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Violate Mediation Confidentiality? Case Dismissed!

Business Conflict Blog by Peter Phillips

J. Michael Hand didn’t like the Walnut Valley Sailing Club’s storage shed. A member of the club, though not disabled himself, Mr. Hand thought the structure didn’t comply with the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. So he sued.

The Walnut Valley Sailing Club didn’t like being sued, and it terminated Mr. Hand’s membership in the club.

Mr. Hand didn’t like getting terminated, so he sued again, this time for unlawful relatiation under the ADA.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas ordered the parties to mediation, which proved unsuccessful. And after the mediation Mr. Hand sent an e-mail to at least 44 club members (and others) disparaging the club’s positions and relating all the details of the mediation, including what the mediator said and the amount of the club’s settlement offer.

The District Court didn’t like that. Indeed, it didn’t like it so much that it dismissed Mr. Hand’s suit with prejudice, by way of sanction. Mr. Hand did what any good American would do — he appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Read more »

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F. Peter Phillips

F. Peter Phillips is a commercial arbitrator and mediator with substantial experience providing consultation on the management of business disputes to companies around the globe. A cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College and a magna cum laude graduate of New York Law School, Mr. Phillips served for nearly ten years… MORE >

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