Miles Mediation & Arbitration Services

ATLANTA OFFICE:
6 Concourse Pkwy., Suite 1950

Atlanta, GA 30328
(678) 320-9118

SAVANNAH OFFICE:
17 Park of Commerce Blvd.
Suite 301

Savannah, GA 31405
(912) 417-2879
All Fax: (404) 389-0831

September 27, 2017 No Comments

by Matthew Thiry, Esq.

Growing up playing baseball, I constantly heard coaches repeating to batters “keep your eye on the ball.”  This advice applies equally to business, and has the same consequences if not followed.  Inevitably, business clients are distracted by litigation matters, taking their eye off the ball, and, as a result, the costs can be immeasurable.   When business leaders are focused on litigation instead of generating revenue, businesses suffer.

Even in situations where good legal advice and good business practices are followed, business litigation can become an unavoidable distraction.  Business litigators frequently witness clients losing focus because of a dispute.  This could result in hard-fought battles with little to show in return, and can take a previously-successful company and plunge it into a downward spiral.  Once in this spiral, a client can quickly focus its frustration on counsel, frequently unjustly, and question its own previously approved litigation strategies.  Mediation provides an opportunity to mitigate the distraction, and a means through which the parties can resolve disputes and refocus on getting their business back to business.

Recognizing the distraction does not mean counseling businesses to run from or cave in the face of a dispute.  Instead, it means these disputes need to be managed like other business matters.  Business owners and executives like to be in control, and mediation provides them a non-binding opportunity to explore resolution while exercising that control.  Business clients often look beyond mediation, underestimate its value, and, instead, focus on other litigation strategies, such as summary judgment, which are time consuming, expensive, and often results in an appeal.

Client pressures regarding unpredictable time and costs consumed by litigation continue to rise.  In addition, all litigants are exposed to risks.  Even when the facts and law appear to support one party, there is a significant risk that a judge or jury may disagree.  In mediation, business litigators can take advantage of their own experiences and negotiation skills to help reach a resolution.  Moreover, business clients are often very sophisticated negotiators.  Why not take advantage of your combined experiences and skills, and craft a resolution that is predictable, controlled, and beneficial, as opposed to the unpredictable results waiting at trial?  There is certainly a time to carry the sword, and you may be forced to carry it.  However, a mediated resolution provides business litigators the opportunity to avail themselves to their clients as a part of the team, an advisor, and not just the muscle that is brought in to “swing for the fences.”

If mediation is viewed as an opportunity, it can resolve the dispute at hand, and can save businesses the opportunity costs that would otherwise be lost because of “taking their eye off the ball.”  If mediation is approached with the goal of managing litigation as a business matter, clients will often find that an acceptable result can be reached.  In the end, business clients want to and need to make money, and mediation provides litigators an opportunity to get clients back to that while minimizing costs and risks.


Matt Thiry, Esq. is a mediator and arbitrator with Miles in Atlanta.  He specializes business, fiduciary, real estate and probate.  To schedule a mediation or arbitration with Matt, please call 678-320-9118 or visit his online calendar.

September 26, 2017 No Comments

by Wayne Wilson, Esq.

Mediation provides the best format for all parties to present their respective positions regarding the issues
being litigated in a case – whether that be liability, damages, causation, or any other element for consideration.  Everyone sitting at the table has the opportunity to discuss, argue, inform, and communicate their thoughts and opinions, without contradiction or objection from the other side.  All facts and issues are ripe for consideration, with or without those pesky legal impediments such as relevancy or admissibility.  That is one of the beauties of the mediation process, i.e., each party having the right and ability to “have their say and tell their story.”

You will notice that what I just stated as the “great positive” of mediation – the parties right and opportunity to speak – fails to include probably the most important part of the mediation process: Listening to what is being said.  It does no good for you to present great arguments if you are not being heard.  And it does no good for the opposing party to present great arguments if you are not listening. If we fail to listen to what the other side has to say and refuse to include their comments, thoughts, opinions, suggestions, and concerns into the final evaluation of the case, we’re not likely to be able to reach a result which is a “win/win” settlement.

The Role of Active Listening

Listening is often the hardest thing to do if you want to do it right. It must be “active” rather than “passive” in nature so that the information being provided assists your decision-making in properly evaluating the case. If you don’t listen intently and with purpose to what the other side is saying, you will not be able to use the information for your benefit. Mediation provides the opportunity to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly.  And that is exactly what you need to obtain a settlement which is to your benefit. I always start a mediation by meeting with the parties separately, in a setting free of distractions, so the focus is entirely on the speaker. It is important to understand the implications of what is being said, not just the content.  And it is important for the speaker to understand, and have confidence, that I am truly listening to what he wants to say.  The main focus is on the participant’s agenda, what the person needs for others to hear.

The next step in the mediation is crucial.  This in the opening caucus, when everyone is in the same room sitting across the table from each other and, may for the first time. This is an opportunity for the parties to have a face-to-face conversation and deal with their issues and concerns. It is imperative (and not to be lost in the equation, “respectful”) to actively listen to what the other side has to say.  And this is a two-way street.

With that being said, if listening is important,  not listening and showing total disinterest is deadly to the
mediation process. An example of this (and unfortunately a true story) is a mediation in which the plaintiff was a no-nonsense, mid-50’s gentleman who was ex-military and had earned and deserved respect and had a “right to be heard.” I told him that this was the opportunity for him to have a frank and honest conversation with the representatives from the insurance company. And that he should simply look them in the eye and speak to them “man-to-man.” He did this exactly, and the insurance representative sat across the table, never made eye contact, sat disengaged, flipped his pen in the air, never acknowledged any statement or comment made, and did not even tell the plaintiff that he appreciated, understood, or even wanted to make efforts to get the case settled. It was a catastrophe. And I nearly lost all credibility as a mediator because it was my suggestion to lay it on the line.

The primary problem when “groups” begin to be dysfunctional, i.e., when the mediation process begins to suffer and fail, is that people simply don’t feel heard or respected, as in the example above.  It is likely that by the time a mediation takes place, a great deal of communication has transpired between attorneys, plaintiffs, family members, claims personnel, the court, etc., but to no avail.  Others have very likely become impatient with the repetition that not listening engenders.  They dismiss whatever is said as repeating the “same old song” or “telling the same story” and may be in the room, but not in the conversation. But at mediation, for the first time in the litigation process, the actual people who are involved and affected by the decisions being made are providing the information. Their positions are not being filtered. Suddenly, the things they have been saying for a long time have more credibility than they had before. And what they have to say has import as to the value of the case. So all either side has to do to get a better understanding of the true value of the case is listen.

Mediation Settlement

Listening to Settle

I recently mediated a case in which the plaintiff (a well-educated, older gentleman, with an excellent work history as an administrator in the county school system) was being completely honest about the injuries he sustained in an accident. He attributed most of his problems to the accident, and it was a case of clear liability. He also had an injury which prevented him from doing something he loved: refurbishing old cars. That may mean very little or nothing to some people, but it meant the world to him.  During the opening remarks by the plaintiff, the defense counsel acknowledged liability and did not try to posture by
discussing “legal” issues which were available, which would have meant little to the plaintiff. The defense counsel listened to what the plaintiff regarding the impact of his loss. More importantly, the defense counsel re-visited that issue late in the mediation–not at the plaintiff’s request, but on his own.  This act listening to what the plaintiff said hours earlier was the bridge to success.  All of the issues, facts, concerns, positions properly raised by the defense and relayed to the plaintiff throughout the mediation were recognized and understood as legitimate factors in determining the value and not just a way to lower the settlement value of the case. It was defense counsel’s listening and proper response to the plaintiff’s issues that got the case settled for a fair settlement value.

Good listening requires:

  • All decision makers in the room
  • No distractions (cell phones, etc.)
  • Full attention
  • Patience
  • A genuine effort to understand

This is a lot to do for a short period and even under the best of circumstances. But it gets results. Mediation is the best moment to get a matter resolved in a timely, cost-efficient, and reasonable fashion. The parties have absolute control. Certainty is assured. All we have to do is listen.


Mediator Wayne WilsonTeam Leader Wayne Wilson, Esq is a mediator and arbitrator with Miles in Atlanta.  He has mediated more than 1,000 cases during his tenure with Miles. He specializes primarily in Premises Liability cases; Commercial Liability claims, Automobile/Trucking, Property Damage, and Subrogation Claims.  To schedule a mediation or arbitration with Wayne, please call 678-320-9118 or visit his online calendar.

September 21, 2017 No Comments
Mediator Bianca Motley Broom

We are thrilled to announce the addition of Bianca Motley Broom, Esq. to our panel. She will mediate personal injury cases in our Atlanta office, as a member of Team Nutter.

In addition to her full-time mediation practice, Bianca will continue to serve as a part-time judge in the Magistrate Court of Fulton County. Before her appointment, she was a Senior Trial Attorney at Allstate Insurance Company for nearly five years, defending the company’s insured in personal injury cases. Prior to joining Allstate, she was an associate at Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young, practicing toxic tort litigation. She has also served as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.

“Bianca unites tremendous professional competence with legal and judicial experience, and she has an incredible ability to bring people together under any circumstances,” said Founder John Miles. “We are delighted to have her on our panel of distinguished neutrals.”

“I am thrilled to join such an outstanding panel of mediators at Miles,” said Bianca. “Through my own litigation practice, I have had the opportunity to mediate with many wonderful neutrals across Georgia. The professionalism and skill of the mediators at Miles, however, stands out. I look forward to being able to collaborate with the best mediators in the business and working to resolve cases as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Bianca is a registered civil mediator in Georgia. She received her Juris Doctorate from Washington University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy Studies and Religion from Duke University. She is also studying for her Master of Business Administration degree from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management (LFGSM) and holds certificates in Change Management and Management Analytics from LFGSM.

Community service is a cornerstone of Bianca’s life. She currently volunteers with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and The Main Street Academy, where she is the immediate past president of the board. She recently participated in the United Way’s South Fulton Community Building Institute and is a member of the Atlanta Bar Association, Gate City Bar Association, National Bar Association, South Fulton Bar Association, Georgia Association for Women Lawyers,  and the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys.


Bianca Motley Broom, Esq. is a mediator with Miles in Atlanta. She specializes in personal injury cases. To schedule a mediation with Bianca or for more information, please call 678-320-9118 or visit her online calendar.

September 19, 2017 No Comments

Mediator Jennifer Grippa, Esq. recently authored an article, “Technology Is Changing the World of Dispute Resolution, for the Daily Report’s annual edition on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

In the article, Jennifer explores the impact technology advancements has had on the ADR industry, and the importance of having a technologically savvy mediator.

Click here to read the entire article, or below:

September 18, 2017 No Comments

Mediator Gino Brogdon, Jr., Esq. recently published the article “Five Things to Help Your Mediation Succeed,” in Daily Report’s annual edition on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

Click here to read the full article, or below:

September 15, 2017 No Comments
Mediator Gino Brogdon, Jr. and NBA Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon

Mediator Gino Brogdon, Jr. recently joined with his brother NBA Rookie of the Year, Malcolm Brogdon, and his mother, Professor Jann Adams, as featured speakers at Morehouse College’s student enrichment event, Crown Forum After Dark.   The trio spoke to Morehouse students and members of the Atlanta community about the importance of goal setting, creating a legacy, the value of sacrifice, and the impact of mentorship.

Gino is a graduate of Morehouse, where his mother serves as a Professor of Psychology and Associate Provost. Malcolm Brogdon is a point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks.


Gino Brogdon, Jr., Esq. is a mediator with Miles in Atlanta. He specializes in areas of automobile and trucking, personal injury, wrongful death, civil rights, business, contracts, insurance coverage disputes, and complex medical malpractice. To schedule a mediation with Gino or for more information, please call 678-320-9118 or visit his online calendar.

 

September 8, 2017 No Comments
Mediator Jennifer Grippa, Esq.

As a featured speaker at the 36th annual Insurance Law Institute, Mediator & Arbitrator Jennifer Grippa shared four critical elements of professionalism for attorneys who want to achieve effective mediation outcomes.

Georgia Supreme Court Supreme
Court Code of Professional Responsibility:

(b) To model for others, and particularly for my clients, the respect due to those we call upon to resolve our disputes and the regard due to all participants in our dispute resolution process.

1. Perspective

Good Faith

  • Put aside stereotypes and prejudgments
  • Own your risk
  • Make a true effort to build trust with the other side
  • Talk less and listen more
  • Admit you can’t predict the outcome
  • Remember your audience
  • Do what you say you’re going to do
  • Share damages documentation in advance
  • Avoid retreating from pre-mediation offers
  • Communicate non-starters in advance

 2. Preparation

  • Prepare as you would for a hearing
  • Know the facts
  • Bring all documents
  • Be prepared to discuss legal issues
  • Bring your “smoking gun”
  • Set reasonable expectations

3. Patience/Perseverance

  • Refrain from acts of impatience
  • Act as you would in court
  • Set client expectations
  • Explain that incremental progress is the norm
  • It is not how the mediation starts, but how it is finished that matters

4. Partnership

  • Partner with your mediator
  • Be honest about client control issues
  • Communicate specific expectations — let the mediator communicate those at the right time and in the best way
  • Give your mediator due regard

 


Jennifer Grippa, Esq. is a mediator and arbitrator with Miles in Atlanta.  She has over 16 years of litigation experience, specializing in construction law. To schedule a mediation or arbitration with Jennifer, please call 678-320-9118 or visit her online calendar.