ADR and Automobile Claims

Founded in 1991, MDRS has perhaps mediated and arbitrated more automobile claims of all types than any other ADR provider in Massachusetts.  Automobile related claims are particularly suited to the processes of alternative dispute resolution, which are designed to meet the parties’ interests in resolving these cases equitably, economically and skillfully, and avoiding the time, expense and uncertainty of trial in the Court system.  Over the past years, the inability of the Court system to appropriately adjudicate the array of automobile claims has become even more pronounced to legal consumers.

MDRS has attempted to maintain our reasonable fee structure for automobile related claims and the present fees for a standard mediation session or arbitration hearing are but $495.00 per party, much less than parties would expend in bringing their case through litigation to a distant trial in the traditional Court system. MDRS also offers what we see as the best available panel of experienced neutrals with extensive substantive experience in mediating and arbitrating automobile claims. Read more.

MED-ARB: Sculpting the ADR Process To The Case

Both mediation and arbitration are now familiar and popular ADR processes used to resolve an ever broadening array of disputes. Over the past years, these two processes have literally transformed the legal landscape such that parties and their counsel are viewing ADR as a more appropriate manner of resolving disputes than is offered by Courts.

Less familiar, and to some observers more controversial, is the hybrid ADR process called MED-ARB, where the parties agree in advance to present their case to a mediator and, should that process not result in a final settlement, the case will be submitted to binding arbitration. In its “pure” state, the same neutral is selected to serve as both mediator and arbitrator.  As an alternative, a separate neutral can be selected to serve as arbitrator should the matter not fully resolve at mediation.  Read more here.

Recent Cases in ADR – April 2013

Keep updated on the most recent cases and latest developments in Alternative Dispute Resolution.  What’s new this April?  Find out here.

Arbitration – Arbitration Clause in Employee Handbook Not Enforceable.  The plaintiff brought suit alleging that her employer, its owner and her former supervisor interfered with her request for maternity leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act and retaliated against her by passing her over for promotion and demoting her to a part-time position. The defendants moved to compel arbitration pursuant to a provision in an employee handbook signed by the plaintiff. The Court denied the defendant’s motion on grounds that the arbitration agreement in the handbook is unenforceable.  Read more.

Arbitration – Dispute over Condominium Stairs Requires Arbitration Under Trust Document.  In a case where the owners of the units in a two-unit condominium have been engaged in a dispute over the stairs leading to the front doors of the units, the Court ruled that the defendant’s motion to compel arbitration should be allowed based on the terms of the condominium trust and the commonwealth’s public policy favoring arbitration of disputes.  Read more.

Arbitration – Counsel Fees Allowed in FINRA Case.  In a case where the parties agreed to abide by any arbitration award rendered, the Court ruled that the arbitrators were acting within the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) guidelines by awarding counsel fees. Read more.

Arbitration – Award in Employment Dispute Upheld.  In 2010, the plaintiff employer was awarded damages due to the defendant employee’s breach of a non-competition clause. In 2012, the defendant was awarded damages pursuant to an unlawful retaliation lawsuit. The defendant then sought to vacate the 2010 arbitration award given the findings in the 2012 lawsuit, the defendant is unable to show that the 2010 award should be vacated under either 9 U.S.C. §10(a) or F.R.C.P. 60(b)(2). Read more.

Arbitration – Arbitration Clause Found Not Enforceable in Home Improvement Case.  An Essex County Superior Court judge awarded summary judgment to the plaintiff homeowners in a dispute with the defendant home improvement contractor.  The Court affirmed this judgment despite the defendant’s assertion that the dispute should be arbitrated in Worcester County. Read more.

Arbitration – Police Officer Reinstatement Does not Contravene Public Policy.  Where a Superior Court judge confirmed an arbitrator’s decision to order the reinstatement of a police officer who had been terminated, the arbitration award did not contravene public policy, so the Superior Court judgment must be upheld. Read more.

Conciliation training guidelines modified 4:29 pm Thu, March 7, 2013.  Trial Court Chief Justice Robert A. Mulligan has approved a change in the qualification training requirements for court-connected conciliators, as recommended by the Standing Committee on Dispute Resolution. Read more.

 

MDRS About Town

IMG_3243-smallThis Spring, Brian Jerome has helped lead a variety of ADR-related events in the Boston area.  Here are a few of the places where he has been.

In March, Brian participated in, and helped present, a Mediator Training Program at Salem Bar Advocates with Attorney Michael Merriam.

In February, Brian helped present an Insurance Training Seminar for Claims Handlers at The Hartford in Connecticut with Ryan Hamilton of Resolute Systems.

Earlier this month, Brian participated on an ADR Panel at Northeastern University Law School with Judge Judith Dein and Attorney Michael Zeytoonian.

On April 18, Brian participated in a Mock Mediation Training at New England School of Law with Professor C. Michele Dorsey

ADR for Auto Accidents

 

Proving fault in an automobile accident with another vehicle is often difficult. The circumstances surrounding car accidents vary greatly and each involves unique elements that should be examined.

If you are involved in an automobile accident, you may be in shock and unable to fully process what is going on around you.  It is helpful to keep calm, but sometimes that is impossible in the moment, especially when there is a lot of damage to the vehicles or injury to yourself or passengers.

In order to prove fault you must be able to give an account of the accident in as much detail as possible.  This includes the date, time, weather and road conditions.  It is also helpful to have witnesses who are able to corroborate your account of the accident.

The more information that you can provide, the better chance you have of proving fault or defending yourself from such accusations.  Photographs and diagrams are often helpful, but the latter can be difficult to reconstruct after the fact, especially in emotionally or physically damaging scenarios.

Unfortunately, regardless of the accuracy and detail of your report, it is often your word against the word of the other driver.  In cases where fault appears to be hard to prove, bringing the case to court may not be your best option.

In these instances, consider alternative dispute resolution as a means to facilitate an agreement.   Mediation can often times be of great use in these instances.  It is a confidential process, where your case can be discussed, but no decision must be adhered to if it is not agreed upon by both parties.  You will also save money and time that would otherwise be spent in lengthy court proceedings, where the outcome is out of your hands.

ADR for Prescription Drug Errors

 

According to the Institute of Medicine, medication errors affect more than 1.5 million Americans each year in hospitals alone. Similarly, in a study published by the Journal of American Pharmacists Association in 2003, it was found that American pharmacies make over 30 million drug administration errors a year.

Errors can occur for a multitude of reasons, from prescription drug names that look and sound similar, to incorrect dosage, to drug interactions with previously prescribed medications. It is sometimes an unavoidable accident, but very often it is simple human error.

One of the largest factors in prescription drug error is the multitude of steps that must be followed by hospitals administering drugs in an inpatient capacity. A prescription travels from the doctor to a nurse, who relays the request to the pharmacist, who reviews it and sends the medication back through to the nurse, who finally administers the medication to the patient. Likewise, with outpatient care, hard to decipher handwriting on prescription pads may lead to an incorrect translation by a pharmacist, or when the prescription is called in by phone, a simple miscommunication can have serious consequences. A scary fact is that problems can occur at any point in this chain, which do not account for other problems, such as allergies unbeknownst to either party.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a prescription drug error, there are many options at your disposal. While court trials are long, costly and emotionally difficult for everyone involved, mediation provides an alternative solution for your situation.

At MDRS, our experienced neutrals can assist both parties involved in reaching an agreement in a private and comfortable atmosphere, without all of the added pressure of a drawn out court case. Alternative Dispute Resolution is flexible and tailored to the needs of both parties involved.

 

Massachusetts Caregiver Homes

For many families, caring for a family member who is disabled or elderly can be a financial and emotional burden. Often it could seem that placing a disabled family member in a nursing home is the easiest route to take. However, in Massachusetts there is an alternative solution.

Founded in 2005, a program of MassHealth called Caregiver Homes allows for a disabled or elderly person to remain in their home and with their loved ones while taking some of the strain off of their caregivers both emotionally and financially.

The program provides money and resources to those families of elderly or disabled individuals, allowing that person to live in their own home rather than a nursing home. The program makes it possible for a family member or friend to become the primary in-home caregiver and get paid a stipend of up to $18,000.

Ultimately the disabled or elderly individual is more comfortable since they do not have to adjust to a new living situation. The state saves money, and the quality of life is often improved for everyone involved.

For more information on Caregiver Homes, please visit http://www.seniorlink.com/

 

Looking for Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

 

Taking care of aging parents is a difficult job.  Turning to adult day care and nursing homes for assistance are sometimes unavoidable arrangements.  This decision is often times inescapable – whether it is because of hectic work schedules, caring for young children, or medical handicaps that make home care impossible.  At MDRS, we understand how hard the decision to give up day to day control over your loved ones can be.  Therefore, it is fundamentally important that you feel comfortable with the caregivers who take on the daily responsibilities of caring for your elderly loved ones.

Unfortunately elder abuse and nursing home mistreatment does exist and at MDRS we are often called upon by disputing parties to help mediate and arbitrate these types of cases.  If you believe your loved one may be a victim of nursing home abuse then here are some key factors to look for.

An article on USNews.com recently offered “9 Warning Signs of Bad Care.”  Contributor, Kurtis Hiatt, consults Dan Sewall, the director of the senior behavioral health unit at the UC San Diego Medical Center, to sum up some of the major, often overlooked, signs of nursing home negligence.  First and foremost, keep an eye out for “emotional or physical changes.”  Hiatt warns that behavioral discordances as simple as becoming withdrawn from activities once previously enjoyed may be a clue to mistreatment.  More physical ailments, such as unexplained bruises or weight loss are also huge red flags.  While these symptoms are not enough to be certain, they undoubtedly should prompt further exploration into the care of your loved ones.

Be weary of a consistently unresponsive staff.  If you are not having your questions sufficiently answered or feel as though responses are vague and inconsistent, there may be cause for concern.  Hiatt cites Jatin Dave, a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Center for Older Adult Health in Boston, who claims that “I get more concerned when someone says, ‘This is how we do things here,’ and has no desire to help.”

If the vibe of the residence is constantly frenzied and the directors are missing in action then there may be a cause for concern.  Likewise, frequent staff turnovers, unanswered telephones, and more explicitly, a loved one’s direct wish to avoid interaction with particular personnel are warning signs that should not be ignored.

Ultimately, Hiatt acknowledges that you should go with your gut.  If you believe there is reason to be concerned do not hesitate to explore the possibility.

If negligence or abuse has occurred, MDRS may be able to help you mediate your issue or case with a nursing home.  Our out-of-court Alternative Dispute Resolution and mediation services can facilitate the process so that you can avoid a lengthy, expensive and emotionally taxing court trial.  MDRS has a panel of experienced neutrals, who can help you achieve fair and impartial results.

Focus on Elderly and Nursing Home Abuse Cases

One of the most common types of cases or disputes that we help to resolve are cases involving elderly nursing home abuse or neglect. One of the challenges involved in these cases is that often times if there is an abuse or mistreatment, the injured parties often suffer from a loss of trust.  It is difficult to then move beyond the mistrust into an environment of healing and settlement, which is why these cases lead to litigation.

At MDRS, we understand the difficulties in these cases and how to resolve them fairly and cost-effectively.  Along with our panel members, MDRS takes a careful and impartial approach and examines the facts of the case, helping you achieve better alternatives to resolving the cases at trial.

In a series of upcoming posts we will look at some of the common issues of neglect and abuse that occur in nursing homes, how they can be avoided, and provide some resources to help families struggling with these challenges, as well as discuss our approach to resolving these types of cases utilizing alternative dispute resolution methods with MDRS.

Mediation Didn’t Spoil the Twinkies

 

Unless you stocked up in November or have been trolling the snack food selection on eBay, it has been quite some time since you last bit into a Twinkie.  But lucky for junk food aficionados, that spongy yellow delicacy may be back in time for summer.

Last November, Hostess, the original manufacturer of the treat, announced that mediation with its bakers’ union had failed and the company would make like Twinkie cream filling and liquidate.

After a week-long strike by the bakers, Hostess had no choice but to seek approval to liquidate the 82-year-old company.  Instead of immediately consenting, Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain suggested private mediation with lenders and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union as a last-ditch effort to avoid liquidation.  Drain, urging for mediation, advised against a public hearing which would be lengthy and expensive.  Drain said, “My desire to do this is prompted primarily by the potential loss of over 18,000 jobs as well as my belief that there is a possibility to resolve this matter.”

Regrettably, it was reported shortly after that mediation had failed and the company would liquidate.  Mediation was surely the best solution to the problem, but unfortunately the animosity between the two sides made mediation difficult.

This week it was announced that Hostess is moving forward with selling its Twinkies and the tasty snack could be back in time for Summer BBQs.