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Workers' Compensation Judges' Mediation Procedures

Brian Puhala

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

    I will hear mediations anywhere in the Commonwealth.
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  3. Are you willing to mediate claims that are assigned to you for hearing and decision?

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

    Yes.
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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.

    I have no formal agreement. The parties will submit a Mediation Request Form. I will acknowledge the request by letter. The Mediation Request Form can also be obtained from my office.
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  9. How much time do you typically allow for a mediation session?

    As much time as is needed. I will only schedule one mediation per day to allow the maximum amount of time to the parties as long as serious progress is made.
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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?

      The parties are required to submit a Mediation Conference Disclosure Report. A copy of the report can also be obtained from my office.
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    • What documents, if any, must accompany the memorandum?

      The parties should submit all Bureau Documents as well as unpaid medical bills and costs. I will also accept medical reports and records if relevant to the issues to be mediated. If there have been any settlement negotiations, a history of those discussions is also helpful.
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    • How far in advance of the mediation must the parties submit the memorandum and accompanying documents?

      The disclosure report is due at least seven (7) days prior to the mediation date.
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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?

    Counsel for each party must be present in person. Claimant and a person with full settlement authority for all other parties involved may be present in person, but must, at least, be available by phone for the length of the conference.
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  16. Once you receive a mediation request, what is the usual amount of time elapsed until the mediation takes place?

    My office will schedule the mediation no later than thirty (30) days after receipt of the request.
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  18. Describe generally how you conduct a mediation session.

    • Describe each step of the process.

      I will meet first with counsel for all parties involved without the parties in attendance. After this brief meeting with counsel, I will meet with all persons involved in the conference. Those who will be available by phone must attend this portion of the conference by phone, and can later remain available, if needed. I will then meet with each party separately in an alternate fashion. The session will conclude with all parties together.
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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.

      I use a mixed approach.
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  19. Are you willing to conduct more than one session per claim?

    Yes, as long as progress is made.
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  21. Is there anything else the parties should know or do in advance of the mediation?

    They should meet and discuss resolution of the issues.
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