OC Dispute Resolution Services, LLC

Focusing on Divorce & Business Mediation

We are committed to providing mediation and dispute resolution services designed to accomplish one thing - - RESOLUTION!  Our mediator's are experienced, tenacious, compassionate and skilled at resolving cases just like yours.  Whether it takes two hours or sixteen hours, we are there for you.

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What Damages Can I Recover If Someone Defrauds Me?

Damages are an amount of money determined by a Court or jury to reasonably compensate an injured party for the harm they have suffered. The purpose of these “compensatory damages” is to make the injured party whole. A party who has been defrauded is entitled to the recovery of any damages suffered as a result of the fraud, whether or not these damages could have been anticipated. For example, this may include money loaned to the defendant in reliance on a misrepresentation, money spent to improve a business based on the defendant’s concealment of important facts, or reasonable compensation for the time and effort spent in reliance on a misrepresentation or concealment. In short, if you suffered a loss that was caused by your reasonable reliance on defendant’s fraud, you are entitled to an amount of damages to adequately compensate you for this loss.

In cases involving fraud in the purchase, sale or exchange of property, the defrauded party is entitled to recovery of the difference between the actual value of the property given up and the actual value of what the defrauded party received. For example, if a buyer of a business is defrauded into paying $10,000 for a business that is actually worth only $3,000, the buyer is entitled to recover damages of $7,000, the difference between the actual value of what he paid and the actual value of the business. In addition, a party defrauded in the purchase, sale or exchange of property is entitled to recover damages for any amounts reasonably spent in reliance on the fraud, damages for the party’s loss of the use or enjoyment of the property, damages for lost profits or gains that might have reasonably been earned by a defrauded seller from use of the property, and damages for lost profits or gains that were reasonably anticipated by a defrauded buyer from use of the property.

Fraud is also a ground for awarding of "punitive damages". In contrast to compensatory damages intended to make the injured party whole, the purpose of punitive damages are to punish the defendant for its conduct and to discourage similar conduct in the future. An award of punitive damages carries a very high standard, and the decision to award punitive damages is within the sole discretion of the jury. There is no set formula for a jury’s determination of the amount of a punitive damages award.

Prejudgment interest on fraud damages may also be recovered where the damages can be ascertained with certainty. In California, attorney fees incurred in bringing an action for fraud are not recoverable. However, attorney fees may be recoverable in certain fraud actions arising out of a contract (ex. business sale transactions) where the contract provides for recovery of attorney fees in disputes arising from the contract.

When Can A Contract Be Undone (or Rescinded)?

What is Rescission?

When a contract dispute arises, parties often look for ways to rescind the contract. A rescission is not merely a cancellation of a contract. Rather, a rescission will put the parties back to the day the contract was signed and the contract itself will be treated as if it never existed. This determination by a court requires the parties to the contract to return all consideration under the contract that had been received up to the point of the dispute. There are several different grounds for rescission of a contract in California.

Grounds for Rescission

In California, Civil Code§1689 governs when a contract may be subject to rescission:

Parties to a contract can agree to rescind an original contract between them without intervention by the Court. This can occur regardless of the express terms of the agreement. However, parties must complete the rescission by returning all consideration already given under the original contract.

Mistake

A party may rescind the contract on the basis of a “unilateral mistake". This means that one party was mistaken about a material fact under the contract that the other party knew or suspected of and the party used that mistake to their advantage. However, if the mistaken party did not do their reasonable diligence in the contract, a unilateral mistake is insufficient for rescission.

If both parties are mutually mistaken about a material fact, then a contract can also be rescinded by either party.

Fraud or undue influence

When a party is “induced" into a contract by a misrepresentation of the other party and relies on that misrepresentation, the defrauded party can rescind the contract.

Failure of consideration

A party to a contract may also rescind a contract based on a failure of the other party to provide “consideration" for their agreement. A refusal or failure of a party to perform his part of the contract, or a clear intention to violate it, gives the other party the right to rescind. For example, a car buyer that fails to deliver the purchase price of a car to a seller after driving off with the car has failed to provide the “consideration" for their agreement. Thus, buyer may rescind the contract and take back the car.

Unlawful contract and public interest

Finally, a contract may be rescinded if it is against the law or if the public interest will be prejudiced by permitting the contract to stand.

Conclusion

Contract disputes can be complex, and each situation is different. It is important for any consumer or small business owner to have a basic knowledge of their rights and remedies under contract law. For more complex disputes, you should find an experienced contract litigator in your area.

When are Shareholders Entitled to Corporate Distributions?

A corporate distribution to its shareholders (or “dividend") is the transfer of cash or property from a corporation to its shareholders, without consideration, by virtue of the fact that the shareholders own shares in the corporation. Corp. Code § 166.

Distributions are Discretionary

The most important rule underlying corporate distributions to its shareholders is that the distributions are discretionaryZellerbach v. Allenberg, 99 Cal. 57 (1893). This means that the directors of a corporation have exclusive authority to declare distributions.Gibbons v. Mahon, 136 U.S. 549, 558 (1890). Corporate directors have the ultimate say on when and how such distributions are made.

Potential Corporate Liability for Improper Distributions

Corporations, however, cannot simply make whatever distribution they see fit. Instead, a corporation may not even be able to legally make a distribution unless their retained earnings or remaining assets meet certain standards. Corp. Code§ 500. Additionally, if a corporation’s dividend would make it insolvent, the distribution cannot be legally made.Corp. Code§ 501. Corporate directors that make such improper distributions can be held personally liable for their actions.

Pre-Declaration = No Vested Right!

If a corporation is financially sound enough to make a distribution, the directors still do not have to declare a dividend. There may be other reasons to keep certain cash holdings within the corporation. In fact, a shareholder has no vested right to a dividend until it is declared by the corporation’s board of directors. Miller v. McColgan, 17 Cal.2d 432, 436 (1941). In absence of a declaration of dividends by a corporation’s board of directors, shareholders have no direct proprietary interest in corporate earnings, there being no dividend in earnings until one is declared. Gibbons v. Mahon, 136 U.S. 549, 558, 568 (1890). Put simply, there are no requirements for when a corporation must issue a shareholder distribution.

After Dividend is Declared = Vested Right!

Once a corporation passes a resolution declaring a dividend, though, a corporate shareholder has a right to receive their proportionate share of the corporate distribution. At this point, the right to receive a dividend has “vested" with the shareholder , and a failure to distribute the declared dividend can form the basis for a lawsuit.

Conclusion

Whether you are a shareholder of a closely-held corporation or own stock in a Fortune 500 company, it is important to know your basic rights to corporate dividends. Please keep these basic rules in mind if a dispute arises as to a party’s right to corporate dividends.

When is a Contract Considered "Mutually Drafted"?

The average person enters into many different types of contracts in their lifetime. Whether its signing up for a credit card, buying a car, agreeing to an extended protection plan on a television, or signing an employment agreement, chances are you have no input in the language of the contract.

If, however, you have input in revising, re-wording, changing, or amending a term within the agreement, the contract may be deemed “mutually drafted" by a court in the event the contract is breached. This designation can be significant in a contract dispute.

Ambiguities Construed Against Drafter

The Latin term contra proferentem is a contract principle that provides that an ambiguous or uncertain term in a contract will be construed against the party that caused the uncertainty to exist. Civ. Code§ 1654. Ambiguities are contract language that is difficult to comprehend or distinguish. Royal Neckwear Co. v. Century City, Inc., 205 Cal.App.3d 1146, 1153 (1988).

In a practical sense, the person that “caused the uncertainty to exist" is the person that drafted the agreement. Thus, the general rule is that ambiguities in the drafting of contracts are construed against the drafter. Sands v. E.I.C., Inc., 118 Cal.App.3d 231 (1981).

This rule will benefit the average consumer who is handed a “boilerplate" contract and asked to sign it, or they won’t get a credit card. If, however, some revisions are made by both parties, the question of who drafted the contract can become essential to the determination of a contract dispute.

Effect of Contract Deemed “Mutually Drafted"

Where there is a joint drafting of the agreement, or where the terms and conditions of an agreement have been negotiated by both parties, the contract will not be construed against either party. Mitchell v. Exhibition Foods, Inc., 184 Cal.App.3d 1033, 1042 (1986). Upon a determination by a court that the contract is jointly or mutually drafted, deficiencies in the contract cannot be held against either party. Even if a party negotiated a smaller percentage of the contract than the opposing side, a c ourt may find that enough of the contract was revised that the contract will be mutually drafted. In other words, the negotiation need not be equally proportioned for a finding of joint drafting.

Conclusion

In a contract dispute, the party that drafted the agreement may have the language used against them. If there is a finding, however, that both parties had input, that presumption goes away. Thus, it is important to find an experienced contract litigation attorney in your area to guide you through any dispute you may have.

What is Economic Duress in California?

Typically, duress, menace, and undue influence are raised in business, elder abuse, and other matters involving intentional torts. One often overlooked, and frequently misunderstood, form of duress is “economic duress.”

1.  Economic Duress: Is There A Reasonable Alternative?

Typically, duress, menace, and undue influence are raised in business, elder abuse, and other matters involving intentional torts. One often overlooked, and frequently misunderstood, form of duress is "economic duress." This claim can be seen as an affirmative claim in cases of rescission or as an affirmative defense in cases of breach of contract. While the doctrine has developed significantly over the last fifty years, it does not have the notoriety of the traditional doctrine of duress. Litigators on both sides of the bar should be aware of this powerful doctrine. An example would be a claim that, in a negotiation, one party would lose most or all of their assets if they didn't agree to the deal, which, on its face appears quite one sided.

2.  The History of Economic Duress

California courts have recognized the economic duress doctrine in private sector cases for at least fifty years. Young v. Hoagland (1931) 212 Cal. 426, 430-432. The doctrine is based in equity. Burke v. Gould (1894) 105 Cal. 277, 281. It represents "but an expansion by courts of equity of the old common-law doctrine of duress." Sistrom v. Anderson (1942) 51 Cal.App.2d 213, 220. In its infancy it was limited to the early statutory and judicial interpretation requiring the commission of an unlawful act in the nature of a tort or crime. Philippine Export & Foreign Loan Guarantee Corp. v. Chuidian (1990) 218 Cal. App. 3d 1058, 1077, (threat to expose former Philippine President Marcos's investments in U.S. corporations). However, as it has evolved, it is no longer subject to these limitations. Rich & Whillock, Inc. v. Ashton Development, Inc. (1984) 157 Cal. App. 3d 1154, 1158-1159. Rather, economic duress may consist of a wrongful act that is sufficiently coercive to cause a reasonably prudent person faced with no reasonable alternative to succumb to the perpetrator's pressure. Crosstalk Productions Inc. v. Jacobson (1998) 65 Cal. App. 4th 631, 644; Rich & Whillock, Inc. v. Ashton Development, Inc. (1984) 157 Cal. App. 3d 1154, 1158.

3.  Current Legal Standard

The current legal standard under the doctrine of economic duress discards the requirement of the commission of a tort or crime. Under current evaluations wrongful acts that are sufficiently coercive to cause a reasonably prudent person faced with no reasonable alternative to succumb to the perpetrator's pressure will support a claim of economic duress. Crosstalk Productions Inc. v. Jacobson (1998) 65 Cal. App. 4th 631, 644; Rich & Whillock, Inc. v. Ashton Development, Inc. (1984) 157 Cal. App. 3d 1154, 1158. Often, "wrongful acts will support a claim of economic duress when a reasonably prudent person subject to such an act may have no reasonable alternative by to succumb when the only other alternative is bankruptcy." Uniwill v. City of Los Angeles (2004) 124Cal.App.4th 537, 545. See also, Louisville Title Ins. Co. v. Surety Title & Guar. Co. (1976) 60 Cal.App.3d 781, 806; Thompson Crane & Trucking Co. v. Eyman (1954) 123 Cal.App.2d 904, 905-907, 909-910; accord, Totem Marine T. & B v. Alyeska Pipeline, Etc. (Alaska 1978) 584 P.2d 15, 22-23 (economic duress found where only alternative was bankruptcy.) Rich & Whillock, Inc. v. Ashton Development, Inc. (1984) 157 Cal. App. 3d 1154, 1159 (economic duress where company faced imminent bankruptcy.)

The party subjected to the coercive act, and having no reasonable alternative, can then plead economic duress to avoid the contract. Cross Talk Productions, Inc. v. Jacobson (1998) 65 Cal.App.4th 631, 644. The "wrongful acts" envisioned by the doctrine may take the form of a bad faith threat to institute civil process, blackmail, an assertion of a claim known to be false, or a bad faith threat to breach a contract or to withhold payment Crosstalk Productions Inc. v. Jacobson (1998) 65 Cal. App. 4th 631, 644-645. However, it has long been recognized that the taking of legal action or the threat to take such action cannot constitute such duress. Louisville Title Ins. Co. v. Surety Title & Guar. Co. (1976) 60 Cal. App. 3d 781, 801; See also, Leeper v. Beltrami (1959) 53 Cal.2d 195 , 204; Taylor v. Ford (1901) 131 Cal. 440, 447. Likewise, courts have determined that opposing views of contract rights is not duress.

4.  Economic Duress As Compared to Duress, Menace, and Undue Influence

The economic duress doctrine is similar to the general doctrine of duress, menace, and undue influence. However, each involves subtle differences and individual determinations. While they often appear interchangeable, and sometimes involve similar analysis, each requires an individual determination and evaluation. Given the similar analysis, a party's acts may subject him or her to liability under one or all theories.

A. General Doctrine of Duress

The general doctrine of duress envisions some unlawful action by a party by which one's consent is obtained through fear or threats. Keithley v. Civil Service Bd. (1970) 11 Cal. App. 3d 443, 450 (internal citations omitted). As defined in California Civil Code Section 1569: Duress consists in:

1. Unlawful confinement of the person of the party, or the husband or wife of such party, or of an ancestor, descendent, or adopted child of such party, husband, or wife;

2. Unlawful detention of the property of any such person; or,

3. Confinement of such person, lawful in form, but fraudulently obtained, or fraudulently made unjustly harassing or oppressive.

As such, the general doctrine of duress often addresses threats of confinement, in stark contrast to the "financial" threats of economic duress. Thus, determinations of duress under the general doctrine are not confined to financial determinations, but may consist of a range of "harassing" behavior.

B. Menace

Duress is often used interchangeably with menace, but in California menace is technically a threat of duress or a threat of injury to the person, property, or character of another. Civ. Code ? 1570; Odorizzi v. Bloomfield Sch. Dist. (1996) 246 Cal. App. 2d 123, 128. California Civil Code Section 1570 defines "menace" as "a threat: 1. [o]f such duress as is specified in subdivisions one and three of the last section; 2. [o]f unlawful and violent injury to the person or property of any such person as is specified in the last section; or, 3. [o]f injury to the character of any such person." Civ. Code ? 1570. Unlike economic duress, claims of menace typically involve physical threats often not present in cases of economic duress.

C. Undue Influence

California Civil Code section 1575 defines "undue influence," 1. In the use, by one in whom a confidence is reposed by another, or who holds a real or apparent authority over him, of such confidence or authority for the purpose of obtaining an unfair advantage over him; 2. In taking an unfair advantage of another's weakness of mind; or, 3. In taking a grossly oppressive and unfair advantage of another's necessities or distress.  Several courts have observed that undue consists of "persuasion which tends to be coercive in nature, persuasion which overcomes the will without convincing the judgment." Odorizzi v. Bloomfield Sch. Dist. (1966) 246 Cal. App. 2d 123, 130. "The hallmark of such persuasion is high pressure, a pressure which works on mental, moral, or emotional weakness to such an extent that it approaches the boundaries of coercion. In this sense, undue influence has been called overpersuasion." Id.

Indeed, the Odorizzi Court noted [o]verpersuasion is generally accompanied by certain characteristic elements which, when simultaneously present in a significant number, characterize the persuasion as excessive. These elements are '(1) discussion of the transaction at an unusual or inappropriate time, (2) consummation of the transaction in an unusual place, (3) insistent demand that the business be finished at once, (4) extreme emphasis on untoward consequences of delay, (5) the use of multiple persuaders by the dominant side against a single servient party, (6) absence of third-party advisers to the servient party, (7) statements that there is no time to consult financial advisers or attorneys.' Thus, the concept of undue influence may also mirror issues found in cases of economic duress, with economic duress being more narrowly focused on financial pressures.

8.  Application to Litigated Cases

The three most common areas where we see this concept is elder abuse, business disputes and family law or divorce.

A. Elder Abuse

In the early 1980s, the California Legislature first acknowledged that elders and "dependent adults" deserve special protection against abusive behaviors and have since developed a comprehensive statutory scheme protecting California citizens over the age of 65, including prohibitions on financial abuse. Accordingly, California's statutory prohibition on financial elder abuse may often involve instances of economic duress. Financial elder abuse occurs when any person or entity "takes, secrets, appropriates, obtains or retains real or personal property of an elder for a wrongful use or with intent to defraud." California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 15600 et seq. While financial elder abuse can take many forms, the most widespread abuses include telemarketing fraud, identity theft, predatory lending and home improvement and estate planning scams, which often involve oppressive contracts.

Attorneys seeking to rescind a contract in cases involving elderly clients should also consider including allegations of economic duress, which are likely present in cases of financial elder abuse. To date, there have not been any published opinions addressing economic duress in the context of elder abuse claims. Despite this fact, attorneys dealing with financial elder abuse claims should also be aware of the related arguments of economic duress.

B. Business Disputes

Claims of economic duress in business litigation is becoming more frequent. Typically, they occur when where one party is at a significant disadvantage in a deal and is on the brink of financial disaster if the deal isn't done.

Below are a handful of cases demonstrating the Court's analysis of the doctrine. The doctrine of economic duress was also raised in River Bank America v. Diller (1995) 38 Cal. App. 4th 1400. There, the defendant tried to prevent the enforcement of guarantees it had signed on the ground that it signed them only when the plaintiff had changed the structure of a project development transaction at the last minute from a joint venture to a loan and guarantees. According to the defendant, because it had already started development of the project and had incurred expenses and other obligations, it was too late to obtain other financing and it had no choice but to go ahead and sign the loan and guarantees. In rejecting the defendant's economic duress theory, the court ruled that the defendant made a business decision to proceed with the contract (loan plus guarantees) rather than sue to enforce the alleged joint venture agreement.

Although it stems from an Alaskan lawsuit, California courts frequently refer to Totem Marine T. & B v. Alyeska Pipeline, Etc. (Alaska 1978) 584 P.2d 15, 21, when discussing the doctrine of economic distress. Totem, a new corporation, contracted with Alyeska to transport pipeline construction materials from Houston, Texas to a port in southern Alaska, with the possibility of one or two cargo stops along the way. Totem chartered the equipment necessary to perform the contract. Unfortunately, numerous unanticipated problems arose from the outset which impeded Totem's performance. When Totem's chartered tugs and barge arrived in the port of Long Beach, California, Alyeska caused the barge to be unloaded and unilaterally terminated the contract. Totem then submitted termination invoices totaling somewhere between $260,000 and $ 300,000. At the same time, Totem notified Alyeska it was in urgent need of cash to pay creditors and that without immediate payment it would go bankrupt. After some negotiations, Alyeska offered to settle Totem's account for $ 97,500. In order to avoid bankruptcy, Totem accepted Alyeska's compromise offer and signed an agreement releasing Alyeska from all claims under the contract. About four months after signing the release agreement Totem sued Alyeska for the balance due under the contract. The trial court entered summary judgment for Alyeska based on the release agreement. The Supreme Court of Alaska reversed, relying almost exclusively on the doctrine of economic dures.

C. Family Law

The doctrine of economic duress has also been applied in the family law context. The opinion In re Marriage of Baltins (1989) 212Cal. App. 3d 66, is a prime example of the doctrine's application in the family law setting. The husband drafted a marital settlement agreement which gave his wife only 10-15% of the marital community property. The wife signed the agreement only after the husband threatened that he would file for bankruptcy and avoid paying the wife (or their daughter) if she did not sign immediately. Although the wife was represented by counsel, the lawyer was not consulted about the settlement agreement (inasmuch as the husband told her that he would not deal with lawyers) and the wife was clearly distressed, distraught and having difficulty coping.

The court noted that "[p]erhaps the most significant mark [indicia of duress] is Wife's consent to a grossly unfair agreement by which she received only 10 to 15 percent of the community property and inadequate support for herself and the minor child .... The evidence reveals no consideration for such an unequal agreement...." Thus, the court employed the doctrine of economic distress, and the wife was entitled to a modification of the judgment of dissolution of marriage.

9.  Tips For Addressing Claims of Economic Duress

These tips should help you identify whether conduct is wrongful.

Tip #1--The Alleged Economic Duress Must Force the Specific Conduct

To establish economic duress there must be causation, that is, the alleged duress must force the detrimental conduct. See, Rich & Whillock, Inc. (1984) 157 Cal. App. 3d 1154 ("the doctrine now may come into play upon the doing of a wrongful act which is sufficiently coercive to cause a reasonably prudent person faced with no reasonable alternative to succumb to the perpetrator's pressure."); Cross Talk Productions, Inc. v. Jacobson (1998) 65 Cal.App.4th 631 ("the doctrine of??economic duress? can apply when one party has done a wrongful act which is sufficiently coercive to cause a reasonably prudent person, faced with no reasonable alternative, to agree to an unfavorable contract.") Thus, practitioners should be mindful that any purported economic duress must cause the injurious conduct.

Tip #2--Exercising Legal Rights Is Not Economic Duress

Another important element to remember is that "threats" to exercise a party's legal rights is not considered duress. While unfounded threats of litigation may support a claim of economic duress, the taking of legal action or the threat to take such action cannot constitute such duress. Louisville Title Ins. Co. v. Surety Title & Guar. Co. (1976) 60 Cal. App. 3d 781, 801; See also, Leeper v. Beltrami (1959) 53 Cal.2d 195, 204; Taylor v. Ford (1901) 131 Cal. 440, 447. Even disputes in which the parties take differing views of contract rights, which are later are found to be wrong are not considered economic duress. River Bank America v. Diller (1995) 38 Cal.App.4th 1400, 1424-1425 ("[i]t is not duress...to take a different view of contract rights, even though mistaken, from that of the other contracting party, and it is not duress to refuse, in good faith, to proceed with a contract, even though such a refusal might later be found to be wrong...A mere threat to withhold a legal right for the enforcement of which a person has an adequate [legal] remedy is not duress.")

Tip #3--Economic Duress Must Involve A "Wrongful" Act

While the doctrine no longer requires the commission of a tort or crime, it still requires a "wrongful" act. California courts have recognized "wrongful" acts sufficient to find economic duress to include bad faith threats to institute civil process, blackmail, an assertion of a claim known to be false, or a bad faith threat to breach a contract or to withhold payment Crosstalk Productions Inc. v. Jacobson (1998) 65 Cal. App. 4th 631, 644-645. More often than not, it involves a threat that the party knows to be false. Leeper v. Beltrami (1959) 53 Cal.2d 195.

Tip #4--Party Must Have No Reasonable Alternative

Frequently the analysis of economic duress hinges on the determination of whether the party had no reasonable alternative. A number of cases require the party to face bankruptcy or financial ruin. Louisville Title Ins. Co. v. Surety Title & Guar. Co. (1976) 60 Cal. App. 3d 781, 801; See also, Leeper v. Beltrami (1959) 53 Cal.2d 195 , 204. Another California court recognized that allowing one's home to be sold at a foreclosure sale is not a reasonable alternative. Leeper v. Beltrami (1959) 53 Cal.2d 195, 204-205. Courts have rejected claims of economic duress where the plaintiff agreed for good business reasons to pay more than originally required. London Homes, Inc. v. Korn (1965) 234 Cal.App.2d 233, 240 In Sistrom v. Anderson (1942) 51 Cal. App. 2d 213, a turkey farmer had a contract with a buyer in the retail meat business. After acceptance and payment of the first delivery of turkeys, the buyers noticed that the turkeys were in a "green" condition. The buyer then told the seller that unless he accepted his check for the second lot of turkeys and as a cancellation of the contract, he would not pay for the second lot and would stop payment of the first check. The Court while buyers took an advantage of the farmer, it was not an advantage which would constitute economic duress, or any other form of duress.

10.  Conclusion

Litigants and attorneys should be aware of the powerful doctrine of economic duress and its intricacies in litigation.

Mediating a Partnership / Business Dissolution

To effectively mediate a partnership dissolution, preparation is key. Make sure everyone has all the relevant documents. Be prepared to think out of the box!

1.  Partnership Dissolution is a Bit Like Ending a Marriage

Ending a business partnership is a bit like ending a marriage. Assets have been accumulated and need to be divided. Depending upon whether one or more partners will continue in the same line of work, client relationships need to be addressed. There are also liabilities that need to be addressed.

2.  Partnership Mediation Checklist

A. Review your documents and evidence Gather all the relevant evidence and organize it. Review it all carefully. Understand the other side's position and review their evidence.

B. Bring key documents and evidence to refer to & support your arguments Preparation is key. Having everything there to assist you can only help.

C. Work with your attorney to determine your "bottom line" Spend some time preparing with your attorney in advance (not the morning of).

D. Understand the other side's claims (your weaknesses) and prepare to address them head on So that you can make informed decisions, you should be aware of your case strengths and weaknesses.

E. Consider many different settlement options (payments over time, restructuring, etc.) Think out of the box. Money isn't always the only way to resolve a matter in Mediation.

F. Don't draw a line in the sand early in the Mediation You want to remain open minded and keep the process going as long as progress is being made.

We want to handle your next mediation or arbitration!