December 2014
 

COURT ADR NEWS

Billion-Dollar Settlement Following “Bellwether” Mediation over Hip Implants

The manufacturers of the Stryker Hip implant have settled for up to $1.7 billion with thousands of patients who received metal-on-metal hip implants with fundamental design flaws. The implants, whose debris could cause metal poisoning or extreme pain, required many elderly patients to receive corrective surgery at high medical risk. In the New Jersey Superior Court of Bergen County, at Judge Brian Martinotti's recommendation, 21 of the first 25 parties who filed suit participated in a “bellwether mediation process.” [Search for this term to read article without paywall.] Bellwether mediations are held early in the litigation process with the goal of demonstrating whether mediation succeeds at ending lawsuits or whether it would be better to continue the litigation. The judge appointed former U.S. Magistrate Judge Diane Welsh to mediate the first cases. This allowed company representatives to hear stories directly from patients. The mediation lasted four months, moving quickly in recognition that time was of the essence for the injured parties. Patients whose failed implants required surgery before the settlement were awarded at least $300,000 per hip, with those with the worst complications receiving up to $1.7 million. Patients whose implants fail after this agreement are likely to file additional lawsuits.

Missouri Supreme Court Rejects St. Louis County Foreclosure Mediation Law

The Missouri Supreme Court overturned a 2012 St. Louis County ordinance that required lenders to allow homeowners in foreclosure an opportunity to mediate their cases. The law said it was intended to address “the national residential property foreclosure crisis” and its negative effects on the county. The Missouri Bankers Assoc. and a bank sued the county to establish that the ordinance was invalid. The Circuit Court upheld the ordinance, saying it was a valid use of the county’s power. While the case was on appeal, the state legislature passed a law stating that no local ordinance could change or delay a loan agreement, or require payment to a contractor such as a mediator. While the county agreed to stop enforcing the ordinance because of the state law, it argued that it should remain valid. The county claimed that under the Missouri constitution the county's charter authority and police power to promote the health, welfare and safety of its residents take precedence over the statute.  The Missouri Supreme Court rejected this argument, saying the foreclosure mediation ordinance was invalid because the county lacked authority under the state constitution to address the foreclosure crisis because is it not a purely local concern.
 

THIS MONTH AT RSI

RSI Expands Foreclosure Mediation Program

Kim Ackmann, RSI's 17th Judicial Circuit Program Coordinator
RSI has expanded our foreclosure mediation services to Boone County, IL, so that we now cover the entire 17th Judicial Circuit. The Nov. 1 expansion was made possible thanks to the early success of our program in its more populous neighbor, Winnebago County. Our team has been busily preparing for this addition, with guidance from CourtADR.org’s article “Elements of a Successful Mediation Program.”

In order to expand our mediation services to Boone County, in my role as the Program Coordinator I cultivated relationships with court administrators and the local judge, educating them about the program and resolving any logistical and technical concerns. Once the program's local rules were approved for the expansion, we updated the program's forms and outreach materials. We also planned and implemented a media outreach event to spread the word to the community. It’s exciting for RSI to be making a bigger impact on Illinois foreclosure mediation than we had planned.
 

NEW RESEARCH

Community Court Successfully Reduces Re-Offense

by Jennifer Shack, Director of Research
Does San Francisco’s Community Justice Center Reduce Criminal Recidivism? Beau Kilmer and Jesse Sussell, RAND Corporation, 2014.

A well-structured study of a community court in San Francisco has confirmed the findings of earlier studies – that community courts reduce recidivism. Community courts focus on the reasons the offender committed the offense rather than on punishment. To emphasize ties to the community, they include restorative justice and community service components that take place within the particular neighborhood they serve. They differ from traditional court as well by including a period of extended supervision as the offender completes his or her treatment plan. The treatment plan can require the offender to complete community service, attend a support group, use mental health or drug treatment programs, or obtain vocational or educational training.
 
The study examined arrest records for police districts that include the Tenderloin, the neighborhood served by the community court. Only one of the districts was entirely inside the Tenderloin. The others spread beyond the neighborhood’s borders. This allowed the researchers to compare re-offense in similar areas. The researchers also compared arrests that occurred prior to the launch of the community court to those that occurred after the court was established. The dataset included 13,570 arrests for offenses that would be eligible for community court from March 2009 to September 2012. This was a small subset of all arrests for eligible offenses in the area during that time.

The researchers found that the median time between citation and the first hearing was seven days in the community court and 47 days in the traditional court. They also found that although the probability of re-arrest increased over time in the area of the police districts that lay outside of the Tenderloin, the probability of an offender being re-arrested within one year decreased inside the Tenderloin at the same time. The probability of re-arrest was 8.9 to 10.3 percent lower in the Tenderloin after the community court was launched than before its inception.
 
The study didn’t look at which specific factors in the community court caused the reduction in recidivism. The researchers offer the possibility that it was the reduced time between citation and first hearing, access to services, or perhaps something entirely different.

This tip comes from Mary Novak, Resource Center Director and editor of this newsletter

If you only know our blog, Just Court ADR, in the links on this page, you may be surprised at the depth of content. One way to explore our richest topics is through the categories and tags listed on the right side of the screen. Whether your interest is foreclosure mediation, court programs around the country, or analysis of court opinions, we’ve said a lot over the years. You can keep up with every post by subscribing to the blog.

RSI Board Of Directors

Hon. Morton Denlow (ret.), President
Terry Moritz, Vice President
Prof. James J. Alfini
Hon. Allen S. Goldberg (ret.)
Mitchell Marinello
Raven Moore
Hon. Stephen Pacey (ret.)
Hon. Judith Rice
Brian Roche
Hon. Karen G. Shields (ret.)
Hon. James Sullivan (ret.)

RSI Staff

Susan M. Yates, Executive Director 
Kimberly Ackmann
Bridget Crawford

Shawn Davis
Olga Kordonskaya
Kevin Malone
Mary Novak, Editor
Jennifer Shack

SUPPORT RSI


RSI is a non-profit organization that strengthens justice by enhancing court ADR systems through expertise in program development, research and resources, training and program administration.

NEWS & UPDATES


Welcome to Our Newest Staff Member

We are excited to welcome Bridget Crawford as RSI’s new Administrator. Bridget is an avid volunteer supporting women's reproductive justice, a passion that led her to an interest in justice reform such as ADR. She received her B.A. from the University of Chicago.

FROM OUR BLOG


Hosting an Uplifting Media Event for Foreclosure Mediation

Kim Ackmann explains the work and planning that went into a successful media event for our Foreclosure Mediation Program in the 17th Circuit.

HOW CAN WE HELP?


How Can We Help You?  RSI offers a clearinghouse of information on CourtADR.org and also responds to requests for information. Do you have a question about court ADR?
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RSI thanks JAMS and the JAMS Foundation for their support of this publication.

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