An interesting lawsuit in Chicago serves as an example of the negative side of litigation: cost, time, emotional toll, and lack of control. It seems more likely that all sides would win through mediation.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago condominium owner, Mary Jo Stevens, who has a long history of debilitating panic attacks, has found great relief through the use and constant companionship of a 10-pound therapeutic dog named Boo. She reports that in the 14 months she has owned Boo her panic attacks have decreased from multiple times a week to about once a week.
Unfortunately, Stevens and her husband live in a Chicago building with a “no-dog” policy. Although not an issue when they purchased their home, the effectiveness of the therapeutic dog has changed things. Now the policy has pitted the Stevens against their building management company and some of their neighbors. Although building management has allowed Stevens to keep Boo, it has placed restrictions on how she, while accompanied with her service animal, is able to use the building. Stevens reports feeling like “a second-class resident” while management asserts its need to respond to those who may be allergic or fearful of dogs.
To be sure a lawsuit will settle this conflict: One side will be the winner, while the other will lose the case. In addition, litigation will drag the case out, likely for 18 months or so, before a decision is rendered by the courts. Both sides will incur several thousand dollars in legal fees. Experts will be called by both sides to support or dismiss Boo therapeutic dog status. Stevens’ baseline stress and anxiety may exacerbate, as she fears losing access to the one successful treatment for her panic she has found. It is likely that the case will contaminate neighbor relations as well, not just with the Stevens but amongst the larger group, as residents take sides in the case.
What If They Chose Mediation?
If Stevens and the building choose mediation as a means of resolution versus litigation, the story would be different. Even though a lawsuit has been filed in a local Chicago court, the parties can still choose to mediate. If they did, Stevens and the building would both maintain control in the final decision and resolution, not the Chicago court. Together they would be able to work out a solution that meet the needs of both parties, including the building as a whole. Neither side would have to lose, and the application of the resolution could be a positive experience for everyone involved.
In addition to control over the final outcome, the parties would save significant time, stress, and money as they create a solution that works for everyone involved. A mediated solution would be legally binding and the proceedings and outcome confidential. In addition, specific concerns of building management such as potential liability issues, can also be addressed in mediation – but could not be addressed in litigation.
Mediation allows the parties to use their creatively and knowledge of the parties involved, building, residents, and neighborhood to create a solution that is a win-win for everyone.
- The Problem With Litigation
- Mediating Workplace ADA Compliance
- Who Wins? End Result In Mediation
- Prepare for Mediation
- Finding The Best Mediator
- Mediation Agreement Is Legally Binding