Hon. Larry G. Axelrood, (Ret.), Hon. William E. Gomolinski, (Ret.), Hon. Kay M. Hanlon, (Ret.), Hon. Brian R. McKillip, (Ret.) and Hon. Ronald D. Sutter, (Ret.), senior mediators and arbitrators at ADR Systems, mediated 15 cases in eight hours through ADR Systems’ Personal Injury Settlement Program on April 22 – all through videoconferencing software.
Settlement Days are logistically complex mediations: Numerous parties, counsel and insurance representatives filter in and out of various conference rooms in our downtown Chicago office throughout the day. Our neutrals work to resolve disputes between parties under precise time constraints. And to complicate this scenario further, insurance adjusters often work with different neutrals on several cases that may be mediated simultaneously.
“Obviously, the COVID-19 public health crisis threw a huge wrench into this model: How do we conduct Settlement Programs involving fifteen cases for our clients, with the same precision, professionalism, and commitment to confidentiality, when we cannot gather face to face?” said Joshua Sorkin, senior case manager. “It comes as no surprise that our neutrals and staff rose to the challenge once again.”
ADR Systems coordinated a secure, private all-day Zoom videoconference, which was outfitted with numerous security measures to protect our clients’ privacy and confidentiality. From there, as with normal in-person and virtual mediations at ADR Systems, they were sorted into case-specific breakout rooms. The neutrals were virtually transported between breakout rooms for the parties, and then from case to case, throughout the day.
“When I retired from the bench, I would not have guessed that I’d be mediating disputes in front of a laptop camera, but I believe the experience and results are much the same as they would have been in person, before the onslaught of this public health crisis,” said Judge Sutter. “Any attorney reticent to mediate a case remotely should know that at ADR Systems, the experience and neutrality that my colleagues and I possess translate seamlessly from a conference room to a videoconference.”
The effort was successful: Almost all of the cases settled. For the few that did not settle, the neutrals will follow-up with the parties to continue to work to get the matters resolved.
“We are extremely satisfied and somewhat amazed that we were able to pull this day off in the midst of a pandemic,” said an insurance field claims representative that worked on many of the cases that day. “The process of speaking with the judges and moving in and out of the Zoom breakout rooms was seamless. Hopefully, in-person mediations are an option soon, but this format worked great. “
Hon. Larry G. Axelrood, (Ret.) has extensive experience with medical malpractice, nursing home, railroad, legal malpractice, premises liability, construction and personal injury matters. Having served on the Evanston Police Pension Board and the Illinois Judges Association Pension and Benefits Committee, Judge Axelrood also has in-depth experience with pensions and their impact on various types of cases. He is known for his ability to easily connect with and understand the interests of all parties.
Hon, William E. Gomolinski, (Ret.) conducted more than 1,000 settlement conferences while on the bench. He has a large breadth of experience and a keen understanding of a wide variety of personal injury and commercial issues. Judge Gomolinski is praised as a bright and hardworking neutral who will stay the course to bring parties to resolution.
Hon. Kay M. Hanlon, (Ret.) has expertise in resolving personal injury actions such as medical malpractice, mass torts and product liability. Counsel who appeared before Judge Hanlon find her to be perpetually prepared, ready to listen attentively.
Hon. Brian R. McKillip, (Ret.) brings an extensive judicial career in family law matters to ADR Systems. He presided over custody, dissolution of marriage, parental rights, visitation matters and more for 11 years in the DuPage County Court’s Domestic Relations Division. His thorough knowledge of family law matters and ability to facilitate constructive dialogue between parties serves him well as a senior mediator and arbitrator.
Hon. Ronald D. Sutter, (Ret.) has served the legal community as an attorney, prosecutor and jurist for more than 38 years. As a litigator, he focused his practice in personal injury and insurance matters. Judge Sutter spent 15 years in the DuPage County Circuit Court and was the Presiding Judge of the Law Division. A popular mediator and arbitrator, he is praised for his integrity, legal ability and temperament.
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