Judge Palazuelos joins Judicate West, following 24 years of distinguished service to the Los Angeles County Superior Court. She was appointed to the bench in 2000, presiding over the individual civil calendar across all manner of civil matters. Since 2019, she was tapped to exclusively preside over complex civil cases, including mass torts, class actions, and business disputes. For the decade preceding her appointment, she served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, prosecuting all kinds of federal criminal matters. She began her career as a litigation associate, defending insurance companies.

Active in the legal community, Judge Palazuelos served on numerous committees for the Los Angeles Superior Court, including the Executive Committee and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She is a trustee of the Mexican American Bar Foundation, served as a board member for the California Judges Association, and is a founder and past president of the Latino Lawyers Association.

Her vast array of experience in all types of cases while on the bench brings remarkable insight to her role as a neutral. This experience, coupled with her calm, genial, and patient demeanor, position her as an exceptional facilitator of resolution.

Practice Areas
  • All types of Personal Injury including Mass Tort, Sexual Assault, and Wrongful Death
  • Business
  • Construction Defect
  • Employment including Class Action
  • Environmental Law including CEQA and Groundwater Rights
  • Governmental
  • Insurance
  • Lemon Law
  • Real Estate
  • Trade Secrets
  • Voting Rights
Hobbies & Interests

In her free time, Judge Palazuelos enjoys traveling, hiking, and scrapbooking.

Legal Career
  • Full-time Neutral, Judicate West (2024-Present)
  • Judge, Los Angeles County Superior Court (2000-2024); Presided over complex civil cases since 2019; Presided over individual civil calendar consisting of unlimited jurisdiction cases; California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) judge; Presided over individual criminal calendar
  • Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles (1990-2000); Prosecuted defendants in federal criminal cases
  • Associate, Buchalter, Nemer, Fields & Younger (1987-1990); Defended insurance companies in federal and state civil cases, mainly declaratory relief actions or bad faith lawsuits
Education & Professional Affiliations
  • J.D., Columbia University School of Law (1984-1987)
  • B.A., Stanford University (1981-1984)
  • Mediating the Litigated Case, Straus Institute, Pepperdine University School of Law (2023)
  • Member of various Los Angeles County Superior Court Committees (2007-2024)
  • Adjunct Professor, Southwestern Law School; Taught Trial Advocacy + California Civil Procedure; Served as Semi-Final Round Judge on Intramural Moot Court Competition (2014-2017)
  • California Judges Association, Board Member (2015-2017); Compensation + Benefits Committee Member (2015-Present); California Judges Foundation Member (2018-Present)
  • Mexican American Bar Foundation, Trustee (2007-Present)
  • Justice Carlos Moreno Inn of Court, Judicial Advisor (2009-2010)
  • Latino Lawyers Association, Founder, President, Board of Directors (1987-1998)
Achievements & Awards
  • Presiding Judge’s Leadership Award, LA Superior Court’s D&I Workshop (2021)
  • Judge of the Year Award, Korean Community Lawyers Association (2017)
  • Francisca Flores Community Service Award, Latina Lawyers Bar Association (2016)
  • Benjamin Aranda III Judge of the Year Award, Mexican American Bar Association (2014)
  • Speaker for multiple organizations including CAALA, CELA, LACBA + ABOTA
Below is a sampling of the various matters Hon. Yvette M. Palazuelos, Ret. presided over on the bench.

Consumer Class Action

  • As a judge in the Complex Department, she handled many complex class action matters, including wage & hour/PAGA, consumer, real estate, insurance, cannabis, and privacy cases. With respect to a group of related privacy class action cases, the court set up a technology “day” (primer) conference for the court and all counsel.
  • Abella v. Canyon City Foundation, LASC Case No.: 20STCV34345. This is a complex class action real estate case concerning Defendant Canyon City Foundation’s collection of a “Transfer Contribution” pursuant to the terms of a certain Covenant Agreement Requiring Transfer Contribution to Foundation Upon Sale of Residence. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant’s collection of the Transfer Contribution violates California Civil Code section 4575, which prohibits “a community service organization or similar entity [from] impos[ing] or collect[ing] any assessment, penalty, or fee in connection with a transfer of title . . . .” (Cal. Civ. Code § 4575.) The court certified two classes for trial. The case was resolved by summary judgment.
  • Cody v. Zwift Inc. dba WWW.ZWIFT.COM, LASC Case No.: 23STCV12329. This is a complex privacy class action. Plaintiff Annette Cody alleges that Defendant Zwift, Inc. operates an online cycling and running physical training program and maintains a website for users. Plaintiff alleges users of Defendant’s website can communicate with a customer service representative concerning Defendant’s products using a “Website chat feature.” However, Plaintiff alleges third party Kustomer LLC recorded and stored these text communications with customers on Defendant’s website in violation of the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA).

Contractual

  • She has tried and handled many business cases, including partnership disputes, corporate dissolution, bad faith insurance suits, and insurance coverage suits.
  • Truck Ins. Exch., et al. v. CC-Saddleback, LLC, et al., LASC Case No.: BC546052 (Related to BC550171). This case was a complex insurance coverage action among insurers for the settlement of several construction defect cases. Plaintiffs Truck Insurance Exchange (Truck) and Farmers Insurance Exchange (Farmers) filed this action against Defendants CC-Saddleback, LLC (Saddleback); Davlyn Investments, Inc. (Davlyn); and California Capital Insurance Company (California Capital). Plaintiffs allege that California Capital wrongfully failed to defend the underlying construction defect lawsuits at issue and failed to indemnify Plaintiffs for their settlement costs. Ultimately, the court adjudicated on summary adjudication, the duties to defend and the duty to indemnify and awarded contribution from certain insurers.
  • Schrage v. Schrage, et al., LASC Case No.: BC579623. Schrage v. Schrage, (2021) 69 Cal.App.5th 126. This case was a complex court trial in 2018 and involved a corporate buyout/dissolution of one of the largest family-owned car dealership groups in the United States. The business consisted of at least twelve car dealerships, plus a separate management company and a separate holding company. Throughout the litigation, Judge Palazuelos handled buy out, valuation, Independent Examiner, multiple injunctions, and receivership issues.
  • Ruth Light v. Baypoint Mortgage, Inc., et al., LASC Case No.: BC47606. This case was a month-long real estate jury trial in 2014. Plaintiff claimed that various Defendants fraudulently induced Plaintiff into investing in a real estate Ponzi scheme utilizing false appraisals and loan documents. The case involved 27 pieces of real estate and seven defendants. Judge Palazuelos handled complex issues surrounding real estate loans, property development/improvement and sale, foreclosure and default, and misrepresentation.

Discrimination

  • She has tried and adjudicated many employment cases, including sexual harassment, sex, pregnancy, age and race discrimination, hostile work environment, wrongful termination, failure to accommodate and engage in interactive process, ADA failure to accommodate, and trade secret misappropriation.
  • Aboulafia, et al., v. GACN, Inc. et al., LASC Case No. BC469940. This case was an employment age discrimination jury trial in 2013. Plaintiffs, highly skilled female servers, sued their employer, a restaurateur, for age discrimination. When Defendant terminated Plaintiffs, it hired younger and often inexperienced servers, and then advertised for “experienced” servers - - even though it had just fired older, experienced servers. Plaintiffs presented evidence of pretext, that is, that they were fired for phony performance issues. The jury found in favor of each of the four Plaintiffs, and awarded economic damages as follows: $111,756 for one plaintiff; $197,634 for the second; $118,951 for the third; and $253,074 for the fourth. The jury also awarded each Plaintiff $250,000 in non-economic damages (total of $1 million) and $1 million each in punitive damages (total of $4 million punitive damages). The verdict was reported on local television as well as various local newspapers.

Wage and Hour

  • Carmona, et al. v. Lincoln Millennium Car Wash, Inc., LASC Case No. BC484951. Carmona, et al. v. Lincoln Millennium Car Wash, Inc., (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 74. On behalf of Spanish-speaking car wash workers, MALDEF filed a class action suit against a car wash and its owners for wage and hour violations. The car wash company moved to compel arbitration in 2013 because the workers had signed employment agreements containing arbitration clauses. However, the court denied the motion finding that the arbitration agreement was procedurally and substantively unconscionable, citing among other things, the fact that parts of the arbitration agreement were in English, and parts of it were in Spanish. The Court of Appeal unanimously affirmed the decision in a published opinion.

Wage and Hour Class Action

  • Christian Sanchez, et al. v. Auto-Chlor System of Washington, Inc., et al., LASC Case No.: BC707670. This is a complex wage and hour class action. Plaintiff’s claims involved failure to pay meal and rest break wages, minimum wages, etc. The case presented disqualification issues based on defense counsel’s representation of class members where confidential information may have been gained during class members’ limited representation during discovery/depositions. The disqualification issues impacted settlement after the court granted Plaintiff’s motion for class certification.

Wrongful Termination

  • Sport Dimension, Inc. v. Chan et al., LASC Case No.: BC521280. This case was a misrepresentation and wrongful termination jury trial in 2016. Plaintiff alleged that it hired Defendant as Controller and Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”), but that Defendant grossly exaggerated her professional experience for the purpose of securing the job, and this lack of experience in accounting led to substantial business damage / loss. Defendant cross-complained for wrongful termination claiming that she was fired because she discovered that Plaintiff was not disclosing business relationships to the IRS, not paying sales taxes, and that violating wage and hour laws. The jury rendered a mixed verdict.

Environmental Issues

  • She has tried and adjudicated cases involving the environment, including CEQA, California Coastal Act, zoning, and Groundwater Adjudication.
  • Bolthouse Land Company, LLC V. All Persons Claiming A Right To Extract Or Store Groundwater In The Cuyama Valley Groundwater Basin (No. 3-013), LASC Case No. BCV-21-101927. This is a complex groundwater water rights case among users pumping groundwater from the Cuyama Valley basin in Kern County. The case was filed in 2021 under CCP § 830 (the “Streamlined Adjudication Act”). These cases are court trials and tried in phases: (1) basin boundaries, (2) basin safe yield, (3) recent extractions representative of expected pumping and to determine the extent of overdraft, (4) groundwater allocations, and (5) a physical solution, to be incorporated into a judgment. In 2024, the court tried the first phase finding in favor of Plaintiffs that the jurisdictional boundary of this comprehensive groundwater adjudication is coterminous with the boundaries of the Cuyama Valley Groundwater Basin as described and depicted in Bulletin 118, Basin No. 3-103, and that there are no subbasins within the Basin. However, regarding the court’s finding that there are no subbasins within the Basin, the court also found that “this finding would not foreclose addressing the basin management concerns of the objectors [Defendants] . . . Later phases of this adjudication may be used to determine whether management areas should be utilized (or not) and whether the basin should be differentially or homogenously managed.”
  • Venice Coalition to Preserve Unique Community Character, et al. v. City of Los Angeles, et al. LASC Case No.: BC611549. Venice Coalition to Preserve Unique Community Character, et al. v. City of Los Angeles, et al, (2019) 31 Cal.App.5th 42. This case involved the California Coastal Act of 1976. Plaintiff Venice Coalition to Preserve Unique Community Character claimed that the City of Los Angeles illegally exempted certain development projects in Venice from permitting requirements in the Venice land use plan and in the California Coastal Act. The court evaluated the city’s acts in connection with the land use plan and characterized them as “ministerial” as opposed to involving “independent, subjective judgment”, thus requiring neither notice to the community nor a City Planning Commission hearing. The Court of Appeal affirmed the Court in a published decision.
  • Coalition for an Equitable Westlake/MacArthur Park v. City of Los Angeles, et al., LASC Case No.: BS172644. Coalition for an Equitable Westlake/MacArthur Park v. City of Los Angeles, (2020) 47 Cal.App.5th 368. This case involved CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act). CEQA requires state and local government agencies to first determine whether a proposed activity is a project subject to CEQA, and then to determine whether the project is exempt from CEQA or requires some form of a CEQA document, [an environmental impact report (EIR), a negative declaration, or a mitigated negative declaration (MND)]. However, CEQA also has a statute of limitations. Any lawsuit alleging CEQA noncompliance must be filed within 30 days after a facially valid Notice of determination (NOD) is filed. In this case, the court determined that CEQA claims were time-barred and, in a published decision, the Court of Appeal agreed.

Regulatory

  • She has experience handling cases involving government entities, including tax, real estate, law enforcement, civil rights, eminent domain, and complex franchise/technology issues.
  • City of Lancaster v. Netflix, LASC Case No.: 21STCV01881. City of Lancaster v. Netflix (2024) 99 Cal.App.5th 1093. The complex case filed in 2022 involved the City of Lancaster, California, and the companies Netflix, Inc. and Hulu, LLC, (also joining was Direct TV). The City claimed that Netflix and Hulu were required under the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act of 2006 (DIVCA) to pay franchise fees to local governments for using public rights-of-way to provide video service in their jurisdictions. Defendants demurred and the Court sustained the demurrers and without leave to amend and entered a judgment of dismissal. City appealed. On appeal, the court affirmed the dismissal, finding that the Act does not authorize local governments to seek franchise fees from non-franchise holders. The Act allows local governments to sue franchise holders over unpaid or underpaid franchise fees, but it does not extend this right of action to companies that do not hold a state franchise. The court further noted that the Act empowers the state's public utilities commission to enforce franchise-related issues, including the issuance of franchises and the collection of associated fees. The court also rejected the City's claim for declaratory relief, which sought a court order compelling Netflix and Hulu to obtain state franchises and pay franchise fees going forward. The court's ruling means that local governments in California cannot sue video service providers like Netflix and Hulu for failing to pay franchise fees unless those companies hold a state franchise. The Court of Appeal affirmed the Court in a published decision.
  • Ramirez v. City of Gardena, LASC Case No.: BC609508. Ramirez v. City of Gardena, (2018) 5 Cal.5th 995. This case is a government immunity law enforcement case. The court granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of Defendant in 2016. Plaintiff, vehicle passenger’s mother, filed a wrongful death action against the City of Gardena after her son died in a car accident while the police chased his car and used the Precision Immobilization Technique (“PIT”) maneuver. Vehicle Code section 17004.7 provides public agencies employing peace officers with immunity for collisions resulting from police chases if the agency “adopts and promulgates a written policy on and provides regular and periodic training on an annual basis for, vehicular pursuits....” The written policy must include “a requirement that all peace officers of the public agency certify in writing that they have received, read, and understand the policy.” The city argued it was immune from liability because it complied with this section. Plaintiff argued that the City was not immune because all of its officers had not executed written certifications. In granting summary judgment, the court found that the City was immune pursuant to Vehicle Code section 17004.7 even though every City peace officer had not certified in writing that s/he had received, read, and understood the agency’s vehicle pursuit policy. The Court of Appeal agreed, and the Supreme Court affirmed in a published decision.
  • Los Angeles County MTA v. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2122, LASC Case No. BC499571. This case was an eminent domain real estate jury trial in 2014. Plaintiff sued in eminent domain to condemn (take) property owned by Defendant VFW Post 2122 in Inglewood. The issue was the value of the property/building. Defendant VFW wanted more than Plaintiff was willing to pay because Defendant needed to make a new building/property “code complaint” which included compliance with new building codes, parking requirements, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements etc. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendant in an order of final condemnation in the amount of $3,929,343.05.

Catastrophic Injury

  • She has tried and adjudicated many personal injury and wrongful death cases -from everyday cases to large media cases. The cases involve traumatic brain injuries, auto accidents, medical malpractice, assault and battery (including sex assault), elder abuse, slip-and-falls, and product liability (including food and beverage, pharmaceutical and asbestos).

Civil Rights

  • Marshall v. Los Angeles County, LASC Case No. BC430969. This was a jury trial in 2014. Plaintiff, through his parents, sued Defendant for civil rights violations (42 USC §1983). Plaintiff suffered traumatic brain injuries during a race riot at a juvenile probation camp where Plaintiff was incarcerated. Defendants admitted that a “disturbance” occurred in the juvenile camp and that Plaintiff was injured but disputed the extent of Plaintiff’s injuries. Defendant introduced subrosa videotape of Plaintiff and the jury hung. The case was settled before retrial for $1,000,000.

Mass Torts

  • As a judge in the Complex Department, she handled complex mass torts, including the MacLaren Hall mass childhood sex assault cases against the County of LA. MacLaren Hall involved thousands of foster children who claimed they were sexually abused by workers at MacLaren Hall from 1960 to 2004. The cases had unique procedures not employed in other mass tort cases, such as Certificates of Merit, Applications for Juvenile Records, Discovery (and fact sheets) of sensitive information. In connection with these mass torts, Jd. Palazuelos strikes a good combination of legal expertise and compassion.

Wrongful Death

  • Katherine Jackson et al., v. AEG Live et al., LASC Case No. BC445597. Katherine Jackson et al., v. AEG Live et al., (2015) 233 Cal.App.4th 1156. This case was a wrongful death jury trial in 2013. Michael Jackson’s mother and children filed suit against AEG Live and its corporate officers alleging that AEG negligently hired, retained and supervised Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician who was criminally convicted for the death of Michael Jackson. Plaintiffs sought $40 billion dollars in damages. The five-month long jury trial was closely followed by the media, fans and the public. The closing arguments and jury verdict were televised worldwide. The jury found AEG not liable for the death of Michael Jackson. The Court of Appeal unanimously affirmed the judgment, including rulings on pretrial motions, in a published decision. The California Supreme Court denied review.
  • Cuthbertson v. L.A. Cnty. Metro. Transp. Auth., LASC Case No. BC413070. This was a personal injury jury trial in 2011. Mary Cuthbertson, the mother of Cameron Cuthbertson, sued the MTA alleging motor vehicle negligence because her son, a blind man, was killed when he attempted to board Defendant’s train and fell onto the train tracks. The case was closely watched by advocacy groups for the visually impaired whose members often sat in the courtroom during trial. After emotional testimony from Plaintiff, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff, awarding her damages in the amount of $17,000,000.
Hon. Yvette M. Palazuelos, Ret.
Based in Los Angeles | Available in All of California
Case Manager: Kami Villhauer