Mediation, Arbitration, Claims Evaluation & Consulting Services
Mediation is a process where the parties to a dispute engage the services of a neutral mediator to help them resolve the dispute- to reach a settlement. Mediation is not a magic bullet- to work the parties need to be honest and recognize, with the mediator’s help, the strengths and weaknesses of their positions. The parties have to be willing to compromise and listen to the other side’s story. The mediator listens to each party’s position and helps the party understand the strength’s and weaknesses of its case. The mediator will review with both parties his assessment of that party’s position. I’ve seen mediations where this is the first time a party has had to confront its own weaknesses and hear the other side’s story. I believe that the job of the mediator is ultimately help the parties reach a realistic understanding of the issues and with that understanding try to find a resolution. Mediation is a confidential process and the mediator can not be required to disclose what the parties said in confidence.
I’ve seen mediations settle the unresolvable case and I’ve seen mediations blow up and leave the parties further apart. To be successful the mediator must first understand each party’s position and then convene that position to the other side. The mediator needs to be able to help each party with its evaluation of the case. The mediator helps each party define and prioritize its objectives and help each party realize its important goals. A successful mediation involves taking a win-win attitude. When successful the parties can resolve the dispute, feeling that they accomplished something. Often the process can allow the parties to confront the emotions and feelings that are behind or part of the dispute and start the healing process.
I work with the parties to establish the ground rules for the mediation. Prior to the mediation, I request the parties provide me with background information. I’ll take to the attorneys (or parties if unrepresented) and get their recommendations for the process. Sometimes the parties need to spend part of the time together with the mediator; in other cases that won’t work, and the mediator uses shuttle diplomacy. I’m a facilitator, the mediation belongs to the parties, my job is to help them work through the negotiations. Mediation can occur at any time through the dispute, early or late, as part of a court directed settlement discussion or a voluntary attempt by the parties to settle.
I’ve spent my legal career handling a variety of case types. I am willing to mediate construction cases, fire and property casualty losses, personal injury cases, insurance coverage issues and business disputes. I also will mediate family law cases, through a court annexed process.
Arbitration is a process where the parties agree to allow a neutral third party, the arbitrator, hear the dispute- like a trial and enter a decision. The arbitrator takes the place of ta judge in a court proceeding. In construction and many types of contracts and business relationships the parties agree up front, that their disputes will be resolved by binding arbitration. Arbitration offers a quicker and normally less expensive alternative to the judicial system. In some contracts the parties agree to use an arbitrator form a particular organization like the American Arbitration Association or have a process of picking an arbitrator themselves. The parties may agree to rules in advance such as the AAA Construction Arbitration Rules or negotiate those with the Arbitrator. I am available to be directly retained by the parties as an arbitrator. I am in the process of completing the process for to be a member of the AAA Arbitration Panel. I am available to arbitrate any matter normally filed in the civil litigation system; my background is very strong in construction disputes, products liability, highway design and construction cases, power grid cases and business or insurance disputes.
Certain types of claims are difficult to evaluate. Construction claims in particular have issues relating to liability and proof of damages. In performing claims evaluation, I act like a mediator, only with one party. I look at your claim, review it with the attorney and help determine the strengths and weaknesses of that claim. The end product is normally a recommendation as to the reasonable damages the party should seek. I will also perform these services for a defendant, helping evaluate the plaintiff’s claim.
I’ve run my own business and helped manage a national company. I’ve had the opportunity to teach MBA classes and lecture to business students. I will consult with business on general issues. This type of consulting may be helpful to new companies and startups. I have considerable experience in the international marketplace and am a member of the Iowa District Export Council- a Commerce Department affiliate that helps US firms export goods and services. My second and more specialized are of consulting services relate to matters of export and import and starting an international operation.