Recently I had the opportunity to mediate a case with Richard M. Strauss, Esq., who acted as a mediator on one of my nursing home cases. I represent nursing homes in the New York metropolitan area and I've been doing so for five years. I have authored one published article in the field and numerous newsletters on the subject over the last five years.
Mr. Strauss was recommended to us by the plaintiff's counsel which, in that case, was a very sophisticated firm. At first I was reluctant to agree to their choice, but since the mediator was available, and we wanted to get the case settled before the end of the year, I agreed that we would go forward. Generally speaking, I am often frustrated with mediators who really do not understand the nursing home law of New York and was delighted to find out that Mr. Strauss had an extensive background in handling nursing home claims for a company that owned hundreds of nursing homes. I also learned he had handled maters involving nursing homes for an insurance company in Texas. Thus, although he was recommended by a plaintiff's firm, Mr. Strauss' background was actually more consistent with our side of the case.
Once we began, I learned immediately that Mr. Strauss had very carefully read all of our positions papers and had taken extensive notes detailing the events. The particular case involved a number of falls at a nursing home and the issue was whether or not the falls ultimately caused the death of the resident.
Mr. Strauss gave opening comments which were especially helpful in making the plaintiff understand that by engaging in mediation the plaintiff herself, who was the daughter of the decedent, could control the destiny of the case. He explained that going to a jury would put the case in the hands of six or twelve strangers. He observed that there will then be appellate review which could substantially reduce any award that was not in line with other awards in the jurisdiction.
We were quite far apart in the mediation but I immediately began to develop a trust with Mr. Strauss. I felt that I could discuss my views of the case openly and the limitations on our authority. Ultimately, we reached an impasse and Mr. Strauss was very effective in using "brackets" to bring the parties together. He then very astutely determined a bottom line number which, based on the information I supplied as a result of my confidence in his mediation skills, and the same information supplied by the plaintiff, apparently, allowed him to recommend a number to settle the case which I was able to recommend and obtain from the carrier.
I don't ordinarily write letters like this but I was very impressed with Mr. Strauss' skills as a mediator and in particular his understanding of nursing home matters. You will not be disappointed if you select him.
Louis G. Adolfsen
New York City