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

October 25, 2017 1 Comment

We are excited to announce that Hon. Susan Forsling was named an “ADR Champion” by the National Law Journal. She is featured in the publication’s 2nd annual ADR Champions special edition, which recognizes individuals for their pioneering spirit, success, and commitment to advancing the practice of alternative dispute resolution.  Susan is the only neutral in Georgia to receive this prestigious distinction this year.

As a team leader at Miles, Susan works tirelessly to produce results for her mediation and arbitration clients. She specializes in cases involving personal injury, premises liability, medical negligence, wrongful death, professional liability, commercial contracts, local government, civil rights, and bad faith insurance claims.

“Susan is well-deserving of this award, and we’re very proud of her,” said Miles founder John Miles.  “She has become the go-to neutral at Miles for attorneys with high value and complex cases and brings the same energy and work ethic to her role as a neutral as she did when she served as a judge. Congratulations to Susan and all of the others named to this elite list.”

The National Law Journal provides in-depth national coverage for private practitioners, judges, corporate lawyers, government attorneys, and the entire legal community.

See below to view the full ADR Champions special edition, or click here.

October 24, 2017 No Comments
Mediator Jennifer Grippa, Esq.

Miles mediator & arbitrator Jennifer Grippa recently presented a CLE on “Effective Mediation Strategies” at the Atlanta-based law firm, Winter Capriola Zenner, which specializes in Commercial and Civil Litigation, Community Association Law, Corporate and Business Transactions, Real Estate and Resort and Land Development.

As Jennifer highlighted in her presentation, mediating construction cases involves far more than passing numbers.  When multiple stakeholders are involved, the interpretation of contracts, insurance policies, indemnity agreements, and third-party claims, negotiating a resolution can have its challenges, but there are strategies that parties and counsel can implement to ensure the mediation is meaningful and has the best possible chance of success.

To review the strategies Jennifer outlined in her presentation, click here. 

 


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.

October 19, 2017 No Comments
Mediation Settlement agreement

by Roy Paul, Esq.

While mediation normally is viewed as a means of avoiding or putting an efficient end to litigation, we are reminded that mediation can simply lead to additional litigation if the parties are not careful to create a clear binding agreement at mediation. The recent case of American Acad. of Gen. Physicians, Inc. et. al. v. LaPlante, 340 Ga.App. 527, 798 S.E.2d 64 (2017) shows what can happen even when the mediated agreement is read into the record in the presence of the trial judge, the parties and their counsel. Despite these measures, an appeal was taken in which the appellants argued that the trial court erred in enforcing the mediated agreement because the appellants’ agents allegedly exceeded their authority in entering into the agreement, an essential term of the agreement was void as against public policy and there was no meeting of the minds between the parties. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s enforcement of the mediated agreement finding that there existed a sufficient meeting of the minds to validate and enforce the agreement, but not without lengthy discussion and reference to the transcript of discussions that occurred between the trial court and counsel for the parties clarifying certain of the terms of the settlement.

The Court in LaPlante noted that in Georgia, settlement agreements are highly favored under the law and will be upheld whenever possible. The Court recognized, however, that:

An agreement between two parties will occur only when the minds of the parties meet at the same time, upon the same subject-matter, and in the same sense.” Cox Broad. Corp. v. Nat’l Collegiate Athletic Ass ’n, 250 Ga. 391, 395, 297 S.E.2d 733 (1982) (citations omitted). “In determining if parties had the mutual assent or meeting of the minds necessary to reach agreement, courts apply an objective theory of intent whereby one party’s intention is deemed to be that meaning a reasonable man in the position of the other contracting party would ascribe to the first party’s manifestation of assent.” Id. “When parties to a contract … know that they have different intents with respect to certain language before they enter into the contract, there can be no meeting of the minds upon the same subject matter and in the same sense and no agreement on that issue.” Id. 340 Ga.App. at 532; 798 S.E.2d at 69-70.

Parties to a mediated agreement should be mindful that a settlement agreement is no different than any other contract and should be very careful to make sure that there is a meeting of the minds on all of the essential terms. A mediated settlement agreement must meet the same requirements of formation and enforceability as any contract. If essential terms are left for additional negotiation or are not clearly stated, the opportunity to attack the enforceability of the agreement is created. While the law favors compromise, it is up to the parties to enter into a definite, certain and unambiguous agreement.

If the parties are careful to enter into an enforceable agreement, the Court of Appeals has also recently emphasized that trial courts are generally required to accept the agreement. In Olmstead Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Washington, 341 Ga.App. 524, 801 S.E.2d 320 (2017) the Court of Appeals was presented with a situation where the trial court’s final order and judgment allegedly differed from the terms of a mediated agreement. The case was remanded because it was not clear whether the trial court impermissibly modified the terms of the mediated agreement instead of enforcing it as written. On remand, the Court of Appeals left it to the trial court to determine whether the parties’ agreement was sufficiently definite, certain and unambiguous as to all material terms to be enforceable as to the parties’ final settlement.

On the arbitration side, the recent ruling in Bibb County School District v. Dallemand, 2017 WL 4126996 (9/18/2017) discussed again how the threshold issue of arbitrability is to be addressed. The Court recognized that the parties may show their clear and unmistakable intent to submit to an arbitrator the threshold issue of arbitrability by including a delegation clause in their arbitration agreement. See Rent-A-Center, West, Inc. v. Jackson, 561 U.S.63, 68-69 (2010). The Court in Dallemand emphasized that the intent must be “clear and unmistakable.” The Georgia appellate Courts have made it clear under the Georgia Arbitration Code the even claims that the underlying contract containing the arbitration clause was subject to rescission can be submitted to an arbitration with a broad arbitration clause. 


Mediator Roy PaulRoy Paul, Esq. is a mediator and arbitrator with Miles in Savannah. He has 30+ years of  combined litigation, mediation and arbitration experience. He specializes in business dissolution and business disputes, as well as estate & probate, construction, and personal injury cases. To book Roy for a mediation or arbitration, please call 912-417-2879 or click here. 

October 17, 2017 No Comments

by Burke Johnson, Esq.

When I was growing up in rural Madison County, going to Atlanta was a big deal. We would plan long in advance, and I even remember that my father would typically take the car in for an oil change and service before we headed out on that adventure.

After I finished law school, I lived and worked in Atlanta for several years. In 2001, I moved back home to Madison County. I continued working in Atlanta, and the commute became somewhat routine but increasingly difficult. As metro Atlanta expanded outward, well into Gwinnett County and even into Oconee, Jackson, Barrow and other counties near Athens, the drive became worse and worse.   A typical trip now routinely takes two hours each way during the morning and evening commute.

I have learned to “grin and bear” the commute. For most residents of northeast Georgia, however, the prospect of driving into Atlanta is often quite daunting. I’m proud Miles can now offer our clients an alternative: mediation services in Athens and all surrounding areas for clients who prefer to remain in the northeastern part of Georgia. We have a wonderful facility to accommodate multi-party cases and will soon open an additional space in Athens.

For more information or to schedule a mediation in the Athens area, please call our office at 678-320-9118.


Mediator Burke JohnsonBurke Johnson, Esq. is a mediator with Miles Mediation in Atlanta.  He has over 30 years of experience handling cases of all complexities and sizes, including  automobile; motorcycle and trucking wrecks; premises liability actions (including cases involving claims of negligent security); product liability claims; construction defect claims; commercial general liability claims; professional liability claims; insurance coverage matters; life, health and disability insurance claims; ERISA benefit claims; business and commercial disputes; elder care and adult guardianships; probate and estate litigation; and family law matters.  

To learn more about Burke or to schedule a mediation, please call 678-320-9118 or visit his online calendar.