ADR Building Bridges in Mass Tort Claims- Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 57, No. 2
The author is the vice president and National Liability Practice Leader for Sedgwick Claims Management Services, where he oversees the company’s liability business practice. He has more than 15 years of multi-lines claims adjusting and management experience in commercial and personal lines business operations.
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
Corby Pelto observes that most people are conditioned to compromise and resolve their disputes with each other. As social creatures, he says, human beings depend on one another in order to survive. The use of ADR processes in mass tort claims are an extension of that basic human inclination to build bridges. The following article is adapted from a speech Pelto delivered at the 40th Annual RIMS Conference in New Orleans earlier this year.
From childhood through adulthood, human beings have learned to resolve disputes through compromise. We have been conditioned to compromise with others in an effort to seek win-win outcomes for our problems. In essence, we were taught that success in life was dependent upon our ability to resolve our disputes through the art of bridge-building.
The lessons that we learned about dispute resolution as children have some parallels to our perceptions and approaches to dispute resolution in resolving mass tort claims in the liability claims arena. Given the exposure and public media attention that mass tort claims often present to defendants, an effective ADR process is critical in not only managing the exposure but in ensuring that the resolution is as expeditious as possible.
Effective ADR Programs
Although litigation is sometimes necessary in order to assess negligence and causation in a claim, there is a fair percentage of claims litigated because of factors such as inadequate case preparation, unrealistic expectations, or uncertainty with respect to the case value.
An effective ADR program can help in flushing out the facts in the case. It can also assist both parties in understanding the case complexity and value ranges so that they will feel more comfortable in either lowering a demand or increasing an offer of settlement. Listed below are five basic objectives that should be part of an effective mass tort ADR strategy.