In our line of work, we work on dozens of mediation cases every year. However, like many other professionals, we are not at liberty to discuss our cases in public forums such as this one due to reasons of confidentiality and privacy. When we get questioned about past experiences, we often resort to fabricating names or situations in order to explain the process. Due to the same reasons, it can be difficult to measure trends in the field of mediation and its effectiveness and adoption in various kinds of disputes. One way to track such trends is to follow the number of cases where mediation is reported publicly in news channels. Analyzing the content of these cases as well as comments from the participants regarding their levels of satisfaction can provide insight regarding the nature and success of the mediation effort.
The Kleen Energy explosion case is a good example. On February 7, 2010, a natural gas explosion resulted in the deaths of six factor workers and injuries to several others. Workers’ compensation regulators issued $16 million in fines and dozens of other violations at the plant. The facility has since been completed renovated and is about to re-start the plant and sell electricity to its customers soon. Roughly 30 lawsuits involving 60+ clients have been filed against Kleen Energy.
In order to achieve faster settlement, both parties have agreed to work with a mediator – in this case Judge Robert Holzberg from the Superior Court in Middletown. The first session will happen on July 18th. According to a leading industry source, both sides are reported to be confident in the mediation process and the initial session identifying the rules of the process was satisfactory.
The primary motivation is to settle the case to avoid a large amount of litigation. Mediation in such cases serves the dual purpose saving the parties time and money, as well as saving the public court’s time and resources.
As expected, the parties do not plan on discussing the progress with the mediation once the sessions start. Mediation in such cases can last several weeks. We will track the progress on these and other cases and report on this blog on a periodic basis.