Imagine you filed a lawsuit in 2019 for breach of contract. At the time, you were certain you were right. You hired attorneys, explained the facts, and believed wholeheartedly that your position would most certainly prevail. Your attorneys filed your case and you started the march down the litigation trail. Your opponent probably answered, maybe some dispositive motions were filed, and you entered the most time consuming and laborious phase of litigation: discovery.
About half way through, news outlets started talking about a new virus emerging out of China. While novel, you didn’t think much of it as its sister virus SARS had a negligible impact in the United States. But the whispers about this virus soon turned into yells. Businesses were shutting down, government quarantines were put in place, and all of the sudden life as you know it was completely turned on its head.
After coming to terms with the “new normal” and being able to turn your attention back to everyday matters, you quickly realize that your lawsuit has ground to a complete halt. Your court has entered an emergency order delaying all proceedings pending further information related to COVID-19. You’ve likely spent six figures in costs and expenses and now there is no clear outcome in sight. Right or wrong, without a forum to present your case, the facts are now irrelevant. Your only real recourse is to pay your attorneys to keep the case alive pending a medical breakthrough that dislodges your court’s docket. Even then, you may be staring at multiple years of additional delay as your court works through the ensuing backlog of cases and the avalanche of new and urgent cases filed during the pandemic (for example: evictions). You’re frustrated, possibly scared, and really just want resolution. It is no longer about winning, and more about maximizing a potential outcome and removing yourself from the quicksand.
To be clear, this scenario is not hypothetical. It is playing out across the country right now. It is not the fault of the courts. Quite simply, no one could have accurately predicted, much less prepared for, our current reality. That said, while you might have felt hyper-confident in your case at the start (fairly or not), right now you are feeling eminently more reasonable and just want a way out. Well there is a way…through mediation.
Mediation is a process where a neutral party, known as a mediator, engages both parties involved in a dispute and, without judging the merits of the case, attempts to get both parties to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. The mediator goes from room to room helping each party to recognize their case’s strengths and weaknesses. By doing so, the mediator can slowly whittle at the parties’ positions until there is enough common ground to reach a settlement. Moreover, there is a little known form of mediation that, provided no mutually agreeable settlement is reached, allows for the mediator to issue a binding judgment in favor of one party or the other. And all of this can be accomplished in a matter of days or weeks.
Traditionally mediations are conducted in-person, but given their relative simplicity, they are also uniquely positioned to be effective digitally. With the right technology partner, stalled litigants can enter a mediation and be done with the entire process in short order. None of this is fantasy. It can be done quickly, effectively and soon. You can reach a settlement or receive a binding decision and get back to the growth of your business. Now doesn’t that sounds pretty good after months or years of stalled litigation?
If you want help, New Era ADR is the newest and most progressive technology player in this field. We are creating technology solutions intended to resolve disputes. We can help get you unstuck and back focused on what is important.