Nickolas J. DibiasoOf Counsel
Nick’s broad experience, first as a trial attorney, next as a trial court judge, and then as an appellate justice, uniquely qualifies him to serve as a dispute resolution neutral in all capacities — as a mediator, arbitrator, special master, temporary judge, and referee — in wide variety of matters, including construction, corporate, agricultural, probate and trust, securities, restraint of trade, personal injury, and labor and employment.
As a mediator, Nick helps disputing parties avoid the unpredictability of court proceedings by working directly with the parties to negotiate voluntary, mutually satisfactory solutions to the controversy.
As an arbitrator, special master, referee, and temporary judge, Nick helps disputing parties avoid the expense and time consumption of court proceedings by serving as an impartial decision–maker who uses a variety of innovative means to efficiently and effectively resolve the controversy.
As the chair of Dowling Aaron Incorporated’s Appeals and Writs department, Nick provides counseling to companies and individuals with respect to proceedings in the federal and state appellate courts.
J.D., Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, 1968
B.A., Santa Clara University , 1965
History, Magna Cum Laude
United States Army
(Active Duty 1968-1970)
Jurisdictions Admitted to PracticeCalifornia, 1969
U. S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, 1971
U. S. Supreme Court , 1972
Various U. S. District Courts
U. S. Tax Court , 1972
Nick has acted as a neutral in a broad variety of cases, such as breach of contract claims, construction project disputes, real estate transactions, property ownership matters, insurance coverage issues, medical malpractice claims, legal malpractice claims, accounting malpractice claims, public retirement system controversies, condemnation valuation questions, wrongful death and personal injury claims, employment controversies, partnership and corporate governance and dissolution disputes, shareholder derivative claims, trade secret disputes, hospital governance matters, unfair competition claims, probate and trust controversies, and workers compensation matters. Many cases have involved multiple parties with conflicting positions. The amounts in controversy have ranged from tens of thousands of dollars to millions. As examples, Nick has acted as a mediator in a multi-million dollar wrongful death case arising out of the crash of a private airplane, as a plenary referee in a dispute involving the dissolution of a 60 million dollar real estate development partnership, as a discovery referee in a breach of contract and breach of warranty case involving the sale of an automated dairy milking system, in which a 20 million dollar damage claim was made against numerous defendants (including United Kingdom and Netherlands corporations), as a mediator in a multi-million dollar construction defect case involving more than 10 parties (including insurance carriers), as a mediator in a dispute involving an alleged 20 million dollar shortfall in the unfunded liabilities of a public employee retirement system, as an arbitrator in a breach of contract dispute between two credit unions in connection with the sale and repurchase of a 5 million dollar sub-prime mobile home loan pool, as both a mediator and a plenary referee in the dissolution of an agricultural corporation where the claims in issue exceeded 4 million dollars, and as an arbitrator in a 100 million dollar claim brought by a Federal regulatory agency against an international business firm. Nick is a member of the American Arbitration Association’s Judges Panel, Large Complex Case panel, Commercial Case panel, and Construction Case panel. Nick is available nationwide.
Judge, Superior Court of California, County of Fresno (1985-1989; Appellate Department
1986-1989; Presiding Judge 1987-1989)
Justice Pro-Tem, California Supreme Court (January 1999)
Representative Publications and Presentations
Representative Opinions: Farris v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Co. 119 Cal.App4th 671; Lauren H. v. Kannappan 96 Cal.App.4th 834; Lewis C. Nelson & Sons v. Clovis Unified School Dist. 90 Cal.App.4th 64; Sonora Diamond Corp. v. Superior Court 83 Cal.App.4th 523; Hill v. City of Clovis 63 Cal.App.4th 434; Voss v. Superior Court 46 Cal.App.4th 900; Wurts v. County of Fresno 44 Cal.App.4th 380; Brantley v. Pisaro 42 Cal.App.4th 1591; Miranda v. National Emergency Services, Inc. 35 Cal.App.4th 894; S. C. Anderson, Inc. v. Bank of America 24 CalApp4th 529; Estate of Woodworth 18 Cal.App.4th 936; Miranda v. Shell Oil Co. 17 Cal.App.4th 1651; Hartwig v. Zacky Farms 2 Cal.App.4th 1550; Hydratec, Inc. v. Sun Valley 260 Orchard & Vineyard Co. 223 Cal.App. 3d 924; Shannon v. Superior Court 217 Cal.App.3d 986; Twain Harte Associates, Ltd. v. County of Tuolumne 217 Cal.App.3d 71; St. Paul Ins. Co. v. Industrial Underwriters Ins. Co. 214 Cal.App.3d 117.
Adjunct Faculty, San Joaquin College of Law, Antitrust and Trade Regulation Law (1979-1983)
California Judicial Council Appellate Advisory Committee (1998)
California Judicial Council Advisory Committee on Voir Dire (1988)
Lecturer and panel member for federal and state civil litigation, discovery, trial practice, appellate practice, and substantive law educational programs sponsored by a variety of organizations, including the California Judicial College, the Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER), the California Bar Association, the Construction Specifications Institute, the Associated General Contractors of California, the Rutter Group, the California Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB), the San Joaquin College of Law, the Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District, the American Arbitration Association, and the Bar Associations of Fresno, Kern, Stanislaus, Tulare, Merced, Kings, Madera, Mariposa and Tuolumne counties.
Professional Affiliations & Memberships
California Academy of Appellate Lawyers (2007-present)
Fresno County Bar Assn (1970-1985, 2006-present; Board of Directors and Treasurer 1976-1977)
California Judges Assn (1985-1990)
Board of Trustees, Fresno County Law Library (1986-1989; President, 1988-1989)
Advisory Council, American Arbitration Assn. (Los Angeles Region 1982-1985)
American Arbitration Assn, Approved Arbitrator, Construction and Commercial Panels (1976-1985); Construction, Commercial, Long Complex Case and International Panels (2007-present)
American Arbitration Assn, Distinguished Service Award, 1990)
Martindale AV rating