Hon. F. Keith Brown, (Ret.), senior mediator and arbitrator at ADR Systems, recently settled a $12 million personal injury dispute after two years of in-person and remote mediation.
The dispute involved catastrophic injuries to a railroad worker who fell thirty feet from train tracks while reattaching his rail skate – a safety device – to the track. The case additionally involved third-party claims against the railroad worker’s employer and a workers’ compensation lien.
“Construction cases like these are complicated by layers of insurance coverage issues and agreements among defendants as to who will pay who,” said Judge Brown. “Having presided over and mediated cases like these before, I quickly assessed that one session may not settle everything.”
Judge Brown’s follow-up efforts kept the negotiation process moving forward. Settlement negotiations began in 2018 and continued intermittently during the following year. They transitioned to remote formats during the final rounds of mediation this year.
“The COVID-19 pandemic was an enabler in this case,” said Judge Brown. “The case originally had a trial date, but that was cancelled. As the parties were trying to get the case moving again, the pandemic began. With court access initially cut-off and later strictly limited by the pandemic, the parties’ interest in resolving the dispute rose even more. Settlement was the best option – financially and strategically – and now was the right time for it.”
ADR Systems converted its mediation and arbitration services to remote formats in March, and Judge Brown’s practice was hardly altered in the transition. Tech-savvy in his own right, he often utilized PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets and other digital visual aids to lay out fact patterns, outline arguments and track settlement offers during in-person sessions. Mediating remotely from his computer merely revised the way he used those aids.
“In a sense, the pandemic made what I had been doing more sensible. I can share my screen with the parties, and we can engage with case documents in equal detail, even though we are not in the same location,” said Judge Brown. “The attorneys on this case were flexible and consummate advocates throughout this long process. I am grateful to have helped them arrive at a settlement for their clients in this matter.”
Hon. F. Keith Brown, (Ret.) has extensive experience in settling personal injury, workers’ compensation and commercial matters. As a mediator, he is known for his keen ability to easily connect with people and promote productive communications between all parties. Judge Brown is a beloved pillar of the community, who has been recognized numerous times for community service.
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