MDRS Spotlight on Premises Liability

According to a recent statistic, the National Safety Council reported that slip and fall accidents account for 1 million visits to the ER per year.  And these account for only a fraction of premises liability cases, which can occur from any injury suffered on property belonging to or maintained by another person or party.  Premises liability cases can be complex and unique, with many factors that can impact an individual case.  After all, where premises liability is concerned, it can be difficult to prove whether the fault is on the injured party or the owner of the property where the injury has occurred. Those involved in these unfortunate accidents deserve fair resolution.

Using Alternative Dispute Resolution to settle these types of cases can often be the best choice for both parties. Rather than waiting years to resolve their case, both parties will be able to come to an agreeable settlement without leaving the decision in the hands of the court system.

What makes ADR the best choice for resolving these cases? Control is in the hands of those involved and a settlement can be reached that is fair and acceptable to both parties.  In addition, a case can be handled quickly, at the pace determined by those involved, without sacrificing valuable time and money, which is often a consequence of cases brought to trial.

At MDRS, we have knowledgeable and skilled mediators who have a multitude of experience handling premises liability cases.  Whether it be a building maintenance issue, a construction site incident, the use of defective tools or equipment, an animal attack or a workers’ compensation claim, our mediators have seen and handled it all, including the resolution of thousands of slip and fall cases.  Now, more than ever, ADR is the answer.  See our Areas of SpecialtyPremises Liability page for more information on how we can help resolve your case.

Dissolving Business Partnerships with Mediation

When you are involved in a business partnership, it can be daunting to think about severing that critical relationship, however, there are uncounted issues that can lead to the necessary dissolution of a business partnership. Whether it’s simply one party’s loss of interest in the business, a desire to retire, a lack of commitment that could be hindering the success of the business, or issues much more complicated and worrisome, sometimes it is essential for business partnerships to come to an end.

Navigating such a disbanding is almost always a stressful endeavor.  The process of business dissolution can be long, complicated, and expensive.  Choosing mediation positions the parties to reach fair and effective resolution together.  Your business is most likely your livelihood, and nobody wants to be involved in lengthy legal proceedings.  Instead, mediation serves to protect your business and its reputation, as well as your business relationships.  It is a very effective tool in resolving even the most contentious business conflicts.

Severing a business partnership can be hard.  With MDRS, a skilled mediator assists the parties in reaching resolution and maintaining control of the ultimate agreement.  Unlike costly litigation, mediation is inexpensive and takes into consideration everyone’s goals and issues.  And unlike going to court where settlement terms are forced upon you, in mediation the parties agree to the terms of settlement and maintain control of their case.

If you are thinking about dissolving a business partnership, MDRS can help. Our experienced mediators can guide you toward a settlement that is agreeable to all involved, taking care that your business is handled in a way you approve of.  Call MDRS at (800) 536-5520.  Now, more than ever, ADR is the Answer.

NFL Concussion Case Heads to Mediation

In April 2013, a hearing was held in Philadelphia over litigation filed against the National Football League by more than 4,000 players who allege that concussions suffered during their careers have adversely impacted their health. Plaintiffs include players who want their future health closely monitored, those already suffering from dementia, depression, and/or neurological disorders, and the families of those who have committed suicide after difficult bouts with mental illness.  The lawyers for the NFL then filed a motion to dismiss the case, claiming that collective bargaining agreements were negotiated between the NFL and the players.

U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody is charged with the case.  Three months after the first hearing, and in response to the NFL’s motion to dismiss the case, Brody ordered both parties to mediation. The mediator is Layn Phillips, a retired federal judge. Lawyers for the players allege that the NFL concealed the dangerous cognitive effects of head trauma, and has been doing so for decades. The NFL argues that they have monitored the scientific research and followed it accordingly, issuing warnings when necessary.

Brody maintains that she will not make a decision until September, allowing significant time for mediation to take place. The mediation is non-binding – meaning that if the process isn’t working for either side, their cooperation is voluntary and without it the case will head back to court.

Mediation is often turned to in such complex cases, and can provide a way for the parties to be heard.  As opposed to a ruling in favor of either party, mediation, instead, works through each issue within the case.  All parties needs are identified and negotiated.  Legal fees are drastically lowered [imagine the costs of just the discovery portion of this case!].  Long, drawn out public court cases can be avoided.  In high profile cases, confidentiality can be maintained, and the media storm can be better managed as well.

Contact the experts at MDRS if you are involved with a situation that needs resolution.  MDRS has skilled and knowledgeable neutrals who are experts in Alternative Dispute Resolution matters.  (800) 536-5520 We can help.

Brian R. Jerome on Trial Court Steering Committee

Brian R. Jerome Invited to Trial Court Standing Committee on Dispute Resolution and the Process Steering Committee for Strategic Planning

As a Court Approved ADR Provider, MDRS, specifically our Director, Brian Jerome, was invited by the Trial Court Standing Committee on Dispute Resolution and the Process Steering Committee for Strategic Planning to attend on May 9, 2013 in Worcester, Massachusetts a meeting on the broad Strategic Planning process underway for changes in the Trial Court.  This meeting was to seek feedback from stakeholders and approved ADR providers about the Trial Court’s strategic plan for the future. An outside consulting firm has been retained to provide a comprehensive plan to the Trial Court on needed changes to improve their delivery of services effectively and efficiently to Court consumers.The provision of ADR services, the use of approved providers, pro bono providers and other groups, funding, and the prior success of, and need for improvements in, the Courts use of conciliation, mediation, arbitration and other ADR processes was discussed and input was provided by the ADR stakeholders present. Recommendations from the ADR providers present included the need for more early conciliation sessions, mandatory or presumptive conciliation and the need for the Judiciary, from the top down, to more effectively promote and direct cases to conciliation and other ADR processes.  When the draft report is produced, MDRS will provide it to our clients and users.

Neutral Thomas B. Arnold, Esq. is Retiring

Thomas B. Arnold, Esq.As of July 1st, neutral Thomas B. Arnold, Esq. is retiring.  A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Mr. Arnold began his law career as a civil litigation attorney before starting his own firm, Arnold & Kangas, PC, in 1983.  During his years as an attorney, he handled a vast range of civil litigation cases.  He began practicing ADR in 1989 and has been chosen as arbitrator or mediator in well over 1,800 cases. Since 2001, he has worked exclusively as a neutral.  It has been a pleasure working with Tom over the years, and although both his colleagues and clients will be sad to see him moving on to the next step in his journey, knowing that it will include spending more time with his children and grandchildren surely enables us to celebrate this accomplishment!  We are very grateful for the years Tom served on the MDRS Panel of Neutrals and wish him all the best in his retirement.

Using ADR to Resolve Slip and Fall Accidents

Premise liability occurs when injury is suffered on property belonging to another person or business.  Whether it is the conditions of the land, or activities performed, issues often arise in determining fault. When personal injury occurs it is often the first response to assign causality for the accident, but it can be difficult to prove whether the fault is on the injured party or the owner of the property where the injury occurred – often times there is no clear answer.  Using Alternative Dispute Resolution to reach an agreeable settlement in these types of cases is often the best choice for both parties.

Slip and fall accidents, in particular, are common occurrences.  According to the National Safety Council, slip and fall accidents account for 1 million visits to the ER per year. While the repercussions of slip and fall accidents can vary from minor scrapes and bruises to serious injuries, the accidents often leave the victim in physical and/or emotional pain.  If you are the victim of a slip and fall, or if you are the owner or resident of the location where the accident occurred, consider this:  litigation is often not the best way to handle the incident. When brought to trial, slip and fall cases are highly uncertain and can result in a long, drawn-out process with an extremely unpredictable outcome. Often times, fault is shared and an accident is just that – an unfortunate accident.  With litigation, both parties are subjected to a long, grueling and costly trial that can be avoided by instead utilizing ADR.

As the victim, you are experiencing pain and suffering, and yet during a trial you must prove that the property owner’s negligence caused the accident — not a simple or comfortable task, especially if you wish to preserve the relationship.  As the property owner, you likely feel badly that someone was injured, and are just as anxious to resolve the issue.  With Alternative Dispute Resolution, your case can be heard, and it can be resolved quickly and fairly, with an outcome agreeable to all parties.   MDRS has skilled and knowledgeable neutrals, with a wide breadth of experience in premise liability and slip and fall cases. Contact us at (800) 536-5520.  We’ll help you come to a settlement quickly, easily, and inexpensively.

Deaths from Workplace Injuries Honored in Boston

This past April, the Massachusetts State House honored those who died from workplace injuries in 2012. Nearly 100 advocates came together on April 26 in honor of Workers Memorial Day to pay their respects to 32 people who recently lost their lives to workplace injuries.  The numbers have fortunately been on the decline, down from 58 deaths in 2011.

Workplace injuries and occupational diseases often go unreported and are typically tragic accidents. Of those honored on April 26th, were Freddie Clay, a 42-year-old truck driver who died last year working on a brake problem, and Michael Ledoux, also 42, a mechanic who was run over by a coworker.  Investigations into Ledoux’s death were still ongoing almost a year after the tragedy occurred, but has been ruled an accident.  The memorial included prayer, speeches and a moment of silence.

Massachusetts Dispute Resolution Services has considerable experience mediating and arbitrating workplace injuries.  If you are involved with a case of this type, consider contacting MDRS at (800) 536-5520 to find out how you can use Alternative Dispute Resolution to help you resolve your matter.

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.