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Tag: Communication

Who Needs to be There: Personal Injury

{4 minutes to read} As my last blog took all the mystery out of the still almost-new AI phenomenon, we now return to the issue of who needs to be present at a mediation. I have previously addressed this issue regarding construction and divorce cases. The obvious answer to the question of who needs to be present at a mediation would be the parties however, that is not always the case. This is particularly true in personal injury matters where sometimes neither the plaintiff nor the defendant is present.

Since motor vehicle accidents are the most typical personal injury cases, I’ll use those as the basic example. Defendants in personal injury cases are often represented by counsel hired by insurance companies. That attorney is always present, and now that so many mediations are done via Zoom, an insurance adjuster may also attend. The defendant driver? More often than not, he or she is not present, especially if that driver was already deposed. The Plaintiff’s attorney is at the mediation, and certainly the injured plaintiff, right? Maybe. But maybe not. 

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Who Needs to be Present at a Construction Mediation?

{6 minutes to read} This is the first of several blog posts on who needs to be present at a mediation for it to proceed smoothly. A resolution may not be reached even with all the proper players present. But without them, there is no chance. This blog will address construction cases. 

New Home Construction framing

Construction cases come in all sizes. They can arise from putting in a new bathroom to constructing a hundred-story skyscraper. And everything in between. Even small jobs may involve an architect, a GC, and a sub or two. For example, that new bathroom may require electrical work that is done by an electrician who is not an employee of the GC. If there is an electrical issue post-construction, does the electrician need to be present at the mediation? Probably, but has the electrician been sued? Of course, a mediation can be held without starting a lawsuit, which can be extremely useful assuming everyone agrees to participate. Maybe the homeowner and GC can work something out between themselves. In a small job, that’s often possible.

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Can Mediation Turn Back the Clock? – Construction

In my last blog, I addressed mediation turning the clock back and focused on divorce matters. What about other types of disputes?

Reverse clock with wooden frame isolated on white background

Several months ago, I mediated a case involving an upscale medical practice in a very upscale Manhattan coop building. Like most medical offices in such buildings, it was on the ground floor and had suffered from some flooding that the practice believed was the fault of some actions taken by the coop. The case was actually on appeal before the 2d Circuit so one side had already prevailed at the District Court. However, the mediation brought the two sides together for discussions that never would have happened had the parties simply moved ahead with the appeal. It turned out that both sides really wanted to figure out a way to live together since, in fact, they were going to regardless of who prevailed on appeal. Neither the building nor the medical office was going anywhere soon. 

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Can Mediation Turn Back the Clock?

Reverse clock with wooden frame isolated on white background

I’ve written before about what success means in mediation. Often it means a complete resolution of a dispute and the parties can go on their way, having saved lots of time, aggravation, and a bundle in litigation expenses. Even when there is not a complete resolution, mediation often resolves at least part of a dispute or helps the parties significantly lessen the amount of discovery needed as the case moves forward. However, can mediation undo what’s been done? Can it restore the parties to some kind of pre-dispute state of harmony?

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Discovery

Wants Vs Needs - Sticky Notes

{4 minutes to read} I have written before about when is the best time to mediate. No, you don’t have to go back and re-read that blog because the answer is simple: Now. Now is the best time to mediate. 

Does that mean, now, now, or now with some lag time?  Ok, now with a little lag time. A party can’t mediate by itself, so there are by necessity some preliminaries, like getting the other side(s) to participate in the mediation. However, that is becoming easier as more courts increasingly direct the parties to mediation without waiting for an agreement. If you want to see a good example, look at the ADR rules for the Federal District Court for the Western District of New York or the rules for North Carolina State Courts and federal courts: Eastern District of NC, Western District of NC, and Middle District of NC.

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Can a Mediator Really Like Everyone?

Grimacing mime with hands akimbo and mask on head

It’s not uncommon that parties to a mediation don’t like each other, though you can never predict beforehand.  I find that opposing counsel are typically at least cordial to each other and sometimes downright friendly.  Divorcing couples sometimes get along just fine during a mediation.  And I’ve been in situations where the clients, watching their attorneys bicker back and forth, take matters into their own hands and work out a deal between themselves.

Part of the mediator’s job is to be friends with everyone.  If you want to successfully push and cajole, it’s best that people think you’re their friend.  Usually, this isn’t too hard. 

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Does Familiarity Breed Contempt?

Image of Last Will and Testament ready to sign

{3 minutes to read}  Estate battles generally lend themselves to great TV. No, what I really meant to say was that estate battles generally lend themselves to mediation. They take some unpacking since the issues that give rise to them are often years in the making. Maybe decades. There can be distrust, hurt feelings, greed, anger. There are in-laws whose membership in the family may be recent or of long duration. The parties often don’t want to be in the same room with each other, something that mediation – but not the courtroom – can accommodate. 

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Where Is The Best Place To Hold A Mediation?

Image of a well used wooden picnic table in the park

{4 minutes to read} So, where is the best place to hold a mediation?  These days that question is a variation on the question, What should one wear to a mediation? (Answer: Anything from the waist up but be sure to keep your pajama bottoms on). 

I raise this question of locale because of two recent divorce mediations where the answer was: outside in a park or other semi-public place.  In each of these mediations one spouse walked around outside in a park that was sparsely populated.  In one, the other spouse also ended up going outside to talk.  Neither mediation suffered from this.  Indeed, they may have benefited since the outdoor participants felt comfortable, and both mediations were successful.

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Let’s Sue the Bastards!

Image of man hitting his thumb instead of nail

{3 minutes to read}  One of the brighter aspects of economic activity in New York during the Covid pandemic was the ongoing construction activity that took place.  While buildings remained empty and ground floor retail spaces were withering from the lack of business, construction sites always seemed to be buzzing with activity.  Once the need for masks and social distancing was figured out, construction work began opening up much sooner than other businesses.  Of course, large construction projects are years in the making and financing is not contingent on last month’s revenues.  

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Seeing the Light

Open road on abstract screen against door opening revealing light

{3 minutes to read}  Wow, Daylight Savings Time. At last. Was there ever a time we needed some extra light more than now? Even though changing the clock doesn’t really give us more daylight, we all feel better when it’s still light out at 7 pm. Or later. Shedding light on things is generally seen as something good. It implies opening up and understanding. It’s also one of the great aspects of mediation. It’s why mediation works.

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About Us

An honors graduate of Harvard University and the Cardozo Law School of Yeshiva University, where he also served on the Law Review, Gary brings more than 30 years of litigation and negotiation experience to his practice as a mediator. He has successfully negotiated and mediated resolutions in family matters, employment cases, commercial disputes, personal injury cases, and major civil rights matters.

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Phone :- 347.314.2163
Email :- gary@shaffermediation.com