Friday, July 26, 2013

Motor City Mediation?

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, who is overseeing the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, has proposed appointing a federal district judge as mediator to negotiate the most difficult disputes in trying to resolve some $18 billion in Detroit's bond and pension obligations. Proposed restructuring of obligations sparked outrage from city retirees whose pensions and benefits could be cut drastically. Judge Rhodes tapped Hon. Gerald Rosen, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, to oversee any confidential mediation or another mediator of Judge Rosen's choosing. That way, Judge Rosen can mediate disputes or appoint other mediators, with the costs shared by the negotiating parties. Details about the mediation talks would not be disclosed, but any agreements would be made public. Next month, Judge Rhodes will consider deadlines for the city to file its formal plan for repaying its obligations and for rejecting collective bargaining agreements. Bankruptcy judges often utilize mediators as a way to bring together parties in private who might find it difficult to reach a consensus through a more open court process. Judge Rhodes also proposed an order appointing an examiner to review fees to be paid by Detroit. See stories here: and

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Join me next month at Professional Mediation Institute!

On August 21, 2013 in Orlando, Florida the Professional Mediation Institute or PMI will conduct its fourth annual education program. This year, each program will be recorded, and all attendees will be provided with access to the recordings. Though it is impossible to attend two sessions at once, this format ensures attendees can gain access to fulfill their entire Continuing Mediator Education (CME) requirement with one seminar registration. In addition to plenary sessions, three simultaneous programs will be presented during each hour. With a multitude of experts from around the country, this program will focus on specific areas of interest. I will be speaking on commercial mediation intricacies. There are two programs on domestic violence in mediation, three programs on mediator ethics, and an outstanding program on diversity concerns. For Florida mediators, CME credits in these disciplines is required; these topics are a great tool for all great mediators regardless of CME requirements.See more details here: and my speaker bio,%20Lawrence%20%202013.pdf Look forward to seeing you next month!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Concussion case by NFL players heads to Mediation

A federal case brought by former National Football League players that accuses the league of hiding dangers of concussions has been ordered to mediation. A pending motion to dismiss the case will be taken under advisement until September, giving the mediator time to bring the sides closer together. United States District Court Judge Anita Brody of Pennsylvania, ordered a retired federal judge to serve as mediator in the case. Players have charged that the league concealed for decades what it knew about the long-term effects of repeated hits to the head. The NFL maintains it issued warnings consistent with medical research available at the time. Additionally, the league contends player safety is governed by collective bargaining agreements. Each side has made strong arguments, but there is incentive to settle early. Though the owners have greater ability to absorb legal fees, discovery over a period of years could unearth evidence that might hurt the league’s reputation. Likewise, retired players, many of whom have significant health concerns, may prefer to settle sooner for less. Without a ruling, the scope of the case remains wide, involving players from decades ago, as well as those who retired recently. “Presumably, the [mediator] is experienced and he can give both sides an appraisal of the case from the perspective of someone who’s sat on the bench,” said Matthew Mitten, director of Marquette University's National Sports Law Institute. “It doesn’t hurt to take a step back and take a reality check.” See full article here--

Thursday, July 4, 2013

America's Cup Mediation Stalls

In a sport of titans filled with rules, legal battles are inevitable. With the opening of the preliminary Vuitton Cup approaching, New Zealand is protesting rule changes following the death of British sailor Andrew Simpson whose catamaran capsized. Changes to the 72-foot cats are said to potentially lead to more injuries, as a rule now allows for elevators to extend beyond the beam of the boats. New Zealanders say they built their boat under a set a rules that now has been changed-- cutting their competitive advantage. The America's Cup organization claims boats will be legal whether they use the new rudder configuration or the old one. A recent mediation aimed at reaching agreement on implementing safety recommendations previously issued by the regatta's director ended after four days. Teams reportedly agreed on the vast majority of the safety recommendations which was thought to be a useful and positive exercise that left only a couple of points unresolved. All 37 recommendations developed in consultation with the teams following the fatal capsize will remain part of the permit application submitted to the US Coast Guard. Iain Murray said it was useful to hear the teams’ perspective on safety from a competitive viewpoint. “As Regatta Director, I have a clear task. For me, safety means safety for everyone. Full stop. I stand behind all of the original recommendations to increase safety...I look forward to working with the Coast Guard, teams and other stakeholders to ensure we run a safe and successful America’s Cup this summer.” Hopefully, the winds of accord will pick up before racing commences Sunday. See and and and