Stites & Harbison has a wealth of ADR experience conducting ADR sessions as either mediators or arbitrators, and in advocating on behalf of clients in the ADR setting. The firm's attorneys mediate and arbitrate all types of disputes. Ten of our firm's attorneys completed training or certification in mediation, and eight completed training or certification in arbitration. The New York City-based CPR International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution has named three Stites & Harbison attorneys to its Panel of Neutrals. In addition, many others have received training in ADR by the American Arbitration Association, the Atlanta Justice Center, or the Mediation Center of Kentucky and regularly serve as arbitrators and mediators.
As advocates, we understand that the majority of litigation results in a negotiated settlement. We are experienced and well-equipped to achieve the best settlement results possible for our clients. We have settled hundreds of millions of dollars in claims by alternative dispute resolution. In one recent case, Stites & Harbison helped achieve a mediated settlement of $12 million in favor of the firm's client.
In our experience, mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution often succeed in terminating litigation on terms acceptable to both parties. Mediation or ADR forces a plaintiff to realistically assess a case and come face-to-face with its weaknesses. Otherwise, this might not happen until the eve of trial.
In cases involving complex engineering or scientific principles, we have sometimes used a “non-lawyer neutral” in direct interface with experts retained by the adverse parties. Sometimes we do this without lawyers present; sometimes we have lawyers present, but only for the purpose of observing to ensure the fairness of the process. We have noted how much time can be saved and how many technical issues can be resolved in this manner. Mediations or arbitrations are substantially shortened, and the issues narrowed more quickly.
Examples of complex cases we successfully resolved by ADR include:
- A construction mold case involving $25 million in damage to a hotel in Charleston, S.C. Large amounts of water infiltrated the building within a year of its completion. Essentially, the entire building from the concrete structure out had to be torn down and rebuilt. Engineering issues concerned whether this was a result of construction errors in the masonry system, or design errors by the HVAC engineer inducing negative pressures and exacerbated by the humidity of the South Carolina summer. Ground-breaking scientific approaches to proof were developed in this case.
- A $40 million case involving the chemistry of flu gases generated in a coal-burning power plant, and the metallurgy of a very rarely-used grade of stainless steel that was specified for construction of a scrubber tower. We represented an international engineering and construction company that was the world's leading builder of power plants. On the other side was the last U.S. manufacturer of boilers used in power plants. Each of these companies needed the other in order to maintain its market going forward. The ADR, which followed months of aggressive litigation, was structured totally around future business arrangements between the parties.
LOUISVILLE, Ky.—The American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) recently honored Stites & Harbison, PLLC attorney David B. Ratterman with the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award at the North American Steel Construction Conference (NASCC) held in St. Louis from April 3-5, 2019.
In recent years, as courts have become more congested and business dealings have grown more complex, mediation and arbitration have grown in both prevalence and popularity as alternatives for civil litigation, both locally and across the country.
In October 2018, the Kentucky Supreme Court issued a far-reaching opinion voiding all Kentucky employer-employee arbitration agreements which were made a condition of an individual’s employment. On March 13, 2019, however, the Kentucky Legislature rejected that opinion, passing a bill that not only claws back the ruling but significantly expands employers’ options for imposing conditions on the employer-employee relationship.
On February 4, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in Hagen Constr. Inc. v. Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., No. JKB-18-1201, 2019 BL 36862 (D. Md. Feb. 4, 2019), held that written “expressions of frustration” and “general complaints” made by a subcontractor regarding alleged project mismanagement were insufficient to sustain a labor inefficiency claim for additional project costs against the general contractor.
ATLANTA—Stites & Harbison, PLLC attorneys Dan Douglass and Walker Entwistle were recently honored in the 2019 Georgia Super Lawyers magazine.
Many construction contracts designate arbitration as the means to adjudicate disputes which are not resolved through executive negotiation, mediation or some alternate method. Occasionally, a question arises whether the claim falls within the scope of the arbitration clause.
LOUISVILLE, Ky.—The 2019 edition of Kentucky Super Lawyers recently honored 42 Stites & Harbison, PLLC attorneys in the Covington, Frankfort, Lexington and Louisville, Ky., offices. The publication named 33 attorneys to the Super Lawyers list and nine attorneys to the Rising Stars list.