Following a successful 37-year career litigating personal injury, product liability, and medical malpractice cases, Sean brings his negotiation, communication, and legal skills to his role as a neutral.

He began his legal career with an insurance defense firm and later transitioned to the plaintiff side as a partner of Thielen and Burke until forming his own firm in 1998. As a litigator, he resolved over 500 cases for his clients, most involving mediation to reach a resolution. He also volunteered with the Los Angeles Superior Court's Alternative Dispute Resolution program and mediated well over 50 cases.

Through his experiences, he has concluded that the mediation process is a much more efficient and much less costly (financially and emotionally) method for resolving disputes.

He describes his approach to alternative dispute resolution stating, “I believe in listening to the parties to determine their ultimate goals and desires in the case and using creative techniques to assist them in reaching those goals. I firmly believe in the "process" of mediation and feel that every case is amenable to that process.”

Practice Areas
  • Elder Care Law
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Personal Injury including Wrongful Death
  • Product Liability
Hobbies & Interests

Sean enjoys photography, cycling-both road, and mountain, all water sports, skiing, and mountain hiking in the Sierras and Teton Mountains, as well as spending time with his wife and three adult children.

Legal Career
  • Full-time Neutral, Judicate West (2023-Present)
  • Founder, Burke Law, APC (1998-2023)
  • Mediator, Los Angeles Superior Court ADR Panel (2004-2009)
  • Partner, Thielen and Burke; Specialized in Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury, Product Liability, and Legal Malpractice for Plaintiff (1988-1998)
  • Attorney, Law Offices of Joseph Thielen; Specialized in Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury, Product Liability, and Legal Malpractice for Plaintiff (1985-1988)
  • Ellis, McGarry, and Laufenberg; Specialized in Insurance Defense (1979-1981)
Education & Professional Affiliations
  • J.D., MBA, University of Southern California (1977-1981)
  • B.A., Pre-Law, Magna Cum Laude, University of Southern California (1971-1976)
  • Mediating the Litigated Case, Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution - Pepperdine (2004)
  • American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Associate (Member Since 2009)
  • ABOTA Foundation, Legacy – Patriot
  • ABOTA, Orange County Chapter, National Board Representative
  • Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC), Member
  • Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA), Member
  • Orange County Trial Lawyers Association (OCTLA), Member
  • American Association for Justice (AAJ), Member
  • Orange County Bar Association, Member
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association, Member
  • Long Beach Bar Association, Member
Achievements & Awards
  • Joseph D. McNeil Civility Award, ABOTA, Orange County Chapter (2020)
  • Top Gun Trial Lawyer of the Year Award for Medical Malpractice, OCTLA (2005, 2014, 2019)
  • Southern California Super Lawyers (2005-Present)
  • Best Lawyers in America (1990-Present)
Below is a sampling of the various matters Sean Burke, Esq. handled as a practicing attorney or neutral.

Medical Malpractice

  • Represented a young boy who was given the wrong dosage of anti-seizure medication by a pharmacy and it caused Stevens-Johnson syndrome and blindness.
  • Represented a 51-year-old woman who suffered a seven-month delay in diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer and underwent a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation.
  • Represented the parents of a young man who died after a radiologist perforated a major artery during insertion of a catheter to deliver dye to his heart.
  • Represented the husband of a woman who died after a respiratory therapist attempted to extubate her while she was heavily sedated and unable to breathe on her own. She was then negligently monitored and asphyxiated, suffering severe brain damage from which she never recovered.
  • Represented a woman who suffered a spinal cord injury during an epidural steroid injection.
  • Represented a man who suffered a spinal cord injury from a delay in diagnosis of a spinal hematoma.
  • Represented a woman who suffered severe physical injuries to her genital organs as a result of a negligently managed birth process and a delay in recognizing the need for a C-section.
  • Represented a man who fell from an operating room table during a hernia surgery and suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result.
  • Represented a man who underwent a kidney removal surgery for kidney cancer and the surgeon removed the wrong kidney, leaving the cancerous kidney. The surgeon, assistant surgeon and primary care provider then concealed the fact they had removed the wrong kidney.
  • Represented a young aspiring boxer who underwent knee surgery and the orthopedic surgeon operated on the wrong knee, causing the patient to have to give up his boxing career.
  • Represented a young girl who developed sudden ischemia in her leg within an hour of birth and then suffered a delay in diagnosis and treatment of the ischemia leading to amputation of her leg at 5 days old.
  • Represented the family of a young hip hop artist who underwent surgery and was negligently monitored which allowed him to aspirate and he died as a result.
  • Represented a young girl who was born with only half a brain and we proved that the injury was due to her mother’s obstetrician striking her in the head during an amniocentesis.
  • Represented a young girl who suffered severe brain damage as a result of a delay in performing a C-section leading to anoxic brain damage and severe hypoxia.
  • Represented the family of a young man who overdosed and died in a transitional living facility when the people managing the home failed to appreciate that he had the signs and symptoms of an overdose and failed to get him to emergency care.
  • Represented a young girl who suffered shoulder dystocia, Erb’s Palsy and hypoxia when her mother’s obstetrician failed to respond to the nurses’ call to come to the hospital to deliver her and another OB had to step in and deliver her emergently.
  • Represented a man who lost his penis following a penile implant procedure that developed an infection and the urologist failed to appreciate the infection until it was too late to save the tissues. The urologist then completely altered his records to delete any indication that there were signs of an infection.
  • Represented a young boy who suffered permanent brachial plexus paralysis following a traumatic birth and vacuum assisted delivery in a baby who was known to have shoulder dystocia.
  • Represented a 70-year-old man who suffered severe brain damage during a dental procedure to remove a molar when the oral and maxillofacial surgeon negligently anesthetized and monitored his patient.
  • Represented a 58-year-old woman who lost her eye following a sinus surgery to remove polyps and the surgeon negligently perforated the globe of the eye.
  • Represented a family from Mainland China, whose mother and wife came to Southern California to give birth to her second child. Although the birth went smoothly, the mother started bleeding profusely and died.
  • Represented a 36-year-old man who went to an optometrist who failed to recognize test findings showing early signs of glaucoma. 10 months later, an ophthalmologist diagnosed him with severe vision loss due to progressive glaucoma.

Catastrophic Injury

  • Represented a construction worker who was crushed against a block wall when a delivery driver lost control of a roll-off trash bin.
  • Represented a woman who was injured at a city-sponsored picnic and concert when a city employee lost control of a cart full of tables, causing the tables to fall on the woman from behind and causing neck and back injuries.

PI Auto

  • Represented a woman who was struck in a crosswalk and suffered multiple broken bones and a head injury.

PI Bicycle

  • Represented a bicyclist who was struck by a motorist who was lost and drove through the bike lane to make a turn in an intersection.

Premises Liability

  • Successfully tried a case against a fast-food restaurant for a Marine MP who was on leave and was shot at one of their restaurants which had become a hangout for high schoolers of rival high schools in Carson on Friday nights after football games and which had multiple violent incidents and no response from management.
  • Represented a woman who slipped and fell on a wet walkway outside a hospital injuring her knee and requiring surgery.
  • Represented a woman who slipped and fell on spilled rice in a grocery store and sustained serious injuries to her legs and back.

Product Liability

  • Represented a young man who suffered traumatic brain injury as a result of a defective seatbelt that failed after an accident.
  • Represented an actress playing the part of a fairy godmother who was on a swing flying over and around the stage when a defective chip in the computer controller for the swing failed and the swing fell 25 feet to the stage causing a permanent spinal cord injury.
  • Represented a woman who sustained serious burns when a bio-ethanol tabletop fireplace tipped over and spilled all over her and ignited.

Wrongful Death

  • Represented a family whose mother and daughter died in an apartment fire which had expired smoke alarms and other safety measures which were negligently maintained.
  • Represented the family of a young man who was killed while riding a motorcycle and hit a car which had turned left in front of him.
Sean Burke, Esq. is a great lawyer, and now he's also an excellent mediator and an asset to Judicate West. It was a pleasure working with Sean to resolve the case.
- Attorney on an Elder Abuse Wrongful Death Case
Sean Burke is an excellent mediator. Very professional and courteous. He is highly recommended.
- Attorney With Over Four Decades of Experience
For decades, Sean Burke set the standard as one of the very best medical malpractice trial lawyers in the state. That same skill set now sets him apart as a top-flight mediator, especially adept at understanding complicated medical issues with multiple parties. Sean brings immense credibility to the resolution process.
- Former President of the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association
I have litigated against Sean Burke for my entire career. Apart from being a very skilled trial attorney, Sean is, more importantly, a professional in every sense of the word. He has always been candid, ethical, and cooperative in all my dealings with him. I believe that Sean will be the perfect mediator for both plaintiff and defense counsel in resolving their cases. His reputation, skill, patience, and genial demeanor are well-known and appreciated by members of the bar and the insurance industry.
- ABOTA Diplomate and Top Trial Attorney with Over 30 Years of Experience
Having worked with Sean for years as opposing counsel, I have always admired his courtesy, professionalism, and kindness. Those qualities continue to define him as a mediator and Judicate West is lucky to have such a competent person to add to the roster.
- Founding Partner at a Leading Civil Litigation and Professional Liability Defense Firm
I was impressed with Sean Burke's capacity for compassion and understanding and firmly felt that he was attempting to find the best outcome for all parties in our matter. I would gladly use him again.
- Attorney on a Medical Malpractice Dental Case
If you need a mediator who was an exemplary trial lawyer, who knows the medicine in injury and medical malpractice cases, and who takes an innovative and persuasive approach to settling disputes, Sean Burke is the mediator for you.
- Former President of ABOTA, Orange County Chapter
I give my highest recommendation to Sean Burke, a great addition to the Judicate West panel. While Sean was a plaintiffs' lawyer for decades, he became highly respected not only by his colleagues on the plaintiffs' side but also by the many defense attorneys he litigated against. In a recent mediation with Sean involving a difficult liability seven-figure case, Sean was well prepared, with a complete understanding of the issues in the case that he derived from the parties’ mediation briefs. He perfectly strategized his approach to each party in the case as the negotiations progressed, resulting in a settlement. What came through to me is not only that Sean brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the mediation process, but that he loves serving as a mediator and helping attorneys resolve difficult cases. That is why lawyers on both sides of the aisle trust and respect him, and why I think of him as a breath of fresh air in the world of mediation.
- Attorney with 40 Years of Experience, Focused on Medical Malpractice
Sean M. Burke, Esq.
Based in Orange County | Available in All of California
Mediation Case Manager: Mariela Covarrubias
Arbitration/Private Judging Case Manager: Samantha Finlen