Mitch is co-founder of Dean Gazzo Roistacher LLP and has extensive civil litigation experience in the areas of public entity liability, employment litigation, civil rights and police liability, insurance defense, and inverse condemnation. He has successfully tried numerous cases in state and federal courts.
Mitch is AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell and is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). ABOTA is a national invitation-only organization. Prospective members must have extensive jury trial experience, possess additional litigation experience, and exhibit the virtues of civility, integrity and professionalism.
In addition to his extensive litigation work, Mitch has served as Judge Pro Tem in San Diego courts for several years. He has been an arbitrator and member of judicial settlement conference panels. Mr. Dean served on the Board of Directors for the North County Bar Association and continues to teach for the People’s Law School, sponsored by the North County Bar Association.
Mitch received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego, and his J.D. from the University of San Diego, where he served as staff writer for the California Regulatory Law Reporter.
Mitch successfully defended the City of Encinitas at trial against an inverse condemnation lawsuit filed by three bluff-top homeowners following a late 1990’s much-publicized landslide and bluff failure along Neptune Avenue. (Brown v. Okun, Case No. N73644)
Mitch successfully defended the City of Carlsbad in 2003 and 2005, and several of its police officers, in multiple Federal Court trials in cases alleging excessive force and false arrest. (Rochon v. Marstell, Case No. 99cv0499, Rhead v. Carlsbad, Case No. 01cv0629)
Mitch participated in the 2006 successful defense of the City of El Cajon and its police department from Federal Court claims of excessive use of force in a police shooting incident. (Stansfield v. City of El Cajon, Case No. GIC826266)
Mitch successfully obtained a trial defense verdict for three Chula Vista Police Officers in 2009. This was a civil rights case in which it was claimed the officers used excessive force in the shooting and death of a suspect. (DJ Allen v. Chula Vista, Case No. 37-2008-00069534-Cu-PO-SC)
Mitch was lead trial counsel for the City of San Diego in a sexual assault case against a police officer. Ultimately, the case was settled in 2014 after aggressive and wide-ranging discovery and dispositive motions. At the time of settlement, all the individual defendants had been dismissed via motions for summary adjudication and the case was set for a trifurcated trial. (Doe v. City of San Diego, Case No. 37-2012-00092039-CU-PO-CTL)
Mitch successfully obtained a defense verdict in Federal Court for an El Cajon Police Officer. This was a civil rights case in which it was claimed the officer used excessive force in the shooting of a suspect. (Goodlow v. El Cajon, Case No. 13cv1524)
Recently, Mitch has tried a series of four FEHA and Labor Code employment cases for the City of Carlsbad. In this series of trials, he obtained two non-suits and two jury defense verdicts. All verdicts and decisions were affirmed on appeal. (Sisco v. Carlsbad, Case No. 37-2014-00026069-CU-WT-NC, Preston v. Carlsbad, Case No. 37-2015-00021751-CU-WT-NC, Flores v. Carlsbad, Case No. 37-2014-00015129-CU-OE-NC, Willis v. Carlsbad, Case No. 37-2016-00004240-CU-OE-NC)
In 2019, Mitch won a 12-0 defense verdict in an officer-involved shooting case called Olango v. City of El Cajon. The shooting originally caused several days of protests in the City of El Cajon, including accusations of racism because it involved the shooting of an unarmed black man. The shooting spawned several separate cases. Some plaintiffs (Olango’s father, Olango’s Estate and his wife and daughter) filed in federal court alleging civil rights violations. These cases were dismissed by way of summary judgment. Olango’s sister filed a state court action alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress. The trial ultimately went forward in state court, to which some of the federal plaintiffs were added, on the basis of negligence, including pre-shooting negligent tactical decisions. (Olango v. El Cajon, Case No. 37-2017-0005331-CU-PO-CTL)
Most recently, Mitch Dean and Stephanie Skees, in a 6 day jury trial in North County, which ended on May 20, 2022, obtained a defense verdict (11-1) in a wrongful death case. Plaintiffs were the five heirs of the decedent, Frank Vawter. They sued the City of Carlsbad and West Coast Arborists (WCA) for the death of Frank Vawter when a tree branch from a Eucalyptus tree in Holiday Park in Carlsbad fell on him and killed him. Plaintiffs sued the City for a dangerous condition of public property (the subject tree) and WCA for negligence in the pruning of the tree. After a 6 day jury trial, the jury found, in an 11-1 verdict, that the tree was not a dangerous condition. That verdict ended the bifurcated trial. Keys in the defense verdict were the preparation of the defense expert arborist and the effective cross-examination of the plaintiffs’ arborist expert. The jury did not find the plaintiffs’ expert credible and relied upon the defense arborist expert for the verdict. The case was tried before the Honorable Blaine Bowman. The case was Vawter v. City of Calrsbad, et. al, Case No. 37-2018-00051119-CU-PO-NC.