment policy manual and for alleged offensive behavior in dealing with Club members. Plaintiff alleged retaliation by Club management for an alleged altercation with a prominent male Club member who verbally threatened Plaintiff with physical harm during a heated argument over his failure to be granted a contract for resurfacing of the tennis courts. Plaintiff further alleged defamation of her professional reputation by Defendant Club management. Defendants included the Country Club employer, the male Club member and his wife individually and the male Club member’s construction company.


Property Damage

  • Property damage claim against auto manufacturer for manufacturing design defect, component parts defense.

Professional Malpractice

Professional Malpractice Legal

  • Attorney malpractice alleged by Plaintiff for failure to file timely demand for arbitration of UM Claim allowing expiration of S/Ls. Policy limits demand for settlement by Plaintiff. Brain injury claimed by Plaintiff with extensive medical special damages including .treatment and neuropsychiatric testing. Complex medical evidence disputed by defendant.
  • Allegations of professional negligence based upon failure to file timely claim in UM case. Orthopedic injuries and closed head brain injury resulting in lengthy treatment for symptoms of TBI to 48 y/o married mother of 3 children. Case negotiated to impasse at full day mediation due to considerable complications with outstanding medical liens. Case concluded with persistent post session mediation services by Mediator Papa urging parties to work on clarifying lien issues and finally considering a Mediator's Proposal. Additional follow up mediation services were needed for negotiation of confidentiality clause in settlement agreement.
  • Highly contentious legal malpractice case involving family dispute over alleged inheritance of real estate and family business.


General Negligence

  • Traumatic brain injury case asserting negligent supervision of bar, restaurant, dance club, 11 parties in interest, multiple cross-compiaints.

Personal Injury

  • Traumatic brain injury, premises liability, commercial entertainment venue, substantiai damages.
  • Auto collision, supermarket parking lot. Complaint for bodily injuries and permanent disability.

PI Assault and Battery

  • Premises liability, commercial entertainment venue, public entity liability, substantial damages, punitive damages, multi-party cross-complaints.
  • Premises liability, negligent handling of troublesome customer, traumatic brain injury, skull fracture, substantial damages.

PI Auto

  • MVA litigation seeking personal injury damages.
  • MVA, Plaintiff lawsuit seeking personal injury damages.
  • Motor vehicle - pedestrian injury lawsuit. Plaintiff seeking bodily injury damages, loss of income.
  • Public entity liability, highway design defect, substantial personal injury damages.
  • Injury to child on private school premises, personal injury damages of minor.
  • Governmental entity liability. Design defect of State highway. Severe multiple injuries and permanent disability of Plaintiff.
  • MVA for bodily injury damages. Allegations of comparative negligence.
  • Auto/motorcycle collision, negligence, comparative negligence, bodily injury damages.
  • MVA bodily injuries, special and general damages, comparative negligence.
  • Death case involving auto/pedestrian with limited insurance coverage. Settlement terms negotiated with future payment schedule from personal assets of defendant and security documentation.
  • Case involved emotionally charged atmosphere as Plaintiff/Attorney was faced with defense evidence that would jeopardize his license if turned over to the State Bar. Plaintiff's attorney had client control difficulty. The mediation atmosphere was highly charged and demanded carefully controlled communications by the Mediator.
  • Plaintiff, a self-employed businessman as a part-time film producer injured neck and back in solo auto accident while purchasing an exotic Lamborghini. Car flipped while taking Plaintiff on a test drive with defendant. VP driving at excessive speed. Plaintiff presented challenge during negotiations because of control issues with his attorney and wanting to make his own decisions without advice from others.

Premises Liability

  • The case involved neck and back injuries to a veteran firefighter. She had an exemplary record as a firefighter for 23 years. However, she had several injuries in her past which produced significant damage to her muscular/skeletal system. She had chronic spondylosis of her cervical spine though asymptomatic. The present accident though seemingly modest in impact produced disabling symptoms to plaintiff's neck and back preventing her from meeting the heavy requirements of a firefighters duties. The injuries necessitated a change in job assignment producing symptoms of depression superimposed upon the neck and back pain. In addition, the accident virtually disqualified her from job promotion to Lieutenant and a large pay increase. The case was highly contentious.

Product Liability

  • Product liability, negligence, multi-party cross/complaints, catastrophic injuries, multiple defenses.
  • Traumatic amputation of thumb and finger dominant hand design defect and breach of warranty allegations.

Wrongful Death

  • Governmental entity and private party liability alleging premises liability, design defect and negligence of multiple defendants. Catastrophic injuries, permanent disability.
  • Case of complex medical causation issues. Plaintiff was a 42-year-old with chronic pre-existing degenerative spine and right hip seeking to recover damages in present lawsuit for aggravation of pre-existing condition resulting in surgery to replace right hip and future surgery to stabilize fractured L-3 vertebra.