Judge Stormes served over two decades as a Federal Magistrate Judge in the Southern District of California, including five years as a Presiding Magistrate Judge. During that time, she presided over thousands of civil cases as a settlement judge, handling virtually every type of civil case filed in federal court, including Intellectual Property (Patent, Trademark, and Copyright), Employment Discrimination, Civil Rights, Consumer Class Actions, Real Property, Whistleblower/Retaliation, commercial disputes, bad faith insurance, personal injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice, Antitrust, Admiralty, and ERISA. Prior to her appointment as a Federal Magistrate Judge, Judge Stormes served for 16 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in San Diego, including five years as Chief of the Civil Division. In her role as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, she handled medical malpractice suits and other tort litigation against the United States Government, as well as Employment Discrimination, government contract litigation, and civil rights litigation involving its agencies and employees.

Drawing from her former judicial position, Judge Stormes brings a wealth of mediation experience to her role as a neutral at Judicate West. She has successfully worked to settle cases with a wide spectrum of parties ranging from major corporations to insurance representatives to injured victims. Her approach combines assertiveness in negotiation with compassionate listening, an even temperament, and a remarkable level of patience to guide the parties toward resolution. She finds immense satisfaction from resolving disputes and is relentless in her efforts to do so.

Judge Stormes stated, “I love the challenge and the satisfaction that comes with dispute resolution. It is a great pleasure for me to join Judicate West as a private neutral so I can continue to help litigants settle their disputes. Too often disappointed litigants walk out of a courtroom not understanding why they lost a case. My goal is to prevent that outcome by providing certainty, satisfaction, and closure to all parties.”

Practice Areas
  • Business/Contractual
  • Class Action
  • Civil Rights
  • Employment
  • Insurance
  • Intellectual Property
  • Maritime & Admiralty Law
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Patent
  • Personal Injury including Wrongful Death
  • Products Liability
Hobbies & Interests

Outside of work, Judge Stormes enjoys spending time with family and friends, surfing, swimming, skiing and hiking in Mammoth, and reading.

Legal Career
  • Full-time Neutral, Judicate West (2023-Present)
  • U.S. Magistrate Judge, Southern District of California (2000-2023); Presided over thousands of civil cases in every type of civil matter filed in federal court
  • Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of California; Worked in the civil division and specialized in medical malpractice (1983-1999)
  • Attorney, Sternberg, Eggers, Kidder & Fox; Specialized in medical malpractice and products liability (1982-1983)
  • Attorney, Jenkins & Perry; Specialized in medical malpractice and products liability (1980-1982)
  • Attorney, Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur; Specialized in medical malpractice and personal injury (1979-1980)
Education & Professional Affiliations
  • J.D., Duke University (1976-1979)
  • B.A., Ohio Wesleyan University (1972-1976)
  • Enright Inn of Court, Master
  • Association of Business Trial Lawyers (ABTL), Judicial Board of Governors
  • Federal Bar Association, San Diego Chapter
  • Lawyer’s Club
Achievements & Awards
  • U.S. Department of Justice Director’s Award for Excellence in Management
Below is a sampling of the various matters Hon. Nita L. Stormes, Ret. presided over on the bench, tried as an attorney, or handled as a neutral.

Consumer Class Action

  • Putative class action alleging a defect in manufacturer’s television sets caused them to fail prematurely.
  • Multiple Class actions involving false advertising of consumer products.


  • Suit for breach of contract and fraud arising out of plaintiff’s purchase of a helicopter from a bank overseas.
  • Suit by prime contractor against a subcontractor for allegedly supplying inferior pipes at a water reclamation facility.
  • Suit by owner of commercial buildings against tenant for failure to maintain roofs and HVAC on the buildings.
  • Suit against a global retailer alleging sale of infringing merchandise on their marketplace platform.


  • Multiple ERISA and state law cases alleging bad faith breach of insurance policies.
  • ERISA case brought by attorney following heart surgery alleging bad faith denial of benefits under long-term disability policy.


  • Gender discrimination and retaliation case brought by civilian employee of the Navy.

Sexual Harassment

  • Sexual harassment case involving a federal employee recovering from breast cancer surgery.

Wage and Hour Class Action

  • Multiple wage and hour class actions.
  • Class action involving alleged forced labor of immigration detainees.

Whistleblower Wrongful Term

  • As a judicial officer, adjudicated dozens of employment cases, including sexual harassment, hostile work environment, wrongful termination, and ADA failure to accommodate.
  • Whistleblower retaliation action by former bank employee alleging federal financial fraud and violations of state law. Countersuit alleging theft of confidential bank information and dissemination to the press causing stock price to plummet.

Wrongful Termination

  • Wrongful termination case involving an employee terminated while receiving medical treatment.


  • Suit by seaman aboard a fishing vessel injured while attempting to gain control of an unmanned speedboat.
  • Suit by longshoreman for crippling injuries suffered from a fall through an open grate on a barge.
  • Suit by seaman on a tuna fishing vessel for severe injuries sustained in fall on the deck of the vessel’s skiff.

Civil Rights

  • Numerous cases against governmental entities for shooting deaths and personal injuries arising out of encounters with federal and state law enforcement agents.
  • Case against the United States for damages arising out of detention and strip search of a female border crosser.
  • Series of cases against the Police Department and County arising out of arrests at a rally.
  • Civil rights/wrongful action arising out of fatal shooting of victim involved in a struggle with Harbor Police.

Class Actions

  • Class action involving strip search of visitors to federal prison.

Bad Faith

  • Suit against insurance company for alleged bad faith refusal to defend plaintiff in two state court lawsuits alleging sexual assault and false imprisonment.

IP Patent

  • Suit for infringement against pharmaceutical company by holder of multiple patents for blood screening technology.
  • Suit against competitor by holder of patent for medical device used during anesthesia.
  • Suit against competitor by holder of patented pump used to deliver IV medications.
  • Suit against competitor by skin care company holding patents on anti-aging cell technology.

IP Trademark

  • Trademark, copyright, and unfair competition case involving logo on furniture sold at a national wholesale retail company.

Medical Malpractice

  • Medical malpractice/wrongful death case against United States following routine surgery on a Navy veteran.
  • Medical malpractice case against United States for failure to properly monitor antibiotic levels causing permanent ear injury.
  • Medical malpractice/wrongful death case for failure to timely diagnose cancer.
  • Product liability case involving product used in hip replacement surgery.

Real Property

  • Series of condemnation cases brought by the County and State against the United States disputing what is “just compensation” for taking environmentally sensitive county and state park lands.
  • Series of San Diego fire cases triggered by a helicopter striking an electrical power line.

PI Auto

  • As a judicial officer, adjudicated hundreds of personal injury cases, including auto accidents, medical malpractice claims, and slip-and-falls.

Product Liability

  • Product liability case involving product used in urologic surgery.
I litigated significant discovery issues before Judge Stormes as a decision-maker and found her to be consistently fair, incisive, decisive, and balanced in her jurisprudence. I also mediated numerous cases with her acting as a settlement judge, including high stakes, complex pieces of litigation with multiple parties, difficult legal and factual issues, and challenging personal dynamics between the parties. She was always thoroughly prepared and masterful in her command of the issues. She gained the trust of all the parties and lawyers involved in those mediations and was very skillful in her approach to the negotiations. She was tenacious and artfully persistent in successfully forging settlements in cases that seemed to have no chance of being resolved. Her intellect, deep experience, savvy, and skills as a settlement judge made her extremely effective, and I expect she will continue setting a high bar as a private mediator. Whether as an arbitrator, discovery referee, or mediator, I would rank Judge Stormes at the top of any list for a neutral.
- Experienced Trial Lawyer Ranked 'Top 10 Attorney in San Diego' by San Diego Super Lawyers
Hon. Nita L. Stormes, Ret.
Based in San Diego | Available in Southern California
Mediation Case Manager: Susi Bush
Arbitration/Private Judging Case Manager: Heidi Adams