Thursday, October 2, 2014

Upchurch Speaks on Future of Mediation

Alternative Dispute Resolution pioneer John Upchurch of the firm Upchurch Watson White & Max shared his insights on the future of mediation at the Orange County Bar's ADR Committee Luncheon CLE today in Orlando. He was appointed by the Supreme Court of Florida as a charter member of the Supreme Court Committee on Mediation and Arbitration in 1989 and has been resolving disputes ever since. Upchurch opines that injecting creativity into the process could lead to future trends including non-traditional methods in Florida such as Early Neutral Evaluation or even so-called "Night" Baseball Arbitration. He also sees a potential for growth in E-Neutral services with the advent of E-Discovery rules and the need for stronger case management. As for the more typical types of cases, recent case law invalidating caps on medical malpractice damages and the start of new construction projects should lead to more opportunities to employ ADR services in the coming year. Upchurch also commented on the effects of lack of preparation for mediation and down-streaming of cases that need settling, including more follow-up and possibly reconvening parties and counsel. Finally, a discussion was had about the use of Special Magistrates in state court, much like Special Masters in federal court, to streamline discovery and enable quick decisions in a complex case to be made without judicial intervention beyond ratification or rejection of reports and recommendations.