One of the advantages of mediation is that it can bring parties more than what “winning” at trial can bring.  Most civil trials involve money.  The courts do not give reasoning why they awarded a certain amount of money, or no money at all.  Many people find trials a hollow process, even in a win.

Recently, the University of Cincinnati settled a wrongful death suit.  One of the University’s police officers shot and killed an unarmed black man, Samuel DuBose, in July 2015.  A prosecutor called the killing a “senseless, asinine shooting,”  After two days of mediation by Washington, DC lawyer Billy Martin, the parties settled the lawsuit.  To settle the civil suit — the shooting officer was fired and faces a murder charge — the school agreed to the following:

  • Pay the family of the victim $4.85 million dollars in compensation.
  • Provide an undergraduate education to Mr. DuBose’s 12 children.
  • Create an on-campus memorial to Mr. DuBose.
  • Apologize to the DuBose family.

In an interview, [University President] Dr. [Santa J.] Ono said the university felt a “civic responsibility” to go beyond the kind of cash settlement customary in police-involved deaths.

“I wanted to take care of the family and the next generation of the family,” Dr. Ono said. “And I wanted it to be absolutely clear that the University of Cincinnati cares not only about this family, but also about peace within the city of Cincinnati.”

One of Mr. DuBose’s daughters, Raegan Brooks, 18, who served as the family’s representative in the talks, said she was “very comfortable” with the settlement.

While a settlement can never bring back Mr. DuBose, the family received more than they likely would have at trial.  An apology would not have been a trial outcome nor would the memorial.  A college education for 12 children would have significantly eaten away at the cash received.  Adding another student to the University has low marginal cost for the school, yet has high value to the family.  A skilled mediator can help identify the interests and needs of the parties and help them craft a settlement that satisfies those needs for all.  Everyone here seems happy with the work of the mediator, Mr. Martin, and the outcome of the mediation.

If you are interested in mediation for your lawsuit, please contact me to discuss further.

HT to my colleague Jonathan Hyman.