Cathy Yanni


Attorneys Fees
Bad Faith
Civil Rights
Class Action
Disability Rights
In-Camera Review
Intellectual Property
Mass Tort
Multi District Litigation
Personal Injury
Product Liability
Settlement Administration

Ms. Yanni serves as a Special Master/Discovery Referee by court appointment and agreement of the parties in both federal and state courts. In her role as a Special Master, she has structured the case management process, supervised discovery, as well as adjudicated motions regarding privilege and other substantive legal issues. As Settlement Special Master in large class actions and Multi District Litigation (MDLs), Ms. Yanni has designed, managed, and adjudicated settlement proceedings and fund allocation processes. As a Special Master/Discovery Referee, she has extensive electronic discovery experience supervising production of all types of electronic stored information (ESI).

Case List


  • Settlement Special Master: appointed MDL mediator by the Hon. Dan Polster, Northern District of Ohio, in Gadolinium Contrast Dyes Product Liability Litigation, involving settling MDL and state court cases involving allegations of catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death
  • Settlement Special Master: appointed by the Hon. Jack Weinstein, Eastern District of New York, to design and implement claims administration process and distribute $800 million dollar settlement in Zyprexa I, II matter
  • Settlement Special Master: appointed in Bextra MDL to allocate and distribute multi-million dollar settlement proceeds
  • Settlement Special Master: appointed in Ortho Evra MDL; designed and implemented allocation and distribution of multi-million dollar settlement proceeds to claimants
  • Settlement Special Master: appointed in Zicam I and II
  • Settlement Special Master: appointed by The Hon. Richard Kramer, SF Superior Court, in Gadolinium MDL proceedings; mediation and allocation settlement

Consumer Class Actions

  • Settlement Special Master: consumer class actions involving multiple high-tech companies, Apple,Toshiba, Palm: claims concerning operating systems, iPod nano, iTunes gift cards
  • Special Master: consumer class action against Wells Fargo bank involving trust accounts; designed and managed post-settlement and claim processing
  • Special Master: multiple consumer class actions against various high-tech computer companies, both U.S. and non-U.S. companies


  • E-Discovery Referee: multi-million dollar arbitration between venture capital company and multi-national conglomerate
  • Discovery Referee: high-tech dispute between manufacturer and supplier; issues involved trade secrets, patents, breach of contract, and delay claims
  • Discovery Referee: mid-sized family owned business; issues involved stock valuation, accounting, and attorney/client privilege
  • Discovery Referee: tow truck and body shop partnership; family business issues involved dissolution, valuation, highly charged emotional atmosphere 


  • Discovery Referee: individual claimant against large entertainment company; issues involved stock valuation and privilege; individual wrongful termination/sexual harassment claim against Fortune 500 Telecommunication Company
  • Discovery Referee: appointed by The Hon. Marilyn Hall Patel to oversee all aspects of discovery in a racial discrimination and sexual harassment case involving multiple plaintiffs
  • Special Master: numerous wage and hour cases involving allocation of settlement proceeds among class members

Intellectual Property

  • Discovery Referee: high-tech dispute between inventor and corporation; issues involved trade secrets, source code, attorney/client privilege, production of emails and other electronic data
  • Special Master: multi-party biotech dispute involving intellectual property, patent infringement, trade secrets, and anti-trust violations; issues concerning allegations of breach of attorney/client privilege; extensive electronic discovery issues


  • Special Master: class action against major utility company involving multiple governmental entities; conducted settlement negotiations with individual class members
  • Special Master: multi-party case involving a landfill on federal land near Lake Tahoe; parties included the Department of Forestry, City of South Lake Tahoe, Nevada and California counties, and multiple third parties

Personal Injury

  • Discovery Referee: maritime law wrongful death case; issues involved choice of law, attorney/client privilege
  • Discovery Referee: construction site wrongful death and brain injuries; oversaw all aspects of discovery including monitoring over 20 depositions


  • Special Master - Construction/Landslide: large multi-party neighborhood dispute; highly emotional issues involving continuing relationships, insurance coverage, nature and extent of repair and cost of repair
  • Special Master: large multi-party condominium defect case; issues involved critical path and insurance coverage

Honors Membership Awards

  • Recognized as a Top California Neutral, Daily Journal, 2003-2008, 2010-2011
  • Recognized as AV Preeminent, Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers
  • Woman of Achievement Award, Legal Momentum 2008
  • President and Board of Directors, Academy of Court-Appointed Masters (ACAM)
  • Board of Directors The American College of e-Neutrals (ACESIN)
  • Lecturer, Mediation and Negotiation, Stanford Law School, University of California Berkeley School of Law, University of San Francisco School of Law, Golden Gate Law School, Hastings College of the Law, University of San Diego School of Law
  • Sedona Conference: E-Discovery Dispute Resolution Program for Special Masters & Mediators
  • Conducts CLE seminars on ADR: Mediation, Negotiation, Ethics, Bias, Employment, Insurance, Special Masters and Referees, Intellectual Property, and e-Discovery


  • Panelist, JAMS, San Francisco, 1998-present
  • Discovery Referee, San Mateo County Superior Court 1994-1998
  • Litigation Partner, Low, Ball & Lynch 
  • Mediation Workshop Harvard Law School Program of Instruction for Lawyers
  • J.D.Golden Gate University School of Law; Editor, Law Review
  • B.A., Mount Holyoke College; Dartmouth College; Honors Commendation