Judge Waldrip began his legal career in the Trial Department of Rutan & Tucker, Orange Country's largest local-based firm. He left as a senior partner to become General Counsel for a healthcare company. Shortly thereafter, he opened his own small firm, the Law Offices of Stuart T. Waldrip, APC. There, he was a successful business and professional liability litigator for 16 years before being appointed to the Orange County Superior Court in 1996.

Before being appointed to the Court, Judge Waldrip served regularly for many years as a judge pro tempore, presiding over hundreds of settlement conferences and other judicial proceedings. During his career, he received many honors and awards, including being President of the Orange County Bar Association and receiving the Franklin G. West Award, its highest honor. In 1991 he was inducted as a Fellow of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers.

With over 45 years of experience as a successful litigator and jurist, Judge Waldrip has a reputation as an even-tempered, fair-minded, very capable jurist with a talent for bringing opposing sides together. His final assignment before retiring from the Court was as a member of the elite Complex Civil Litigation Panel, which he helped organize. He presided over complex construction, insurance, class action, condemnation, business, intellectual property, and other large and difficult civil cases. Most of these cases were resolved by settlement with Judge Waldrip's help. Now, as one of the senior neutrals at Judicate West, he has a passion for helping others resolve their disputes with the patience, firmness, experience, and understanding that makes him the ideal neutral.

As one prominent litigator, now a judge observed: "As a lawyer and a judge, Stu Waldrip was second to none in the respect he earned from his colleagues.... impeccable integrity, a keen intellect, a commanding presence, and a way with people that produces results." Another litigator and managing partner of a major law firm commented, after a successful mediation: " He couldn't have done a better job in a tough case, and I couldn't recommend him more highly."

Practice Areas
  • Business/Contractual
  • Class Actions
  • Construction/Defect
  • Employment
  • Insurance
  • Intellectual Property
  • Personal Injury
  • Product Liability
  • Professional Liability
  • Real Estate
  • Referee - Discovery
ADR Highlights
  • Active ADR Neutral for 12+ years in multiple states and have managed over 1K of cases
  • Arbitrated large, multi-session case in healthcare industry with hard damages over $100 million
  • Settled business dispute involving multi-national tech company and tech vendor in 9 sessions over 3+ years and during two trials
  • Settled ownership dispute involving multi-national business after 11 sessions over 3+ years
  • Arbitrated dispute between cooperating developers of large metro complex in 11 separate arbitrations over 4 years (so far)
  • One of authors of JW Commercial Arbitration Rules and Appellate Rules
  • On CLE panel in NorCal and SoCal presenting on best techniques and practices in Arbitration
Hobbies & Interests

Golf, Skiing, Fly Fishing, Scuba Diving
Speaks fluent Spanish and German

Legal Career
  • Neutral, Judicate West (2006-Present)
  • Judge, Orange County Superior Court, General and Complex Civil (1996-2002)
  • Attorney, Law Offices of Stuart T. Waldrip, APC Business Litigation and Professional Liability, Orange County (1980-1996)
  • Attorney, Rutan & Tucker, Trial Department, Orange County (1967-1979)
Education & Professional Affiliations
  • J.D., University of Utah College of Law (1967)
  • B.A., Stanford University, Economics (1961) Minor Engineering
  • BYU Law School, Adjunct Professor of Civil Trial Practice (2006-2008)
  • American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow (1991-Present)
  • Association of Business Trial Lawyers, Member (1985-Present)
  • Orange County Bar Association, President (1987); Treasurer (1985)
  • Orange County Bar Association, Executive Committee & Board of Directors (1997-1979; 1982-1988)
  • Guatemala Quetzaltenango Mission, Mission President (2002-2005); Former Stake President and Bishop, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Achievements & Awards
  • Inaugural recipient, Lifetime Achievement Award, Constitutional Rights Foundation of Orange County (2002)
  • Franklin G. West Award, Orange County Bar Association (1996)
  • Outstanding Attorney Volunteer Award, Constitutional Rights Foundation of Orange Co. (1996)
  • Outstanding Lawyer Award, J. Reuben Clark Law Society of Orange County (1994)
  • Bill of Rights in Action Award, Constitutional Rights Foundation of Orange County (1993)
  • Community Service Award, Orange County Bar Foundation (1991)
  • Assistant Editor, Utah Law Review (1966-67)
Below is a sampling of the various matters Hon. Stuart T. Waldrip, Ret. presided over on the bench, tried as an attorney, or handled as a neutral.

Complex Commercial

  • Mediation of 7-figure default on medical equipment loan-large bank vs. guarantors
  • Mediation of 8-figure default on loan for resort hotel with borrower and guarantor issues
  • Mediation of 7-figure dispute over development rights and obligations of large desert development project
  • Mediation of 12-party real estate concealment/failure to disclose dispute
  • Discovery Referee - Multi-million dollar dispute between manufacturers of highly technical equipment involving ESI of great magnitude
  • Multi-day mediation of a contract and tort business dispute involving three world-wide semi-conductor companies and other parties and complex legal, factual and insurance issues. Settlement was reached following mediator’s proposal.
  • Mediation of break-up of major multi-location law firm. Settled with all partners involved on complex terms involving client, taxation, intellectual property, accounting, retirement plan, and other elements involved in the separation of one group of partners and associated associates and staff from another group.

Consumer Class Action

  • Mediation of large nationwide class action against major food manufacturer regarding claims of false advertising
  • Mediation of multi-million dollar Open ARM Loan class action against home loan lender


  • Mediation of 7-figure dispute between public entity and large university hospital over contract issues and terms
  • Mediation in 7 sessions over 2 years of 8-figure dispute between large software company and principals of acquired company over contract and technical issues
  • Business dispute between well-know public figures with 8-figure damages at stake involving 8 lawsuits in 3 jurisdictions. A 6 figure settlement was reached after 3 mediation sessions spanning 4 months and vigorous follow-up.
  • Chaired 3-judge panel to review CLRA award regarding lander and auto dealer issues of significant importance to both industries involving interpretation of the California Consumer Remedies Act and relevant case law.
  • Arbitration of 8-figure major health care company break-up dispute involving multiple parties and counsel over several years.
  • Arbitration of construction dispute case involving steel structure at airport with contradicting claims under contract documents and regarding performance issues, change orders, delays, and other disputes.
  • Arbitration of construction delay and performance dispute on major project for an airport. Large contractors on each side with competing claims for delay damages vs. contract amounts owing.
  • Multi-day arbitration of dispute between prominent contractors regarding performance, delay, and liquidated damages issues on large airport project.
  • Settlement of a dispute over management and other provisions of multiple LLCs involving millions of dollars in multi-family residential properties. Settlement revised provisions of Operating Agreements of LLCs to accommodate interests of the parties.
  • Securities fraud case involving international parties and institutions. Cultural and language issues. Settled for mid-7 figure amount.
  • Mediated a case between a large university-affiliated hospital and a county regional hospital over contractual and regulatory issues involving referred patients with specialized care needs.

Corporate Governance

  • Corporate divorce of three closely held companies with a total value in the 9-figures and complex issues.
  • Arbitration of breakup of sophisticated real estate syndication and investment companies with common ownership. Property divided between owners after complex settlement agreement through arbitrated “draft pick” process dividing up properties and debts in the high 8-figures, enabling owners to continue with their own portfolios and separate companies and avoiding threatened receivership and litigated break-up.

Financial Elder Abuse

  • Dispute alleging fraud in sale of business and fraudulent financial advice and conduct with multi-national and multiple parties and one party incarcerated due to this and other transactions. National broker-dealer firm settled out earlier. Parallel FINRA and criminal cases. Settled with all parties for six-figure payments.

Construction Breach Of Contract

  • Arbitration of multi-million dollar construction defect case involving water storage facility between a city, an insurance carrier and a multi-national contractor.

Construction Defects

  • Multi-home mediation of dispute with developer and multiple subs over construction defect issues

Wrongful Termination

  • Mediation of employment discrimination case against fast food chain partially in Spanish
  • Mediation of 8-figure executive wrongful termination case over multiple sessions

Environmental Issues

  • Wrote an article on a water related case in the Utah Law Review about General Adjudication Proceedings in the 17 Western States that has been cited by courts since that time. Worked on the California-Arizona Colorado River dispute, as well as a number of other Southern California water matters, as well. In addition to a long history of disputes involving various governmental agencies and political units. That includes cities, counties, state and federal government, agencies of all levels, water districts, schools, special districts, intergovernmental agencies, joint powers agreements, etc., a substantial part of judicial career and a neutral has involved government claims, government contracting and public liability issues generally.


  • Multi-session mediation of dispute between carrier and large residential developer over coverage and related issues
  • Presiding Arbitrator of panel determining re-insurance claim by major carrier against California city.


  • Arbitration of 8-figure dispute between carriers over respective duties to contribute to settlement of underlying product liability case
  • Arbitration of underlying 8-figure CNC injury claim to determine parties' respective responsibilities for settlement contributions

General IP

  • Mediation of 7-figure cross claims for IP theft and unfair competition between parties in tech field

IP Trade Secrets

  • Discovery Referee - Multi-million dollar dispute between two international drug manufacturers over trade secrets and related issues
  • Discovery Referee - Credit card processor vs. departing employees over trade secret electronic media issues


  • Complex large estate and trust dispute with 11 lawsuits settled in 4th mediation for an 8-figure amount in the very early hours of the morning.
  • Arbitrated a multi-session dispute over interpretation and implementation of settlement documentation in a nine-figure estate and trusts matter between multiple parties and involving 12 lawsuits.


  • Complex will contest case. Dispute was between competing potential beneficiaries of estate valued at a significant eight-figure value. Settled by agreement to jointly pursue will contest against purportedly fraudulent will by allocating expenses, fees, and distribution of the estate between them if contest is successful (likely).

Professional Malpractice Legal

  • Mediation of 7-figure malpractice claim by sports manufacturer against large law firm
  • Arbitration of 6-figure malpractice/attorney fees case between client and major law firm

Breach Of Contract

  • Mediation of dispute over lease rights and obligations between major grocery chain and shopping center
  • Settled mediation of commercial lease/option to purchase agreement.

Home Owners Association

  • Judicial Reference case involving construction defect issues between HOA and multiple developer and construction defendants.
  • Judicial Reference of breach of contract and construction defect case involving series of detention basins serving several large residential developments. Multiple parties and large amount at stake.
  • Dispute between homeowner and HOA over interpretation of CC&Rs, fine assessments, breach of fiduciary duty, 7-figure demand, 6 figure settlement.


  • Allocation of settlement of multi-millions of dollars in claims for fire losses of multiple tenants in major metropolitan business complex.

Real Property

  • Arbitration of series of 7 disputes between two developers of a mixed-use development in downtown area of large city
  • Dispute over validity of option to purchase commercial real estate. Settled for purchase of property.

Business Torts

  • Construction Defect / Mold case involving allegations of personal injury to residents from mold exposure in expensive hillside home.

PI Auto

  • Mediation of serious motorcycle vs. auto personal injury case

Premises Liability

  • Mediation of 7-figure toxic mold case against large HVAC supplier and installer

Product Liability

  • Mediation of complex product defect case involving supply chain manufacturers
He listened, kept all parties at the table until deal was done. He stayed until 2:30 am to sign binding agreement.
- Attorney on a Probate Matter
Judge Waldrip arrived at mediation with a solid grasp of the facts and the issues at hand. Though I think one of the parties was very difficult and came to the table with unreasonable expectations, Waldrip was able to guide them to a reasonable outcome. I was impressed with how direct and patient he was during the whole process. Further, I was happy he was willing to see the settlement through to the end and participated in the drafting/discussion of the settlement agreement.
- Attorney on a Real Estate Neighbor Dispute Case
This was a complicated case because there were different parties involving multiple leases, an eviction, and property damage claims. Despite the challenges and personalities, Judge Waldrip stayed with the case, worked late, and helped the parties get the case resolved. I look forward to working with Judge Waldrip in the future.
- Attorney on a Real Property Breach of Contract case
Judge Waldrip was committed and even available after the mediation had concluded, to assisting the parties with finalizing the settlement.
- Attorney, Newport Beach, California
I am impressed with Judge Waldrip's tenacity to put together a settlement for a difficult and complex case. I appreciate the effort he expended and look forward to working with him again.
- Attorney, Orange County, California
Judge Waldrip did a good job. I believe his yeoman efforts kept the parties at the table longer than a less effective mediator would have.
- Attorney on a Real Property Transaction case
I would like to express my appreciation for Judge Waldrip's skill and professionalism as a mediator. He did an outstanding job at settling a complex and hotly litigated case headed for trial. I look forward to working with him again in the future.
- Attorney, Orange County, California
I really appreciated Judge Walrdip’s approach and dedication to the settlement process. It was an honor to have him as mediator.
- Attorney on a Real Estate Neighbor Dispute Case
Hon. Stuart T. Waldrip, Ret.
Based in Orange County | Available in All of California
Case Manager: Laura Finley