Mediation: a way to avoid the crapshoot of litigation

As I wrote last time, ten days ago, Joe Nocera wrote an article for the New York Times Business section titled “Justice, Without The System.” In it, he described an interview he had with Kenneth R. Feinberg about Feinberg’s work related to the BP oil spill in the Gulf and claims made against the company for damages.

The article describes Feinberg’s work as coming up with “solutions that prevent large national traumas … from tying up the courts for years on end in litigation that winds up frustrating everyone except the lawyers.”  An especially pertinent example was cited: the Exxon Valdez case. It took over 20 years to complete, some 20% of victims had died by the time that claims were paid, and it was reported that the average payment to victims was $15,000.  In other cases, plaintiffs may feel that they have a strong case and still end up with nothing. As Mr. Nocera summed it up: “To put it bluntly, litigation is a crapshoot.”

Although these disasters involve a certain of loss and lawsuit, the risks of litigation are real with respect to any type of claim. Time, expense, uncertainty, and stress are important costs that are often overlooked in the zeal to  pursue a lawsuit. Mediation can help potential court adversaries rationally consider these costs and allow parties to make a more reasoned decision about their own self-interest.

Posted in ADR: Dispute Resolution Processes, Conflict Resolution in the News, Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

  • Categories