Picture of Steven M. Vartabedian

Steven M. Vartabedian

Of Counsel
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Phone: (559) 432-4500

8080 North Palm Avenue, Third Floor
Fresno, California 93711

Steve has been with Dowling Aaron's ADR and Appellate Practice Groups since June 2010 following 29 years of judicial experience. Starting in 1981, he served at every level of California judicial system, adjudicating matters across the entire spectrum of types of actions. While the 180 published appellate opinions he authored demonstrate the breadth of matters he has handled, he has a particular depth of experience in cases alleging serious personal injury and product defect, including those involving claims of punitive damages. He also has a strong background in real estate and construction litigation, employment law, medical services contracts, probate matters, and agricultural disputes. As both a trial and appellate judge, he has assisted many parties in settling their disputes prior to adjudication.

Since 2010 as a dispute resolution neutral, Steve has regularly served as a mediator, arbitrator and referee.  He has been particularly effective in mediating and resolving a high volume of challenging cases that have allowed the parties to avoid the costs and uncertainties of public trial.  


J.D., Santa Clara University, School of Law, 1975
magna cum laude

B.A., California State University, Fresno, 1972

Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice

California, 1975

Judicial Service

Associate Justice, California Court of Appeal, Fifth District, 1989-2010.
Associate Justice by assignment, California Supreme Court, March 2005.
Judge, Fresno Superior Court, 1987-1989.
Judge, Fresno Municipal Court, 1983-1987. (Presiding Judge, 1985-1987).
Judge, Sanger Justice Court, 1981-1983. 

Representative Publications

Yarick v. Pacificare, (2009) 179 Cal.App.4th 1158. (Contractual structure of Medicare Advantage Program)
Baker Manock & Jensen v. Superior Court (2009) 175 Cal.App.4th 1414. (Probate attorney disqualification overruled)
UAS Management v. Mater Misericordiae Hospital (2008) 169 Cal.App.4th 357. (Anti trust: tying arrangement)
Johnson v. Ford Motor Co. (2005) 135 Cal.App.4th 137. (Lemon law case : punitive damages limited)
Horsford v. CSU Trustees (2005) 132 Cal.App.4th 359. (Employment discrimination, damages & attorney fees)
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. v. City of Fresno (2005) 127 Cal.App.4th 914. ( In lieu utility fee stricken)
Sweat v. Big Time Auto Racing (2004) 117 Cal.App.4th 1301. (Defective bleachers unaffected by release agreement)
Romo v. Ford Motor Co. (2003) 113 Cal.App.4th 738. (Wrongful death: punitive damages limited)
Maples v. Kern Assessment Appeals Bd.(2002) 103 Cal.App.4th 172. (Fair market assessment of oilfield: $3.56 billion)
Romo v. Ford Motor Co. (2002) 99 Cal.App.4th 1115. (Corporate malice justified punitive award)
Thompson v. Tracor Flight Systems (2001) 86 Cal.App.4th 1156. (Constructive discharge based on pattern of harassment)

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

California Bar—1975-1983, 2010-present.
U.S. District Court, Eastern District—1975-1983, 2010-present.
Fresno County Bar Association—1975-1983, 2010-present.
American Bar Association—1976-1983.
California Judges Association—1981-1992.
Association of Conflict Resolution, Central California Chapter—2010-present.