Thursday, April 27, 2017

United Settles With Passenger

Perhaps in unexpectedly quick fashion, Plaintiff Dr. David Dao settled today with United Airlines after he was and randomly selected and removed from an oversold flight to make room for commuting crew members. His lawyers claimed he suffered a concussion, broke his nose and lost teeth during the ordeal. Dao can be seen hitting his head on an armrest and later with blood on his face in cell phone videos posted by other passengers on the flight. The company has since promised it will no longer use officers to forcibly remove paying customers from its flights. The incident occurred on April 9th and has caused a huge backlash against the airline on social media ever since. Early settlements are possible when both sides have problems. Typically, such lawsuits would take some time to reach a conclusion. There were some accounts of the passenger resisting and other things allegedly in his past that may have affected his ability to recover damages. Initially, United referred to Dao as "disruptive and belligerent," and praised employees for following "established protocols." United was obviously keen on mitigating public opinion damage after so much outrage by the traveling public was expressed online. Surely, this will be a future case study for public relations and risk management. In an official statement, United said they reached "an amicable resolution of the unfortunate incident that occurred aboard flight 3411. We look forward to implementing the improvements we have announced, which will put our customers at the center of everything we do." There is no shame in early resolution on either side and the deal is to remain confidential. Still, there will be plenty of speculation on whether the payment was large or small and if it even contained a non-monetary component, such as free future travel. See more here-- and and

Sunday, April 16, 2017

NCAA Student Athlete Settlement Site This Summer

The NCAA and eleven Division I conferences agreed to create a nearly $209 million fund for the benefit of current and former NCAA Division I Basketball and Football Bowl Subdivision student athletes to settle the monetary claims portion of the grant-in-aid class-action lawsuit. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken has granted preliminary approval to the proposed settlement of a lawsuit related to the difference in the value of a traditional college athletic scholarship and a new version that covers the full cost of attendance. The deal aims to provide money to about five years' worth of men’s basketball, women’s basketball and football players whose scholarships were limited by NCAA rules to basically tuition, room, board, books and fees. The judge wanted to create a procedure under which athletes could either dispute the amounts they would receive or claim that they are entitled to a share of the settlement if they are not initially identified as being covered by the agreement. As such, a website will be established that will allow athletes to see an estimate of the amount of money to which they would be entitled if the settlement receives final approval. The settlement does not impact another claim challenging the NCAA’s cost-of-attendance-based limits on the compensation athletes can receive while playing college sports. In those cases, the plaintiffs are seeking an injunction that would nullify the current limits. Athletes identified as being entitled to settlement money will be notified by mail, beginning in early August, but they also will be able call, email or write the claims administrator if they believe they should be covered and they do not receive the notification. The agreement maintains cost of attendance as an appropriate dividing line between collegiate and professional sports. The NCAA and conferences maintain they only settled this case because the terms are consistent with Division I financial aid rules, which allow athletics-based aid up to the full cost of obtaining a college education. See more here-- and

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Early Neutral Evaluation: Alternative to Evaluative Mediation

In the latest issue of The Florida Bar ADR Section's New & Tips, I explore a type of Alternative Dispute Resolution that is more often used outside Florida. Early Neutral Evaluation or ENE is evolving as an effective form of ADR, given the continued high cost of litigation. This process is a corollary of mediation that puts the neutral in the role enhancing direct communication between the parties about their claims and supporting evidence. ENE can provide an assessment on the merits of the case by a neutral expert in an early reality check for clients and lawyers alike. This helps to identify and clarify the central issues in dispute, assist with discovery (including E-discovery) and can streamline case management. Early Neutral Evaluation can: - Enhance direct communication between the parties about their claims and supporting evidence; - Provide an assessment of the merits of the case by an experienced legal neutral, amounting to a reality check for clients and lawyers; - Identify core issues in dispute while assisting with discovery planning (including electronically stored information); and - Facilitate settlement discussions when requested by the parties before the evaluation. A court-appointed neutral with expertise in the subject matter typically hosts an informal meeting of clients and counsel, once the parties request ENE. Following presentations consisting of a confidential exchange of factual information, the evaluator identifies areas of agreement, clarifies the issues and encourages the parties to enter into any stipulation or agreement that is feasible, including settlement. The parties’ formal discovery, disclosure and motion practice rights are fully preserved. The confidential evaluation is not shared with the trial court. If no settlement is reached, the case remains in litigation, but likely with the litigants better informed as to the risks, amount of work still necessary and the monetary estimate of continuing toward trial. Read more here--