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UWWM Partner and Mediator Kimberly Sands

Trial May Be a Rarity, but Trial Lawyers Are Not

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As noted by the Court, the facts of the case are pretty straightforward. The insured homeowners suffered a loss when a refrigerator water line broke and caused some flooding inside their house. They sought coverage from their insurer under their property insurance policy. The insurer retained a remediation company to drain the water and dry out the property. A dispute arose between the parties concerning an “Option to Repair” provision in the policy, the scope of remedial work that would be required to repair the damage from the leak, and the selection and hiring of a contractor to effectuate those repairs. Unable to reach an agreement with their insurer, the homeowners retained a law firm to represent them under a contingency fee arrangement. A subsequent jury trial yielded a verdict in favor of the homeowners.

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UWWM Partner and Mediator Kimberly Sands

Proposals for Settlement: Their Role, Sanctions, and Whether Time to Decide Can Be Enlarged by Court

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Every now and then some of your failures come back to humble you. Little did I know that after 15 years mediating cases, my 25 years as a civil litigator would result in a conflict case that may go to the Supreme Court of Florida. That may happen in Ochoa v Koppel, 41 Fla. Law Weekly D1196 (Fla. 2nd DCA May 20, 2016), wherein the 4th District Court concluded that the trial court erred in finding the plaintiff timely accepted a proposal for settlement where it was not accepted in the 30-day period; the Court ruled that a Rule 1.090 motion to enlarge time did not toll the acceptance period set forth in Rule 1.442. The Court certified its opinion in conflict with a 5th District Court decision in a case I handled from trial through multiple appeals. In that case, the court ruled that a Rule 1.090 motion to enlarge would toll the 30 day time period to accept or reject and my client’s offer under Rule 1.442.

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Florida mediator Ricardo Cata

Ricardo Cata Moderates, Chairs Program Discussing Mediation Method for Resolving U.S.-Cuba Disputes

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On Wednesday, April 13, 2016, I chaired and moderated a program at the ABA’s International Section’s Spring Meeting in New York City, presented by the Mediation Committee of the International Section, titled: “The Role of Mediation in Resolving the U.S. Claims Against Cuba.”

The speakers were: attorney Nancy Thevenin, Principal of Thevenin Arbitration & ADR of New York; James Meyer, Partner at Harper Meyer Perez et al of Miami; and Antonio Martinez, of counsel to the Schwartz Malito firm of New York. The program was heavily attended, and there was significant audience participation by way of questions and comments. We had to stop the questions about 7 minutes after the concluding time for the program.

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Mediator/Arbitrator Richard Lord, shareholder with Upchurch Watson White & Max

Harvard Professor Addresses ABA Dispute Resolution Section's Conference

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Friday, at our ABA DR Section Spring Conference in New York City, attendees heard from Francesca Gino of the Harvard Business School. Professor Gino spoke on the science of making better decisions, and her talk highlighted the importance of being aware of how we make decisions and to deal with factors that can derail sound decision making. Brain science is important as we are hard-wired in certain ways, and I direct you to my colleague Michelle Jernigan’s related webinar on brain science to learn more. Also this morning, Texas A&M University School of Law was awarded the ABA Representation in Mediation Competition Championship trophy. Again, as a judge, I saw firsthand how law schools are preparing students to serve as effective advocates in mediation. All teams that made the finals in New York had worked hard to advance out of their regional competitions.

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Mediator/Arbitrator Richard Lord, shareholder with Upchurch Watson White & Max

ABA Dispute Resolution Section Welcomes U.N. Official and Kicks off Spring Conference With Learning

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This morning, attendees of the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution’s 18th Annual Spring Conference in NYC heard from Johnston Barkat, assistant secretary-general of the United Nations. Sharing insights from around the world, he spoke of the importance of many of the keys to dispute resolution. Emotional and cognitive intelligence, safe psychological spaces, diversity of thought, and procedural fairness are not only vital to us all as mediators, but also to the transformation of systems. And later, the first of dozens of concurrent learning systems kicked off our three-day day conference.

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UWWM Partner and Mediator Kimberly Sands

Dismissal Without Reserving Enforcement Rights May Limit Parties’ Recourse Under Rule 1.730

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In a case that just keeps coming back, like a nightmare or a bad penny — depending on your perspective — the Fourth District Court recently weighed in on two “settlement” related subjects that happen every day throughout Florida and elsewhere, without a thought for the potential consequences. First, it reminds us what can happen when counsel signs a settlement agreement or release without clearly indicating his or her capacity or intent. Although not the subject of the opinion, Dandar v Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization, No. 2D14-1511, Mar 2, 2016, results from a case in which plaintiff’s counsel became a party to a settlement agreement.

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