Paul R. Fisher heads his own Los Angeles firm focusing on mediation and arbitration of construction, real estate, business, and employment disputes. He serves on the CPR Construction, Employment and California panels, among other national panels.
A recently completed high-rise office building leaks when it rains at the roof, walls, windows and decks. The estimated cost of repair exceeds several million dollars. Let’s say you are the developer seeking to recover those costs.
You have learned that if this claim can be resolved out of court, you could avoid the time and cost of deposing witnesses, preparing for trial, and trial. If you went to trial, depositions, including the accompanying army of experts, would take 115 days. Preparation for trial and the trial itself would take another 120 days. It would cost close to $2 million in attorneys fees, expert witness fees and other expenses to recover the several million dollars in repair costs. This dispute clearly has the potential of becoming a living nightmare.
Parties to lawsuits often do not understand the litigation process or what is involved in going through trial until too much money and emotion have been spent. Only after parties have experienced the financial and emotional drain of depositions, written discovery, and costly motions in court on every conceivable subject and ground, do the parties realize that the trial has not even begun and there is a long road ahead.
This article examines the basic points about the key alternative to litigation, mediation. It covers what attorneys and their clients must understand about the process, including what happens in it and how to get to the goal of reaching a successful conclusion.