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


Melissa draws upon more than 30 years of legal experience to resolve a variety of civil litigation matters including construction defect, all types of personal injury, landlord tenant and habitability matters. A part-time private mediator, arbitrator, and special master since 2010, she made the decision in 2016 to follow her passion and transitioned to full-time neutral work. She volunteered as an arbitrator, mediator and settlement judge for local courts before embarking on her private mediation practice. She has served as a judge pro tem and settlement officer for the Sacramento County Superior Court for over two decades and also frequently participates on educational seminars focused on dispute resolution topics.

Melissa’s friendly demeanor, combined with her direct and persistent approach, provides a sound foundation for the candid dialogue required to achieve resolution. Melissa has the insight and experience to efficiently identify issues and discern on a case-by-case basis how to get parties engaged to bring about resolution. Her goal is, “to try to bring to the negotiation table a distinct set of problem-solving skills that will assist the parties in resolving their disputes on their terms so that they can get back to what they care about most in their lives – their families, their businesses, their passions.”


Hobbies & Interests

In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, playing piano and guitar, listening to music, gardening, hiking, reading, and keeping up on national, state, and local political and cultural issues.

Experience Summary

Legal Career

  • Neutral, Judicate West (Present)
  • Mediator, Arbitrator & Private Judge, Aliotti Dispute Resolution (2010-Present)
  • DRC Officer, Dispute Resolution Conference, El Dorado Superior Court (2000-Present)
  • Appointed Mediator and Arbitrator, Sacramento County Superior Court (1998-Present)
  • MSC Judge Pro Tem, Department 59, Superior Court of Sacramento (1998-Present)
  • Partner, Read & Aliotti PC handling civil litigation: personal injury, landlord/tenant, habitability, construction, construction defect, sexual abuse, assault/battery, D&O, HOA (1997-2016)
  • Associate, Tennant Read & Dutra; Read & Dutra; Read, Dutra & Oates; Law Offices of Michael B. Read, handling civil litigation: personal injury, construction defect, D&O (1990-1997)
  • Associate, Mullen & Filippi, handling workers’ compensation defense (1988-1990)

Education & Professional Affiliations

  • J.D., Monterey College of Law (1987)
  • B. A., San Diego State University, Political Science and Sociology (1983)
  • Dispute Resolution Training (100+ hours), Pepperdine University School of Law/Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, American Bar Association, and Sacramento County Bar Association (2010-Current)
  • American Bar Association (1987-Current)
  • Association of Defense Counsel of NorCal and Nevada (1980-Current), Board of Directors (2006-2011)
  • Sacramento County Bar Association (ADR, Construction, Litigation) (1990-Current)
  • National Association of Women in Construction (2011-2014)

Achievements & Awards

  • Named, “Top Lawyer”, by Sacramento Magazine (2016-Present)
  • AV-Rated Preeminent (Martindale-Hubbell)
  • Recipient, President’s Award, Association of Defense Counsel of Northern California and Nevada (2011)

Legal Experience

  • All types of Construction Disputes
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Personal Injury
  • Product Liability
  • Real Estate

Representative Case Information

Recent Representative Cases


Constr. Defect/Real Property

  • Plaintiff’s single family home vacation rental property was allegedly damaged when a construction company crushed a sewage line, resulting in backflow into the residence and damage to finishes and systems, necessitating mitigation, demolition, remediation, and ultimately reconstruction. Case settled in the middle 6-figures, including lost rent and rental opportunities, for which coverage was disputed.

Construction Breach Of Contract

  • Brought in as third Special Master to settle a residential construction defect litigation action involving 30+ plaintiffs and 25+ contractor entities. The causes of action at issue were products liability, breach of contract, professional negligence and insurance coverage.

Construction Defects

  • Served as Discovery Referee in a commercial construction defect case involving a Native American tribe and the contractors involved in the construction of their casino establishment. Disputes involved the intersection and application of tribal, state, and federal laws.
  • Public entity sued the suppliers and installers of an underground utilities system, due to alleged failure. Various elements of the infrastructure were adversely affected. The case ultimately settled in the 7-figure range, requiring the resolution of claims involving SIRs, surety bonds, coverage, and excess insurance.


General Negligence

  • An entire residential neighborhood of senior citizens sued a national retailer who was developing a lot for a new store. Plaintiffs alleged that the noise and vibrations from the construction activities caused damage to their homes. The defendant disputed causation. Case resolved with confidential terms to everyone’s satisfaction.

Personal Injury

  • Part-time, temporary construction laborer fell at job site and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. He was deemed to be permanently disabled from his injuries. Liability and causation were disputed. Resolution of this case was dependent upon identification of and participation by the appropriate employer and insurer(s) for workers compensation as well as general liability. The dispute was further complicated by multiple cross-complaints arising from indemnity contracts. After two mediation sessions, the case settled, followed by WCAB approval.

PI Auto

  • Plaintiff bus driver injury case, complicated by multiple prior mental and physical conditions, and workers compensation. Mediation resulted in a settlement of all issues.

Downtown Los Angeles

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

Los Angeles Mediation

West Los Angeles

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

Mediators Los Angeles

San Diego

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

San Diego Mediation

Santa Ana

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

Orange County Mediation

San Francisco

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

San Francisco Mediation


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

Sacramento Mediation