Arbitration has become ubiquitous in the construction industry, and for good reason. The industry recognized long ago that the incredible complexity and overlapping of disciplines necessary to construct improvements of any size, not to mention the significant amount of monetary risk undertaken by the participants, demanded “a better way” to resolve the disputes that were certain to arise. The concept of arbitration was to have the merits of a dispute heard and decided by someone with subject-matter expertise – a true “jury of your peers.” While some would say the modern day process has morphed into more of a legalistic battle, a good arbitrator can help navigate disputants through the process and provide a fair and efficient forum for grievances to be aired and decided.
Rick has been a proud member of the arbitration panel of the American Arbitration Association and the International Center for Dispute Resolution for more than two decades. He trains new arbitrators for the AAA and maintains a consistently healthy docket of arbitration cases as the arbitrator. His cases range from residential defect cases to $100 Million dollar claims on industrial plants. He works on both domestic and international cases.
Mediation has risen from its infancy 30 years ago to the point where presently, nearly every dispute of any kind will be mediated, prior to the use of other forms of binding resolution (arbitration or trial). Each dispute has its own personality and its own set of interests that must be solved to allow resolution to be reached. Mediators should be selected based on their style, their subject-matter expertise, and their demonstrated ability to achieve resolution.
Rick has successfully mediated several thousand disputes of all kinds. His mantra is “flexibility”, electing to use the style best suited for the particular dispute and parties at hand. There are times when a softer, more cerebral approach is called for. More often in construction related disputes, a more direct and aggressive manner is necessary and desired. The experience to know when and how to use these styles is what differentiates the consistently good mediator from the rest. The bottom line of mediation is to help put the parties in the best position to solve their interests, and to allow them to make that all important decision to elect resolution.
More popular in European construction but gaining some momentum in the U.S. is the concept of the Project Neutral – a pre-designated and agreed upon individual (or panel) that is involved in the project from start to finish,and is there to either help resolve disputes as they arise by consensus or to issue binding decisions quickly, allowing the project to progress toward completion. Statistics have shown that if disputes are resolved during construction rather than being allowed to linger, the project and the participants ultimately benefit.
Rick has been preselected as the sole project neutral on many commercial projects and has been part of several project neutral panels for large TxDOT projects.