MDRS Welcomes David A. Mills to the Neutral Panel

Judge David MillsIt is our great pleasure to announce the appointment of Judge David A. Mills to the MDRS Panel of Neutrals. Judge Mills’ remarkable background includes his service at the Massachusetts Appeals Court from 2001 to 2012. He has since then provided case evaluations in appellate matters, trial litigation matters, Single Justice practice, and pre-trial consultatons with a goal toward exploring alternative methods of dispute resolution. He is trained and experienced in ADR in its varied modes, receiving training with Professor Roger Fisher at the Harvard Negotiation Project in 1989. Judge Mills has also participated in extensive mediation training with MWI and MCLE in Boston, and has acted as a mediator in the Salem, Haverhill, Gloucester, East Boston and South Boston divisions of the Massachusetts Trial Court. He volunteers with SERV (State Employees Responding as Volunteers), primarily in the Middlesex and Suffolk Probate and Family Courts. Judge Mills is a member of the Trial Court Committee on ADR and was recently appointed to the Massachusetts Bar Association’s ADR Committee; he also serves as a Commissioner on the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission. Prior to his appointment to the Massachusetts Appeals Court, Judge Mills was a lawyer with a practice based in Boston and Danvers, maintaining private offices for thirty-two years. As a lawyer, his court appearances were diverse in many courts. His practice concentrated on zoning and land use and, for a time, criminal defense and “people in trouble.” He has been involved in a wide range of cases and represented many angles in disputes, from land disputes between opposing neighbors and “small-town fights”, to sellers, buyers, owners and developers in real estate matters. As a veteran of 47 years in the courts, Judge Mills is an advocate for mediation as an integral first response to disputes before time consuming, expensive litigation. Judge Mills has said that “in mediation, the parties seek a resolution that gives each something of value, often a resolution that saves time, money, and minimizes damage to relationships.” His work has given him substantive grounds as an advocate for ADR who will continue to enrich the practice with his many years of experience. We are very excited to have his services available to MDRS clients.

MDRS Welcomes Ralph Cecere to the Neutral Panel

3b9cf07We are so pleased to welcome Attorney Ralph N. Cecere to the MDRS Panel of Neutrals. Attorney Cecere is a seasoned practitioner with over 24 years of experience in the trial court and administrative agencies. He has handled over 200 cases taken to trial in the Superior and District Courts. During his years as a practicing attorney, most recently at Ralph N. Cecere, P.C., Ralph has represented insurance companies, small businesses and plaintiffs, acting as lead counsel in jury trials, binding arbitrations, and settlement conferences. Previously, Ralph handled litigation and trial work for a large insurance defense practice in a variety of contract and tort cases with substantial active caseload. Attorney Cecere’s career has encompassed a wide range of insurance coverage matters for auto, homeowners and causality. He also practices criminal defense as a Bar Advocate in Essex County. He has been admitted to the Massachusetts Bar and the New Hampshire Bar, and is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association. Attorney Cecere brings thorough, hands-on knowledge and experience to his specialties in Insurance, Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation-related areas. We are very happy to have Attorney Cecere join the MDRS Panel of Neutrals, and we look forward to having him assist MDRS clients achieve resolution of their disputes.

Mediation: Achieving Success

How can participants maximize their chances for a successful outcome in mediation? While there are many worthwhile opinions and no shortage of advice, the simple virtue of civility can advance your negotiations in a powerful way.
Overlooked in so many cases is the personal factor. There are reports, claims, medical bills, evidence to be collected. There are usually emotions that further complicate each situation, and always in unique ways. Quite often there is never a direct or seemingly appropriate opportunity for one side to say to the other: “I’m sorry this happened,” an offer of sympathy, or even a kind word. Easy to forget in our world of work and facts and responsibilities is that bringing personal touches such as kindness, friendliness, and receptiveness to traditionally business-focused circumstances can have astounding impact. This is a hidden treasure of a key to help unlock your successful mediation.

While most attorneys and other professionals who participate in mediations display similar traits of civility and courtesy during the mediation process, too often, perhaps in the pursuit of zealous advocacy for the client or their case, an attorney, representative or party, usually in the initial opening joint session, makes comments that cross a line and offend, demean, or alienate their opponent. One should consider that these initial comments at the joint session often set a tone for the hours that follow. Such offending comments become counterproductive to the process and the mediator’s work. Because of these comments, excessive and valuable time becomes required thereafter for the mediator to stabilize the person(s) offended by these comments, often in private caucuses, and make them receptive to compromise and the willingness to show the flexibility needed for a successful outcome. Our experience is that less Rambo and more Dale Carnegie, will significantly improve your odds for a successful mediated resolution.

Don’t confuse civility with weakness. Attorneys, representatives and parties must be able to clearly state their positions as to all relevant issues that arise during a mediation. How and when they do so at a mediation, however, is the issue. We see more and more that experienced trial attorneys, with track records of success as fervent client advocates at trial, are choosing to leave their hatchets at home and making ever briefer and less contentious opening comments at the initial joint mediation session, knowing that the mediation process differs greatly from trial.

Most mediators recognize that for many parties a mediation can be viewed as their “day in court” and they may be used to, or expect, that their counsel in opening comments will passionately attempt to vanquish their opponent. However, experienced counsel will advise their clients of what mediation is and isn’t, and that their opening comments may not be what the client would hear at a trial. Many comments or arguments that could offend the opponent if made at the outset in the open joint session can be shared with the mediator later in private caucuses. Often a mediator may have a better sense of how and when such arguments could then be made most effectively and productively to the opponent.

As Mary Wortley Montagu said well: “Civility costs nothing and buys everything.”

Our expert mediators can help you and your clients resolve even the most contentious of conflicts. Visit us at www.mdrs.com or call us at (800) 536-5520 to learn more about how we can help you achieve the results you need.

MDRS Presents ADR Techniques to Nigerian…

MDRS is honored to again have been asked to present on alternative dispute resolution to a high-level delegation from Nigeria visiting the United States seeking out information on ADR so that they can further such implementation in their country. This is the third year that MDRS will have the honor of working with this admirable group of dedicated policy-makers. The presenting panel, featuring veteran MDRS Neutrals Attorney Brian R. Jerome and Attorney Paul R. Kelley, will again be joined by Massachusetts Superior Court’s Associate Justice Dennis J. Curran.  We are delighted to welcome Massachusetts Superior Court’s Associate Justice Shannon Frison to our group presentation this year as well. The event on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 will include a number of esteemed, high-level Nigerian Judges and Attorneys traveling to the United States to work with the University of Massachusetts Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development who desire in-depth information about ADR and how it can help their country and their judicial process. MDRS is very pleased that such a distinguished group will join us for this noble and interesting discussion. We are excited for the event and to share the numerous benefits of ADR with those around the world.

MDRS Launches Foreclosure Mediation Program

MDRS is excited to bring our valuable knowledge and experience of out-of-court dispute resolution to the City of Lynn Foreclosure Mediation Program. This groundbreaking program has been created to give Lynn homeowners and their lenders an opportunity to find mutually beneficial alternatives to foreclosure. The goals of the program are to prevent foreclosure, keep Lynn families in their homes, and prevent vacant and abandoned houses from negatively impacting property values and destabilizing Lynn neighborhoods.

The City of Lynn is working exclusively with MDRS to use mediation as a means of exploring alternatives to foreclosure. These alternatives include retention options such as loan modification, repayment plan, reinstatement, or forbearance agreement, and non-retention options such as a short sale, deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure, or consent foreclosure.

In foreclosure mediation, experienced and impartial MDRS neutrals, who have been specially trained in foreclosure mediation, work to facilitate communication and negotiations between the homeowner and lender. The solutions may vary for each situation, but the end goal is the same – to avoid foreclosure and find an outcome that works for both the homeowner and the lender.

The City of Lynn Foreclosure Mediation Program is limited to residential, owner-occupied properties that are currently the homeowner’s primary residence. Foreclosures of non-residential, investment, or commercial property are not eligible for this program. MDRS will be notified by the City of Lynn when a lender files a Notice to Cure with Lynn City Solicitors, per their city Ordinance.  MDRS and Lynn United for Change, the mediation program’s loan counseling and advocacy group, will immediately notify the homeowner and lender about participating in the program.

Eligible homeowners in Lynn will receive an easily recognizable gold envelope from MDRS in conjunction with the foreclosure mediation program. These envelopes bear the MDRS and City of Lynn logos and are easily distinguishable from other materials that may be received outside of the program.  Homeowners should be vigilant of foreclosure rescue scams promising relief from foreclosure for fees.

If you would like more information, please call Sheri Stevens at (800) 536-5520 or e-mail Sheri at sstevens [at] mdrs.com.

Jeanne M. Kempthorne selected for Super Lawyers

We are pleased to announce that one of our distinguished neutrals, Jeanne M. Kempthorne, has been recently selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers 2013 by Thomson Reuters.

Super Lawyers is a rating system for lawyers in a range of practice areas that uses a patented multiphase selection method to choose only the best attorneys to hold the title. The rigorous and discerning selection process includes peer nominations, evaluations of professional achievement and third-party research to ultimately choose only the most exceptional attorneys in each practice area. Super Lawyers provides a comprehensive listing of esteemed attorneys, an unmatched database for those seeking quality legal counsel.

We are proud to have Attorney Kempthorne on the MDRS team, and hope you will join us in celebrating this much deserved accolade. You too can work with this super lawyer, who is available to help you mediate or arbitrate your cases by calling MDRS at (800) 536-5520.

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.

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.