HON. RONALD S. PRAGER, RET.

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

Introduction

Judge Ronald Prager retired from the bench after completing 29 years of service. In his final 18 months on the bench, he served as an assigned judge on the Court of Appeal in San Diego and authored seven published opinions in civil cases. Before that, he spent 22 years as a civil independent calendar judge presiding over a broad spectrum of civil cases. Judge Prager became especially well known for handling complex matters, including the statewide coordinated tobacco class actions and the natural gas antitrust cases. Also in this capacity, he managed the calendars of more than 1,000 cases, including all law and motion matters and case management conferences.

Judge Prager's calendar included virtually every type of civil matter from routine personal injury cases to complex environmental and construction defect cases. He is highly regarded for his lawyer-friendly, efficient case management skills. For example, during his tenure and even in the most complex matters, Judge Prager was able to resolve most discovery disputes without formal briefing by consent of the parties.

Judge Prager acted as settlement judge in hundreds of cases, including employment, catastrophic injury, business disputes, partnership dissolutions, and discrimination cases. He routinely settled more than half of the cases in the early phases of trial, most of which had previously been mediated.

Experience Summary

Notable cases Judge Prager oversaw as a superior court judge

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Specialties

Testimonials

Judge Prager was instrumental in making a profound positive difference in my client's life. I was especially impressed that he visited the accident scene before the mediation. I will work hard to get a consensus to select Judge Prager as a mediator in my future cases
- Attorney on a Personal Injury Auto matter

Experience Summary

IN RE TOBACCO I AND II

Served as statewide trial coordination judge for dozens of tobacco related class actions. Approved 26 billion dollar California Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between big tobacco companies and State of California and other governmental entities. Served as trial judge in Marlboro Light cigarette class actions.


PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA V. R.J. RENOLDS TOBACCO COMPANY (RJR)

One of many enforcement actions brought by the California Attorney General under the MSA. Ruled that RJR violated the MSA prohibition against youth advertising.


IN RE NATURAL GAS ANTI-TRUST CASES I, II, III & IV

Served as trial coordination judge in class action pipeline cases alleging violation of California anti-trust laws by manipulation of California natural gas prices during the energy crises.. After several weeks of trial the case settled for over two billion dollars.


NORTH COAST WOMEN'S MEDICAL GROUP, INC. V. SUPERIOR COURT

Ruled that the Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibits physicians from withholding artificial insemination services to a Lesbian Patient.


BERNARDO V. PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION OF AMERICA

Granted anti-SLAPP motion against plaintiffs who were attempting to prevent Planned Parenthood from providing information that abortion was safe and requiring Planned Parenthood to inform patients that abortion increased the risk of breast cancer.


Legal Career

  • Mediator, Arbitrator, Private Judge (Present)
  • Assigned Judge, Court of Appeal (2015-2016)
  • Judge, Superior Court of San Diego (1989-2015)
  • Judge, El Cajon Municipal Court (1988-89)
  • California Deputy Attorney General, including last two years as Chief Attorney, Attorney General's Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Patient Abuse (1981-1988)
  • Enforcement Attorney, State of California Fair Political Practices Commission (1980-1981)
  • Legal Counsel, California Fair Political Practices Commission (1979-1980)
  • San Diego Deputy District Attorney (1970-1979)

Education & Professional Affiliations

  • Juris Doctor, University of Southern California School of Law (1969)
  • Bachelor of Arts, Pomona College, Claremont, California
  • Association of Business Trial Lawyers, executive committee, three multi-year terms.
  • Advisor Judge to State Bar of California Litigation section, 2004-2014
  • Master and member of the executive committee, Wallace Inn of Court, 2005-present

Achievements & Awards

  • Consumer Attorneys of San Diego, Judge of the Year (2016)
  • Presenter on trial procedure and practice at numerous seminars for lawyers sponsored by the American Bar Association, Association of Business Trial Lawyers, and various Inns of Court.
  • Co-author of Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Trial and Post Trial Civil Procedure, Consultant to CEB publication: California Summary Judgment, 2013, 2014, 2015.

Hobbies & Interests

In his spare time, Judge Prager enjoys spending time with his family and especially playing with his grandchildren. He enjoys aerobic exercise while watching sports on television.

Legal Experience

  • Business/Commercial
  • Employment
  • Environmental
  • Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith
  • Subrogation
  • Professional Malpractice
  • Real Estate
  • Tort

Representative Case Information

Recent Representative Cases

Employment

Discrimination

  • Employment/wage and hour case brought by an undocumented employee who worked two 8 hour shifts per day using two separate employee identities for several years to maximize his income. This arrangement enabled the employer to avoid paying time and a half and double-time pay and essentially allowed plaintiff to work two jobs for the same employer. Back wages and penalties for overtime pay was $60-70k. Defendants claimed that they easily could have hired an additional full time employee and only acceded to plaintiff's scheme to help him maximize his income and that he had unclean hands, which should limit or preclude his recovery. Employee sued both the corporation that employed him and its shareholders, husband and wife defendants, who had always kept the corporation finances separate from their personal assets. Whether the owners could be held personally liable and collectability of a judgment from the corporation, which was no longer in business and had limited assets, was debatable. Case settled in mediation.
  • Non-profit community organizer employer counseled and disciplined employee for tardiness and unexcused absences. Employee claimed retaliation because the employee had signed letter accusing employer of racism and also because employee refused to support embattled manager of a union sponsor of the employer who was publicly accused of sexual harassment. Employee obtained DFEH right to sue letter. Case settled before filing in Superior Court.

Real Estate

Land Slide

  • Real property dispute involving landslide in an area between two residences. A leaky PVC pipe feeding a swimming pool at a residence caused soil saturation, which led to a landslide affecting two residences. Each neighbor accused the other of causing the leak and supported its position with reports of geotechnical and civil engineering reports. Experts from both sides were present at the mediation. Each neighbor had made numerous non permitted improvements on their respective residences. Each neighbor was defended by its homeowners insurance carrier. After a full day of mediation, each party settled, one for mid six figures, the other for low six figures.

Real Property

  • This case involved claims of intentional fraud and negligent misrepresentations regarding alleged failure to disclose construction defects causing water intrusion in a multi-million dollar apartment complex. Specifically the case dealt with claimed refundability of the deposit in connection with the sale of the complex. Plaintiff buyer contended that the seller committed fraud and negligent misrepresentation by falsely representing that water intrusion problems were relatively insignificant and had been fixed, when in fact there were various construction defects causing substantial ongoing water intrusion problems. Defendant claimed that no untruthful representations were made, but in any event various disclosure documents that plaintiff received accurately reflected extent of the problems. The case did not settle at mediation, but was successfully resolved after numerous post mediation telephonic contacts.

Tort

Common Carrier

  • Personal Injury Admiralty: 68-year-old female passenger on a large vessel broke her femur. Plaintiff claimed that sudden sharp upturn in the vessel's deck during turbulence caused her femur to snap near the hip joint. Plaintiff was suffering from preexisting pain and numbness in the leg that broke. Defendant contended that the seas were calm, that any movements of the deck were foreseeable, and that the Plaintiff's inattentiveness caused her to fall. Defendant also denied plaintiff's contention that vessel's safety warnings to passengers were inadequate. Case settled in mediation.

PI Auto

  • This is a traumatic brain injury case (t.b.i.) wherein plaintiff walking on a sidewalk was struck by a car driven by a car dealership employee. Plaintiff suffered a closed head injury, a subdural hematoma. Plaintiff also received orthopedic injuries, including a rotator cuff injury and a knee injury. Plaintiff underwent successful shoulder surgery. Medical expenses, lost wages and future lost wages were factors. Plaintiff had suffered trauma in her life, including child abuse and a similar brain injury in a previous auto v. pedestrian accident 10 years prior. Plaintiff testified she had severe ongoing pain, claimed she needed to use a cane to walk, and testified in depo that she had to wear sunglasses in daylight. Defense produced a post-accident sub rosa video showing plaintiff walking briskly without a cane and not wearing sunglasses during the day. The case settled in mediation after a mediator's proposal.
  • This traumatic brain injury case involved a 20-year-old plaintiff who was running against a red light in a marked crosswalk, attempting to catch a bus. Defendant, a 20-year-old driver of a 2004 Chevy Malibu, was proceeding into the same intersection on a traffic light which had just turned green and did not brake before hitting plaintiff, causing plaintiffs body to fly high in the air and land in the intersection. Plaintiff suffered orthopedic injuries and a traumatic brain injury (t.b.i.), which necessitated his being placed in a 6 day drug induced coma. One eyewitness stated that defendant driver was speeding and inattentive just before impact. This case settled, pre-filing.

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