• Mediation Case Law Project

    Examining lessons from "failed mediations"

    The Mediation Case Law Project at Hamline Law is devoted to examining the lessons that can be learned from "failed mediations."

    Whether you are a mediator, a lawyer representing clients in mediation, or a mediation consumer, litigation about mediation is something you ignore at your peril. For a systematic examination of mediation litigation trends, please read Disputing Irony: A Systematic Look at Litigation About Mediation, 11 Harvard Negotiation Law Review 43 (Spring 2006), and Mediation Litigation Trends:  1999-2007, 1 WORLD ARBITRATION & MEDIATION REVIEW 395 (2007), authored by Hamline Professors James Coben and Peter Thompson.

    "Learning about the mediation process by studying the adversarial opinion that the ADR process was designed to avoid may be ironic, but it can be productive. Admittedly, a written trial or appellate court decision is by no means a perfect window into the world of mediation. Only the rare mediated dispute shows up in a reported opinion. Moreover, court opinions, particularly appellate court opinions, do not provide a full picture of the conflicts faced by the parties. Still, given the oft-expressed mediation objective of providing an alternative to the traditional adversarial system, the phenomenon of mediation litigation is a 'disputing irony' that warrants closer examination. Indeed, much can be learned from these 'failed' mediations."

    Mediation Case Law Project Tools

    • More than 40 teaching videos produced by Professor Coben and the Minnesota State Bar Association. Each video, typically less than three minutes in length, focuses on a single reported mediation case and attempts to illustrate what went wrong at the mediation that resulted in litigation.  Videos are organized by litigation theme:  enforcement, confidentiality, sanctions, ethics/malpractice, and miscellaneous.  For each video you click on, you will be directed to a short case summary. There is no charge for use. The videos present a valuable jumping off point (often "tongue in cheek") for critical discussion of significant mediation issues, suitable for academic classes, mediation training, or continuing education courses. 
    • Written summaries of the most significant mediation cases, organized in a variety of user-friendly ways (by type of mediation dispute; alphabetical; by year).
    • A database containing all mediation cases reported on Westlaw where U.S. state or federal judges were forced to decide a disputed issue about mediation (2,219 cases between 1999 and 2005). You can download the database (it's a searchable excel file) and quickly find cases about particular mediation subjects in specific jurisdictions.