Discovery Referee / Special Master

As the civil trial calendar overwhelms the trial courts with complex procedural and substantive issues, the courts have sought relief through references to “Special Masters” and “Discovery Referees” as permitted under California Code of Civil Procedure (C.C.P.) sections 638-645.2. The appointment of a Discovery Referee can be beneficial and cost-effective in complex litigation as these cases can involve issues of confidentiality and privilege and tend to be document intensive. The Discovery Referee must take a “hands-on” approach and actively manage the case by coordinating discovery and resolving discovery disputes so that settlement discussions can be productive.

Katherine Gallo provides the following services as Discovery Referee:

Case Management. Works with the parties in outlining the issues and coordinating a discovery plan. There will be scheduled hearing dates to coordinate discovery, to use as meet and confer sessions, as well as having discovery motions heard. The Discovery Referee/Special Master will work with the mediator and the settlement judge in directing discovery so settlement discussions can be productive.

Tentative Rulings. On the day prior to the hearing, all parties will be faxed tentative rulings and will have approximately three hours to notify the Discovery Referee of their decision of whether to contest the tentative ruling. All motion procedures are set out in advance and are code compliant except where the court or parties direct otherwise.

Conference Call Hearings. Hearings may be held via phone conferencing. At any party’s request, an in-person hearing can be scheduled and will be held at a mutually agreed upon-location. In complex cases, the discovery committee will meet in person and the other parties have the option of attending in person or appearing via phone conference.

Recommendation and Orders. The Discovery Referee prepares all the recommended orders which will contain a ruling on every objection to each interrogatory, request for admission, request for documents or deposition question in issue. In addition, there will be a ruling on sanctions and referee fees. The recommended order will also specifically state that if any party objects to the recommended order, they must comply with C.C.P. section 643.

On Stand-By For Depositions. With appropriate notice, the Discovery Referee will be on phone standby to rule on objections during a deposition.

Aim Towards Settlement. Provides active assistance to the parties to obtain an experienced professional to mediate the matter or work with the court to obtain an early settlement conference.



Katherine Gallo has for more than 20 years served as a mediator and Pro Tem Settlement Conference Judge in well over 500 cases, with a settlement rate of over 90%. Ms. Gallo has been asked to serve on the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Panels for the Superior Courts of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties.

Ms. Gallo has over 100 hours of specialized mediation training which include over 25 hours of training for Pro Tem Judicial Officers and 24 hours at the ABA Dispute Resolution Conferences in 2008 and 2010. She has also completed the well regarded three day course programs in “Mediating Complex Construction Disputes” and “Mediating the Complex Case”, offered by the Strauss Institute at Pepperdine University.

Types of cases Katherine Gallo has successfully brought to resolution:

  • Personal Injury
  • Product Liability
  • Elder Abuse
  • Construction Defect (including liens and construction operations losses)
  • Probate
  • Lemon Law
  • Mortgage/Foreclosure disputes
  • Employment (wrongful termination, discrimination and wage and hour claims)
  • Real Property (including eminent domain, easements and commissions)
  • Professional Malpractice
  • Business Disputes (including commercial contracts and partnership dissolutions)
  • Landlord/Tenant