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Workers' Compensation Judges' Mediation Procedures

Geoffrey L. Seacrist

Office: Brookville District: Western
  1. Please list the offices at which you will mediate a claim.

    Brookville. (I have never been requested to travel elsewhere to perform a mediation but would certainly consider doing that.)
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  3. Are you willing to mediate claims that are assigned to you for hearing and decision?

    Yes.
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  5. Are you willing to mediate claims in which one or both parties are not represented by counsel?

    Yes. I would also mediate a pre-petition filing, if requested.
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  7. Do you require the parties to execute an agreement to mediate? If so, please describe briefly the matters addressed by the agreement.

    No, nothing in writing need be signed.
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  9. How much time do you typically allow for a mediation session?

    A full day.
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  11. Do you require the parties to submit a pre-mediation memorandum? If so:

    • What information must be contained in the memorandum?

      They are sent a notice letter specifying the information that I will need, that they are waiving recusal requests, and that they understand that this will not be a hearing, no evidence will be entered and no record will be made, etc.
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    • What documents, if any, must accompany the memorandum?

      Anything germane to evaluating the case that has not already been submitted (i.e., medical reports, surveillance films, witness statements, book keeping records and tax returns, etc).
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    • How far in advance of the mediation must the parties submit the memorandum and accompanying documents?

      At least one day before, so that I can be prepared in advance.
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  12. Do you conduct a pre-mediation conference? If so, please describe what takes place at that conference.

    No.
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  14. Do you require all participants (claimant, adjustor/employer representative, counsel) to attend the mediation personally? Under what circumstances do you permit a participant to attend by telephone?

    Yes, but the insurance representative usually asks to participate by phone (which unfortunately reduces the likelihood of finding a resolution) and I will permit that. The employer seldom participates at all, unless self-insured.
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  16. Once you receive a mediation request, what is the usual amount of time elapsed until the mediation takes place?

    This depends upon the parties' availability. I always have Wednesdays open on my schedule and can make myself available on fairly short notice.
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  18. Describe generally how you conduct a mediation session.

    • Describe each step of the process.

      I start by talking with everyone, then caucus with each side, then bring everyone together, then caucus again, then bring everyone together again, as long as we appear to be making some progress.
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    • Indicate whether you use a facilitative (i.e., helping the parties to communicate and generate their own solutions), evaluative (i.e., discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each party's case and/or offering an opinion as to the settlement value), or mixed approach.

      Mixed approach. I would prefer to do a facilitative mediation rather than an evaluative settlement conference.
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  19. Are you willing to conduct more than one session per claim?

    Not usually, unless the litigation is simultaneously proceeding full steam ahead. It is important that the settlement/mediation processes not be allowed to substantially delay completion of the litigation.
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  21. Is there anything else the parties should know or do in advance of the mediation?

    I will not strong-arm the parties into settling their cases. However, if the parties are truly interested in resolving some or all of their differences amicably through meaningful mediation, and/or both parties are truly interested in settling and are willing to make concessions and negotiate realistically, then I will be glad to help.
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