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<xTITLE>Notable U.S. Mediation Cases</xTITLE>

Notable U.S. Mediation Cases

by Keith Seat
February 2010 Keith Seat
Notable Mediation Cases from Around the U.S.

  • After a year of mediation, insurance broker Marsh & McClennan agrees to pay $400 million to settle class action claims of bid-rigging. AmLawDaily (November 13, 2009)

  • Comverse agrees in mediation to pay $225 million to resolve a securities class action case over backdated stock options. The long mediation first determined the amount of settlement and then determined how payment would be made, with a contingency plan in case the initial approach doesn’t work. Out of 39 options backdating class actions, 22 have now settled, nine have been dismissed and nine are still pending. AmLaw Litigation Daily (December 18, 2009)

  • The Kansas Attorney General announced that successful mediation has prevented the closing of the only hospital in Pawnee County. While several due diligence and approval steps remain, transfer of ownership is to be completed by March 1. Hutch (December 23, 2009)

  • A dispute over the terms for ongoing rebroadcast of Sinclair signals over Mediacom stations – including New Year’s bowl games – resulted in mediation that was not immediately successful but was followed by postponement of the December 31 deadline and ultimate agreement. (December 22, 2009); TH Online (December 31, 2009); National (January 7, 2010)

  • San Diego Gas & Electric Co. has begun a four month mediation with county officials, school leaders, consumer advocates and firefighters to determine how to balance cutting power to prevent wildfires against the burden on users of electricity. The California Public Utilities Commission encouraged a better balancing, finding the initial proposal to cut power during certain weather conditions ill-conceived. Sign on San (December 19, 2009)

  • County government and public school officials mediated for ten hours, but could not resolve a dispute over collecting taxes for the school district, which one party lamented was a $7,000 issue that was likely to cost $300,000 to $400,000 to litigate. Beeville Bee (December 21, 2009)

  • A town meeting is scheduled to discuss an agreement reached in mediation between the town and a former secretary who was awarded $1.3 million after suing under the state’s whistleblower act. The town’s insurance will pay at least 50% of the settlement, leaving the town to pay no more than $450,000. The Board of Selectmen must approve any settlement before it is final, but doesn’t plan to act until after the informational town meeting. Norwich Bulletin (December 14, 2009); Norwich Bulletin (December 16, 2009)

  • Mediation over attorneys’ fees yields $190,000 for ACLU’s efforts in bringing a class action against the county for conditions in the county jail. The Canyon County, Idaho board unanimously approved the compromise to keep from further increasing costs. Idaho Statesman (November 19, 2009)

  • Litigation has been filed seeking a new evaluation of the Federal Highway Administration’s plans for the Ohio River Bridges Project, which is likely to cost over $4.1 billion. Both sides have agreed to seek the help of a mediator to try to resolve the matter. Courier-Journal (December 23, 2009) (Subscription Required)

  • Racially motivated attacks on three Asian college students resulted in a confidential agreement between the victims and four attackers after months of mediation. Despite the voluntary nature of the settlement, a national civil rights organization complained about the secrecy of the process and the need for publicizing the consequences to deter similar behavior. Lancaster (December 20, 2009)

  • The mediation program instituted in 2008 for Montana grain shippers to resolve disputes over grain freight rates with BNSF Railway has been triggered by a signed complaint from a wheat producer. Under the program, the issues will be mediated within thirty days and, if not resolved, will then go to binding arbitration. Great Falls Tribune (November 24, 2009)

  • Louisiana is seeking mediation over the refusal of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to use the 60 million tons of sediment dredged from the lower Mississippi River each year to rebuild wetlands due to higher expense. The Coastal Zone Management Act permits a state to seek mediation if federal action is inconsistent with the state’s coastal management plan. Huffington Post (November 24, 2009); (November 29, 2009)

  • Mediation is scheduled between the homeowners of two islands and a local government in Florida about where sand to be dredged from Destin harbor by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should be placed; both islands seek beach replenishment. Destin Log (December 18, 2009)

  • Biography

    Keith L. Seat is a full-time mediator and arbitrator who can effectively assist parties in resolving a wide range of telecommunications, antitrust and other commercial disputes. With over twenty years of legal experience as a mediator, arbitrator, litigator, advocate before executive branch agencies, and key staffer in the legislative and judicial branches, Mr. Seat brings a wealth of experience to his work as a mediator and arbitrator to help parties reach successful resolutions of complex disputes.

    Mr. Seat began his legal career in a federal clerkship with U.S. District Judge William H. Becker, and then litigated antitrust and commercial disputes for many years at a major Washington law firm, Howrey, Simon, Arnold & White, where he first worked on telecom and technology issues. In 1993, Mr. Seat was named General Counsel of the Antitrust, Business Rights and Competition Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, where he served for four years, playing a significant role in the enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Returning to the private sector in 1997, Mr. Seat rounded out his experience with a senior in-house counsel position at MCI, one of the nation’s largest telecommunications firms. At MCI, he gained a first-hand appreciation for the important perspective brought to issues and disputes by in-house decision-makers. Mr. Seat also deepened his knowledge of telecom issues and gained experience addressing competition-related issues in the corporate setting, as well as helping resolve disputes among large organizations.

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