Alternative Dispute Resolution for the 10th JD Suffolk County

ADR

ADR CONTACT INFORMATION

 

 

 

STATEMENT OF POLICY

It is the policy of the Unified Court System to encourage the resolution of civil legal disputes by methods including mediation, arbitration, neutral evaluation, in-court settlement practices, and summary jury trials. All civil actions or proceedings heard in the Supreme Court, Court of Claims, County Court, Family Court, Surrogate’s Court, District Court, City Court, and New York City Civil Court shall be presumptively eligible for early referral to an alternative dispute resolution process unless otherwise excluded. Courts may refer parties to an ADR process at any time after an action has been commenced and are encouraged to do so at the earliest appropriate opportunity.

In Suffolk County, presumptive Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) is provided in Supreme Court (general civil, commercial, guardianship and matrimonial), Family Court, Surrogate’s Court and District Courts. Once an action is filed and a request for judicial intervention is filed, the action is referred to the court and is diverted to ADR early in the process in an effort to encourage a fair and expeditious settlement to better serve the interest of the parties involved in the litigation. If you have a case in any of the courts below and wish to understand more about the ADR process, please click the appropriate link below.

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Supreme Court Civil and Commercial

Supreme Court Civil Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Part created for early settlement conferences on civil cases commenced in Supreme Court.  Most civil case types are presumed to be suitable for ADR except medical malpractice, labor law and more complicated matters.  Supreme Court Civil ADR is conducted through a series of settlement conferences. The settlement conferences are presided over by judges, Judicial Hearing Officers (JHO) and court attorneys.  Complex cases and any case not included in the presumptive ADR program is sent directly to a court part to be placed on a separate calendar for a settlement conference with the court.

 

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Overview of the ADR Process

Cases are diverted to ADR at the preliminary conference stage. A court attorney is present at the time of a preliminary conference to discuss the case with counsel and make sure the case does not present any issues that might disqualify it from the presumptive mediation program.  Litigants, through their attorneys, are then instructed to exchange basic information and documentation about the facts of the case.  The term used for this exchange of basic information is called “limited discovery.” Following limited discovery, the parties are directed to meet with a judicial mediator to discuss settlement.  The early settlement conferences are generally organized by insurance carrier on personal injury actions to streamline the settlement process and take place 120 days following the preliminary conference. In commercial cases, relevant documents are exchanged, and an early settlement conference is held within 30 days. Commercial cases not assigned to the Commercial Division that are referred to the ADR Part for an early settlement conference have the option to participate in mediation in accordance with Commercial Division Mediation Program.

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Contact

For more information on the Suffolk County Presumptive ADR Programs, please contact:
Name: Matthew M. Deedy, Esq.
Title: Coordinator of the Matrimonial Mediation Center
Email: scdivorcemediation@nycourts.com

 

FAQ

Is this applicable to my case?

Every personal injury and commercial case is screened for ADR.

 

When will I get referred to a Presumptive ADR session?

Parties are referred to ADR in the beginning stages of the case. Once the complaint is filed and a request a preliminary conference is made to the court, the case is screened for presumptive ADR at the time of the preliminary conference.

 

How will I know?

All parties in personal injury and commercial cases are represented by counsel. Your attorney should inform you of the process and the steps required. In addition, once an action is diverted to the ADR program, your attorney is given a date for the exchange of limited discovery and a date to appear for the settlement conference. The judge signs an order specifying the dates for discovery and conference. A copy of the order is uploaded into the e-file system and publicly available for review.

 

I am an unrepresented litigant in a personal injury or commercial case, may I have a lawyer assigned by the court?

If you are a litigant in an action, you are encouraged to hire an attorney to represent your interest. However, the court is not empowered to assign representation in these categories of civil cases.

 

So as long as everyone agrees, is there a way that other people, who are not parties in the case or the lawyers to invite others to join in an ADR session?

Once all litigants agree that another party may help to settle a matter and should join to the settlement conference, the litigants should make a request to the JHO or judge presiding over the mediation.

 

Which cases are eligible?

Non-complex personal injury cases and commercial cases.

 

How are litigants informed that their case is being assessed for or assigned to ADR?

All personal injury and commercial cases are screened with counsel at the first appearance or shortly there after. Clients are informed of their participation in the program by their counsel.

 

Can a litigant request ADR and how?

Yes, ADR is available for most civil cases. If a case is not automatically placed in ADR, an attorney can make a written or oral request to be considered for ADR at any time in their proceedings. It is important to remember; every case is offered an opportunity for early settlement either as part of the ADR program or once the action has arrived before the judge.

 

Can non-presumptive cases be assigned to the ADR program?

No, but even non-presumptive cases are referred for settlement conferences at an early stage in the litigation process.

 

Who mediates the settlement conferences?

Judges and JHOs meet with the parties to work toward case settlement.

 

How is it provided?

Court attorneys meet with each party’s attorney to determine if an exception exist that disqualifies the case from the presumptive ADR program. Then the conference is scheduled with the judge or JHO presiding over the case. Conferences and screens are traditionally held in person. Due to the social distancing requirements of the current health pandemic, video conference and telephone options are available for conferences and screenings.

 

Who can attend?

Counsel for both sides must attend. Plaintiffs in personal injury actions are expected to attend. Defendant’s insurance claims representatives, where applicable, must either attend in person or appear by phone or video.

 

Can people without representation always ask to stop the ADR session so they have time to talk to a lawyer or have a lawyer assigned?

Participants in personal injury and commercial cases are generally represented by counsel. If a party needs to take a break or request an adjournment to confer with counsel, or counsel needs to request a break to confer with a client, an adjournment or break would be granted.

 

What notice will litigants receive?

The parties are directed to mediation at the initial preliminary conference. During the initial preliminary conference, the attorneys select the settlement conference day. The following business day, the parties receive an order through the New York State Courts Electronic Filing (NYSCEF) system directing limited discovery and directing the parties appearance on the agreed upon settlement conference date.

 

Whom would a litigant or attorney contact to confirm when and where to appear or with questions?

The court attorney present at the case screening or
Name: Michael G. Kruzynski, Esq.
Title: Court Attorney-Referee
Address: 1 Court Street, Riverhead, NY 11901
Phone: (631) 852-2390
Email: mkruzyns@nycourts.gov

 

How Is Language Access used for those who do not feel comfortable working in English?

Interpreter services are available to all litigants needing language access assistance.

 

Cost to litigants?

Supreme Court ADR is free to litigants.

 

Community Resources/CDRC?

N/A

 

Can litigants pick the mediators and Who are the mediators?

Litigants cannot pick the judge, JHO or court attorney assigned to their case. Cases are assigned and conferenced based on the date that the parties are available. The assigned judge, JHO or court attorney available to handle the cases assigned for that day becomes the mediator assigned to work toward settlement. The assigned mediator may continue to work with the parties until the case is settled or it is determined that a resolution cannot be reached. This process may take up to several conferences. Every member of the mediation team has many years experience with personal injury and commercial cases and is well qualified to work with litigants through their counsel.

For commercial cases only, please see the link to the Roster of Commercial Neutrals that are also available to mediate commercial cases. 2020 ROSTER_OF_NEUTRALS- commercial.pdf

 

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Suffolk County Supreme Court Dedicated Matrimonial Parts

Matrimonial ADR called the Matrimonial Mediation Program offers matrimonial litigants a cost-free alternative to traditional litigation by providing access to mediation facilitated by trained court mediators. It is a confidential alternative dispute resolution program that offers litigants a faster, more convenient, less expensive, less stressful, and less acrimonious way to resolve their divorce than what occurs in a traditional contested matrimonial action.

Contested matrimonial cases are screened for referral to the Program at or shortly after the initial court appearance. The ultimate decision of whether and when to refer a case to mediation rests with the assigned justice. Because the Program is presumptive, contested cases are referred unless there is a significant basis for not doing so. For example, where there are allegations of domestic violence, child abuse, or a severe power imbalance, it would be inappropriate to mediate the matter and the case would, in most instances, remain with the assigned judge until its conclusion.

 

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Contact
For more information on the New York State Presumptive ADR Program, please contact:
Name: Matthew M. Deedy
Title: Coordinator of the Matrimonial Mediation Center
Address: 400 Carleton Avenue, Central Islip, New York 11722
Phone: (631)740-3777
E-mail: scdivorcemediation@nycourts.com

 

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FAQ

What kinds of cases are handled in the Matrimonial Program?

As a presumptive mediation program, most contested matrimonial actions are eligible for referral to the Matrimonial Mediation Program, with the exception of those cases involving child abuse or neglect (as defined in Family Court Act § 1012(e) and (f) and Social Services Law § 412), domestic violence, or a severe power imbalance between the parties.

 

How is a litigant informed that his or her case is being assessed for or assigned to the Program?

Typically, the assigned Matrimonial Justice informs the parties whether he or she is referring the case to our mediation program at the preliminary conference. However, the judge may decide to withhold the case from the program at the initial appearance but may send a case later in the action if it appears mediation is appropriate later.

 

Can a litigant request ADR and how?

Yes, a litigant may request that his or her matrimonial action be referred to the mediation program, however, the program is presumptive. In most cases, a litigant should not need to make the request.

 

Is ADR applicable to my case?

If you have a contested matrimonial action filed in Suffolk County and assigned to a Matrimonial Part, as this is a presumptive mediation program, it is likely that your case is appropriate for mediation services.

 

How will I know?

You will be informed of the new date and where to appear by the court. Your case will be scheduled for a mediation date during the call of the case directly by the justice presiding over your case.

 

Is there a way for any non-presumptive case type to be diverted to the Matrimonial Mediation Program?

No, the Suffolk County Matrimonial Mediation Program is a presumptive ADR program. All contested matrimonial actions are eligible for mediation services except those cases involving child abuse or neglect (as defined in Family Court Act § 1012(e) and (f) and Social Services Law § 412), domestic violence, or a severe power imbalance between the parties.

 

When will I get referred to the Matrimonial Mediation Program?

Parties may be referred at any time but one of the goals of the Presumptive ADR Program is to refer cases earlier rather than later in order to limit financial and emotional costs and reduce backlog. This means that your case could be referred to the Matrimonial Mediation Program at the preliminary conference or before extensive discovery takes place.

 

Who are the mediators working in the program?

Our mediation roster is comprised of Court Attorney Referees, Court Attorneys, retired Judges, and retired Court Attorney Referees.

 

What notice will litigants receive?

The assigned Matrimonial Justice will issue an Order of Reference to the Matrimonial Mediation Program.

 

How are the participants informed?

The parties and their attorneys receive an Order of Reference from their assigned judge, which provides among other things the date and time for their initial session. The parties and their attorneys choose the initial session date and time with the Court before the Order of Reference is issued.

 

Is mediation provided in-person, by conference call or video conference?

The program was initially set up to offer in person mediation sessions. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are now offering virtual mediation sessions using the Skype for Business platform.

 

Who can attend?

Both the parties and their attorneys may attend the mediation sessions. While the Matrimonial Mediation Program welcomes attorney participation, it is entirely left to the parties’ discretion whether to have their attorney participate in any of the scheduled sessions. Each party is free to make their own decision to have their attorney attend or not.

 

What happens during Mediation?

The Mediator makes an opening statement. Following the statement, the parties control the individual session length, the topics discussed and the duration of the mediation. At any point, a party may request a short break to confer with his or her attorney or request an adjournment of the session to confer with his or her attorney outside the mediation center.

The Mediator does not have any decision-making authority over the parties, which also includes whether the parties’ attorneys participate in the program.

 

Can individuals other than the parties or their attorneys join the mediation session?

Yes, provided all agree. Program Mediators are flexible if others are asked by the parties to participate in the sessions and that participation does not hamper the mediation.

 

Community Resources/CDRC?

N/A

 

Right to Counsel/Right to Assigned Counsel?

Upon the request of a party, the assigned Matrimonial Justice will consider the appointment of Assigned Counsel or an Attorney for the Children.

 

What notice will litigants receive?

The assigned Matrimonial Justice will issue an Order of Reference to the Matrimonial Mediation Program.

 

Whom would a litigant or attorney contact to confirm when and where to appear or with questions?

Contact: Melissa Gaudio, the Matrimonial Mediation Center Administrative Assistant at (631)740-3777or scdivorcemediation@nycourts.gov.

 

How Is Language Access used for those who do not feel comfortable working in English?

Language is not a barrier to participation in the program. Currently, language interpreters are available to the Suffolk County Matrimonial Mediation Program.

 

Cost to litigants?

There is no cost to the parties for participating in the Suffolk County Matrimonial Mediation Program.

 

Who are the Mediators providing the service?

Our mediation roster is comprised of Court Attorney Referees, Court Attorneys, retired Judges, and retired Court Attorney Referees.

  • Matthew M. Deedy, Esq., Court Attorney Referee and Program Coordinator.
  • Jennifer Buetow, Esq., Retired Court Attorney Referee.
  • Carol MacKenzie, Retire Supreme Court Justice.
  • Janine Barbera-Dalli, Esq., Associate Court Attorney.
  • Susan Pierini, Esq., Court Attorney Referee.
  • Adrienne Williams, Esq., Court Attorney Referee.

 

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Suffolk County Surrogate Court ADR Program

To facilitate resolution of disputes and the early settlement of pending litigation in Suffolk County Surrogate’s Court, the court is referring contested matters to the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program. This Program is a non-judicial process designed to assist parties in resolving their disputes economically and more quickly than the traditional courts system. Contested proceedings or cases heard in this Court shall be presumptively eligible for early referral to the Program. The court shall refer eligible cases to an early settlement conference, followed by mediation.

Under the current COVID-19 centralized courts plan virtual mediation is available with one of our three in-house mediators, who are Surrogate’s Court’s court attorneys.

 

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Contact
For more information on the Suffolk County Surrogate’s Court ADR Program, please contact:
Name: Amy Campbell
Title: ADR Coordinator
Address: 320 Centre Drive, Riverhead, New York 11901
Phone: (631) 852-1729
E-mail: acampbell@nycourts.gov

 

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FAQ

What kinds of proceedings are referred to the ADR Program?

Contested proceedings in Surrogate’s Court are screened for referral to the Program. After issue has joined (or the proceeding is contested), an early settlement conference is held with a court attorney. If the matter is not resolved at the early settlement conference, the matter will then proceed to mediation. Cases involving the Public Administrator are exempt from referral to mediation.

 

What is an Early Settlement Conference?

An Early Settlement Conference is a conference to discuss settlement with a member of the Surrogate’s Court’s Law Department (court attorney). This conference lasts up to one hour. The counsel for the parties, or if a party is representing themselves, pro se, then the pro se party must attend. In the event the parties are represented by counsel, the parties shall be available to participate in this conference remotely. (Participation by parties is currently suspended due to COVID-19)

 

When does my case get referred to mediation?

If the case is not resolved at the early settlement conference, the parties will be referred to mediation as soon as practicable at the discretion of the court. Unless deemed by the court to be ineligible, the parties shall proceed to one of three mediation options:

1. Mediation with an in-house mediator (court attorney)

2. Mediation by a mediator assigned from the Roster (currently suspended due to COVID-19)

3. Mediation by a mutually agreed upon mediator

The in-house mediator shall not be the same member of the Surrogate’s Court Law Department with whom an early settlement conference was held.

 

How a litigant is informed that their case is being assigned to mediation?

The court will inform the litigant that their case is being assigned to mediation by a written order called the Order of Reference.

 

What notice will litigants receive?

The court will issue an Order of Reference to the attorneys and unrepresented litigants. The Order of Reference will specify the date of the scheduled mediation and a control date to return to court to report on the status of the case.

 

Are there exceptions to participation in mediation?

In accordance with court policy, no party will be required to mediate if participation could jeopardize a person’s health or safety; a party may be a victim of physical, emotional or other abuse by another party; there is a substantial imbalance of power between parties; or for other reason for good cause shown. Cases involving the Public Administrator are exempt.

 

Can a litigant request mediation and how?

Yes, a litigant may request mediation. The request can be made in writing or orally. Written requests can be emailed to SufWhelan@nycourts.gov. Given that the Program is presumptive, the litigant does not need to make the request in most cases.

 

Who are the mediators working in the program?

Currently, our group of mediators is comprised of three in-house court attorneys in Surrogate’s Court. The program will be expanded to include a roster of private attorneys who meet the qualification and training as required by Part 146 of the Rules of the Chief Administrative Judge. The expansion is currently on hold due to the Covid-19 health crisis.

 

Is mediation provided in-person, by conference call or video conference?

Parties are required to attend in person absent a showing of hardship. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the participants can only participate remotely by Skype for Business Platform.

 

Who can attend?

Parties in the litigation are required to attend. Attorneys are encouraged to participate in mediation with their clients. In addition, any other persons may attend upon agreement of the parties. Person under a disability pursuant to Surrogate Court Procedure Act (“SCPA”) 103(40) and who is represented by a guardian ad litem appointed by Surrogate’s Court is not required to attend.

 

How Is Language Access used for those who do not feel comfortable communicating in English?

Access to interpreter is available to parties who mediate with an in-house mediator upon request to the ADR Coordinator.

 

Cost to litigants?

The litigants can participate in a mediation session with an in-house mediator at no cost. The litigants can also participate in a mediation session with a mediator from the roster. The mediators from the roster are compensated at the rate of $300 an hour after the first three hours free.

 

How long is each mediation session?

Each mediation session is one and a half hours. For good cause shown, and in the mediator’s discretion, the mediation can continue for an additional one-and-a-half-hour session.

 

Will there be sanctions for failure to attend mediation?

The court may impose sanctions on the offending party or attorney for failure to attend a mediation session.

 

Whom would a litigant or attorney contact to confirm when and where to appear or with questions?

ADR Coordinator indicated above.

 

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Surrogates Court ADR Flow Chart

ADR Flow Chart

 

 

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Suffolk County Family Court ADR Program

It is presumed that all newly filed original Custody and Visitation petitions are suitable for referrals to the Suffolk County Family Court Alternate Dispute Resolution Part. Upon the filing of an original custody/visitation petition, the docketing clerk shall screen both parties and child(ren) for court history and conduct a Domestic Violence Registry search. Cases not eligible shall include: pending child protective matter of child neglect or abuse history; petitions that contain child abuse or neglect allegations; cases where a non-parent is a party; cases where a party is incarcerated or resides out of state or requires appearing electronically; cases where parentage has not established for an alleged parent; and open or pending Order of Protection or history of domestic violence.

Upon a case being deemed eligible, the Clerk’s Office shall provide the petitioner with a FAQ handout regarding the program and inquire if they wish to participate. The Docketing Clerk shall confirm petitioner’s phone number and respondent’s phone number, if known. The case shall be scheduled to the Mediation Part no later than 14 days from filing and shall be assigned a time certain start and end time.

 

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Contact
For more information on the New York State Presumptive ADR Program, please contact:

Name: Mike Williams
Title: Chief Clerk
Address: John P. Cohalan, Jr. Courthouse
400 Carlton Ave.,
Central Islip, NY 11722
Phone: (631)740-3800
Email: Suffolkfamilycourt@nycourts.gov

 

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FAQ

Which cases are eligible?

New original Custody and Visitation petitions are presumed eligible for ADR.

 

Is this applicable to my case?

Yes, if you have filed a new petition (petitioner) or another party has filed a new petition against you (respondent) requesting custody or visitation of children.

 

How is a litigant informed that his or her case is being assessed for or assigned to ADR?

The petitioner will be provided a copy of petition and summons to serve and a Mediation FAQ explaining the process to respondent. In addition, the clerk’s office will mail a copy of the petition, summons and letter to respondent explaining that the case is being referred for dispute resolution.

 

Can I participate if I have an attorney?

Petitioners represented by or petitions submitted by attorneys shall not be precluded from participation.

 

Can non-presumptive cases be assigned to the ADR program?

No, all cases are presumptively assigned to ADR. Only complex cases and matters involving abuse and neglect are excluded.

 

Who presides over the conferences, arbitrations and mediations?

The Engagement and Resolution Part will be staffed by a mediation trained, experienced law clerk, social worker or court attorney.

 

How is the mediation conducted?

The mediation space is physically located in the fourth-floor conference room of Suffolk County Family Court. However, due to Covid-19 safety concerns, all mediations are taking place virtually. You will be contacted by mediation staff to set up the mediation by phone or computer.

Once in the mediation, the mediator shall explain the process to the parties and provide forms necessary for Confidentiality Waiver & Agreement and/or Memos of Understanding and/or Parenting Agreements. ADR sessions will not be recorded. ADR sessions will be scheduled for 1-hour intervals on Tuesdays & Thursdays. ADR engages 6-7 sets of parties per day in session.

 

Can people without representation always ask to stop the ADR session so they have time to talk to a lawyer or have a lawyer assigned?

Yes, if the case is not resolved during the session, the mediator may adjourn for an additional session if it is determined that the parties are close to a settlement.

 

When will I get referred to a Presumptive ADR session?

Presumptive ADR is referred immediately when eligible petition is filed. However, Judges may refer cases to ADR, if eligible, at any time in a proceeding.

 

Whom would a litigant or attorney contact to confirm when and where to appear or with questions?

Name: General Clerk’s Office
Address: 400 Carleton Avenue Central Islip, NY 11722
Phone: (631) 740-3770
Email: Suffolkfamilycourt@nycourts.gov

 

How Is Language Access used for those who do not feel comfortable working in English?

Language shall not be a barrier to participation in the program. At a minimum, forms or handouts shall be available in Spanish, staff interpreters shall be made available for all mediation sessions as needed and per diem or video access to interpreting services for other languages shall be made available.

 

Cost to litigants?

The service is free.

 

Can litigants pick the mediators?

No, mediators and appointments are selected based upon availability.

 

Who is providing the mediation service?

Qualified staff and trained mediators provided by EAC - Long Island Dispute Resolution Center.

 

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Suffolk County District Court

Suffolk County District Court utilizes a number of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Programs to encourage and facilitate the speedy, economically efficient and just resolution of civil cases. These ADR programs include No-Fault Arbitrations, Other Civil Arbitrations and Small Claims cases. The programs, operating in five separate district courts throughout the county, utilize a varied staff of facilitators consisting of judicial hearing officers, court attorney-referees, attorney arbitrators and non-attorney mediators.

  • No-Fault Arbitrations -- All no- fault civil cases seeking $6,000.00 or less are transferred to the arbitration calendar pursuant to Part 28 of the Uniform Rules of the Chief Judge. These actions are presided over by experienced judicial hearing officers or Court Attorney Referees. Calendars are held Tuesday and Friday.
  • All Other Civil Arbitrations are presided over by court attorney-referees. These cases generally involve breach of contract but may include other contested actions seeking $6,000.00 or under. The arbitration calendars are held every Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Small claims arbitration cases are arbitrations on cases valued at $5,000.00 or under. They are initially called by the arbitrator and handled by non-attorney mediators trained by the Suffolk County Bar Association and provided as part of our Community Dispute Resolution Centers Program (“CDRCP’). If the parties are unable to come to an agreement, they are referred back to the arbitrator. Cases are calendared one day per week in each of the five outlying courts and once a month on Wednesday evenings.
  • Additionally, every landlord Tenant case is conferenced by the court on the first appearance where both parties appear in the hope of and early settlement.

 

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Contact
For more information on the New York State Presumptive ADR Program, please contact:

Name: Mary Mahoney
Title: Principal Court Clerk
Address: 1st/5th District Court Ronkonkoma
3105 Veterans Memorial Highway
Ronkonkoma, NY 11779
Phone:  (631)381-6017
Email:  mmahone1@nycourts.gov

 

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FAQ

Which cases are eligible?

  • Arbitration is mandated on all no-fault and any other civil district court matter where the monetary damages are $6,000 or less for each cause of action. No-fault cases are mandated to arbitration Part 28 and heard by a Court Appointed Referee. The process for arbitration and mediation varies depending on the type of case before the court. In the 1st district court, arbitration is conducted by the Judicial Hearing Officer (“JHO”) upon paper submissions by the parties in No Fault matters.
  • Small Claims and commercial claims of $5,000 or less are sent to a mediator on consent before the hearing by the arbitrator. If a case is not settled by mediation, it is returned to the arbitrator. It is either heard and decided at that time or adjourned to a date certain.
  • Landlord tenant matters are directed to settlement conference at the initial appearance at which both parties are present.

 

How a litigant is informed that their case is being assessed for or assigned to ADR?

The parties are directed to mediation or arbitration upon arrival at the courthouse or at the first appearance before the judge.

 

All cases are automatically assigned to mediation, arbitration or both. Can a litigant request ADR and how?

All litigants in landlord tenant, small claims, commercial claims and other civil cases with monetary damages of $6,000 or less are placed on an alternate dispute resolution track.

 

If your case does not qualify for diversion to ADR, the litigants can request a settlement conference. Is this applicable to my case?

Yes, if your case falls into any of the categories below:

  • Small claims/Commercial claims seeking damages of $5,000 or less
  • Any other civil matters seeking monetary damages of $6,000 or less

 

Who presides over the conferences, arbitrations and mediations?

  • No-Fault and Other Civil Matters-
    • All other civil matters where no single cause of action exceeds damages of $6,000 are automatically designated for Arbitration are generally heard by JHO.
    • Matters in which no single cause of action exceeds $6,000 and is for monetary only damages will be heard by a Court Appointed Referee.
    • Matters filed in the 5th District court are handled on submissions and decided by the JHO or Court Attorney Referee. No appearance is required.
  • Small Claims- These matters are heard by mediators (roster members) initially with the hope of settlement, if not settled, they are then referred back to the Arbitrators (private attorneys) for determination. They also may be referred to an arbitration part to be heard by a court attorney referee on consent of two attorneys handling the matter.
  • Landlord Tenant. Matter is presided over by the judge handling the case.

 

How will I know?

All litigants are notified of their court dates by the court. Once the litigant arrives for his or her court appearance, in person or virtually, the litigant is directed by the court to arbitration or mediation that is on site at the court facility.

 

Can non-presumptive cases be assigned to the ADR program?

Yes. A litigant may request a settlement conference at any point in the proceedings.

 

Who is delivering the mediation and arbitration service?

  • Any other civil matters seeking monetary damages of $6,000 or less are handled by a combination of arbitrators, JHO or judges depending on the district court where your proceeding is filed. For questions about your specific case, please contact the district court at ADR clerk. Mary Mahoney, Principal Court Clerk, 1st/5th District Court Ronkonkoma, 3105 Veterans Memorial Highway, Ronkonkoma, NY 11779. She can also be reached by phone at (631)381-6017 or email at mmahone1@nycourts.gov.
  • Small claims/Commercial claims seeking damages of $5,000 or less- mediators are provided by EAC Network, a not-for-profit, on a volunteer basis in the court to handle all cases on a specific court date (roster members) initially with the hope of settlement, if not settled, they are then referred to an Arbitrator (private attorneys) assigned by the court.
  • Landlord Tenant- the presiding judge oversees the settlement conferences.

 

Who Can attend?

The litigant or the litigant’s attorney with full settlement authority can attend ADR settlement conferences, arbitrations and mediation.

 

Can people without representation always ask to stop the ADR session so they have time to talk to a lawyer or have a lawyer assigned?

Any party without representation may attend and request and adjournment to confer with an attorney.

 

I am an unrepresented litigant; may I have a lawyer assigned by the court?

The court is not permitted to assign an attorney in your case. If you would like legal assistance please visit the community resources section of the Suffolk County Courts website at http://ww2.nycourts.gov/courts/10jd/suffolk/communityoutreach.shtml for a list of possible resources.

 

So as long as everyone agrees, is there a way that other people, who are not parties in the case or the lawyers to invite others to join in an ADR session?

If both parties agree that a third party would be helpful in resolving the dispute, the parties should make a request to the judge, JHO or other mediator overseeing the conference, mediation or arbitration.

 

When will I get referred to a Presumptive ADR session?

At the first appearance on the case.

 

Whom would a litigant or attorney contact to confirm when and where to appear or with questions?

Name: Name: Mary Mahoney
Title: Principal Court Clerk
Address: 1st/5th District Court Ronkonkoma 3105 Veterans Memorial Highway Ronkonkoma, NY 11779
Phone: (631)381-6017
Email: mmahone1@nycourts.gov

 

How Is Language Access used for those who do not feel comfortable working in English?

Language assistance is provided by the court interpreter upon request or if it appears that a litigant is having a language access issue.

 

Cost to litigants?

Alternate Dispute Resolution is free to litigants

 

Can litigants pick the mediators?

The litigants cannot pick a mediator or arbitrator. Mediators and arbitrators are provided by the court directly or through the EAC Network. A small claims arbitrator will be assigned to your case based on availability.

 

ARBITRATION PANEL FOR SMALL CLAIMS ARBITRATION 2020

David M. Ardam, Esq.                                         
Anthony V. Barbiero, P.C.
Michele Bencivinni                                                
Anthony J. Bianchino 
Kevin Campbell
Philip P. Costigan
Philip J. DeBellis Esq.
Daniel William DeLuca
Jodi Ann Donato
David P. Fallon
Leonard Feldman                                     
Thomas F. Foy
Daniel Gammerman                 
Fred Grafstein
Melissa B. Greenberger
Jerry C. Guarino, P.C.
Daniel H. Guttmann
Tracy J. Harkins
Richard Harms
Elizabeth Harrington
Patricia Howlett
Frank J. Incantalupo
Joel D. Katims

Herbert Kellner, Esq.
Alan H. Krystal, P.C.
Richard Lavorata
David Lazer
Peter P. Legakis
Patricia Manzo
Francine H. Moss
Mark E. Nadjar
Thomas Persichilli       
Joseph Piscitello
Lynn Poster-Zimmerman                                     
Aniella Russo
Steven Schrier, Esq.
David S. Shotten, P.C.
Arthur E. Shulman
Barry M. Smolowitz                                
Kerie P. Stone
Lester P. Taroff                           
Janessa M. Trotto
Glenn P. Warmuth
Philip J. Wasilausky

Joel J. Ziegler  

 

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Appendix A: Definitions

Types of ADR

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): ADR stands for alternative dispute resolution – a variety of processes that help parties resolve their dispute without a trial. ADR may also refer to appropriate dispute resolution, referring to a number of processes that can be used to resolve a conflict, dispute, or claim.

Arbitration: Arbitration is a process where disputing parties agree that one or several individuals --- the arbitrators --- can make a decision about the dispute after receiving evidence and hearing arguments. Arbitration is different from mediation because the arbitrator has the authority to make a decision about the dispute. The process may be similar to a trial in that the parties make opening statements and present evidence to the arbitrator; however, it is usually less formal and is often faster. Arbitration may be binding or non-binding, which depends on either an agreement between the parties or any applicable law in this area, depending on the jurisdiction involved. In binding arbitration, parties agree to accept the arbitrator’s decision as final. In nonbinding arbitration, the parties may request a trial if they don’t accept the arbitrator’s decision.

Mediation: Mediation refers to a confidential dispute resolution process in which a neutral third party --- the mediator -- helps parties identify issues, clarify perceptions, and explore options for a mutually acceptable outcome. The mediator does not decide the case, but helps the parties to resolve the dispute themselves. Mediation seeks to ensure that the parties arrive at a voluntary, uncoerced decision in which each party makes free and informed choices as to process and outcome. Attorneys are strongly encouraged to participate in mediation, and in some contexts, may be required to participate. Mediation may be inappropriate if a party has a significant advantage in power or control over the other.

Presumptive mediation: In a presumptive mediation referral model, parties are referred to mediation at some point in the court process, preferably early, before costs rise and positions harden. Referrals are made to mediation based on predetermined case characteristics, rather than on a case-by-case basis, wherever possible. Mediation referrals include a provision for parties to opt-out, while case intake and screening further support party safety and assessment of case appropriateness for mediation.

Neutral Evaluation: Neutral evaluation is an ADR process where the case is referred to an expert, usually an attorney, who is asked to provide a balanced and unbiased evaluation of the dispute. Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) may take place soon after a case has been filed in court. If this process occurs early, it may be referred to as Early Neutral Evaluation. Regardless, a court may refer the case to ENE or the parties may mutually agree to this process. The parties either submit written comments or meet in person with the expert. The expert identifies each side’s strengths and weaknesses and provides an evaluation of the likely outcome of a trial. This evaluation can assist the parties in assessing their case and may propel them towards a settlement. Often, the expert’s opinion may be of great significance to one or more parties as it may serve to confirm the evaluation of the case by that party’s attorney.

Presumptive ADR: In a presumptive Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) referral model, parties are referred early on to utilize some form of ADR such as arbitration, mediation, neutral evaluation, settlement conferencing or a special masters. Although a referral can occur at any stage in a case. The presumptive referral should preferably be done early in the court process, before costs rise and positions harden. Whenever possible, referrals are based on predetermined case characteristics, rather than on a case-by-case basis. While the Court presumes that certain case categories are appropriate for some form of Alternative Dispute Resolution, plans include some provision for parties to opt-out often for good cause. Also, case intake and screening further support party safety and assessment of case appropriateness for presumptive ADR.

Settlement Conferencing: Settlement conferences are similar to mediation in that a third-party neutral assists the parties in exploring settlement; however, these conferences are usually conducted by a judge or court staff and generally focus on the attorneys and their legal arguments. A settlement conference is an important case management tool and is usually shorter than a mediation session and provides fewer opportunities for direct party participation or for consideration of non-legal interests that may be driving the conflict.

Special Masters: Special master are experienced neutrals who can assist judges with effective case management, play a role in technologically complex disputes, assist with discovery oversight and management, facilitate resolution among parties or co-parties, and conduct mini-trials upon consent of the parties.

Summary Jury trials: A summary jury trial is a one-day trial in which attorneys for each party present a shortened version of the case in a real courtroom before a jury. It is similar to arbitration except that a jury decides factual issues and renders a verdict as a jury would in a traditional trial. The trial may be either non-binding or binding, depending on the agreement of the parties and order of the court. Damages can be floored and capped on a high/low basis by agreement of counsel. The verdict is frequently helpful in getting a settlement, particularly where one of the parties has an unrealistic assessment of the case.

 

 

Additional Definitions to Consider

 

Community Dispute Resolution Center (CDRC): , offers free and low-cost mediation. There is a CDRC for every county in New York State. They can mediate court cases, as well as disputes that are not in court. Many CDRCs offer virtual mediation. If a court refers your case to mediation, consult first with the referring court about your options: in some courts and in some case types, mediation services may be free of charge. More information and a link to your local CDRC can be found here: http://ww2.nycourts.gov/ip/adr/ProgramList.shtml.

Court Attorney: Many courtrooms have attorneys who work for the court. They do not represent any party in the dispute. The attorney may meet with you and the other side to see if an agreement can be made to settle the case.

Deposition: Part of a pre-trial investigation into the facts of a case in the form of interviews to get sworn testimony of witnesses, experts or parties (defendant or plaintiff) to a lawsuit.

IAS Judge or Part: Individual Assignment System (IAS) judge or part. An IAS judge is the assigned to handle the case until it is resolved through settlement, trial or dismissal. An IAS judge can sometimes be assigned for a limited purpose such as settlement conferences.

Judicial Hearing Officer (JHO): retired judge designated to assist the court in resolving cases. JHOs assigned to ADR mediations are appointed to assist you in the resolution of your case.

Limited Discovery: The disclosure of facts and information though documents and depositions necessary to provide enough information for the parties to understand what happened in your case.

No-Fault Arbitrations: Arbitration of cases requesting the payment of no-fault insurance benefits relating to a motor vehicle accident.

Small Claims Court: A special section of a court where you can sue for up to $5000. You can only sue for money. You cannot sue to make someone do something or for pain and suffering. (from Access to Justice Guide for small claims)

 

 

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