Our client, Parents Against Drunk Driving, or PADD, is looking to resolve a dispute with Mr. Bart Napier. This dispute revolves around the contract used between the two parties, which was PADD was to pay $50,000 to Mr. Napier for being a key-note speaker at one of their conferences. Besides the financial elements of this contract, there were a few clauses included as well. One of those was a morality clause that stated Mr. Napier was to refrain from any activity that could damage PADD’s financials or reputation, specifically that of public drunkenness. After Mr. Napier gave his speech, he proceeded to the lounge to reunite with friends, which included consuming alcoholic beverages. Ultimately, he was later arrested for driving while intoxicated. After the news of this happening reached those at the conference, 250 people decided to leave, along with asking for refunds for the money they had already paid. As a result, PADD lost a significant amount of revenue, therefore they refuse to pay the compensation to Mr. Napier. In this paper, we will examine the avenues PADD has to resolve this issue, while also acknowledging any weaknesses their case may have.
The first of these that will be discussed is the usage of mediation for this case. In the method of mediation everything is voluntary and non-binding (Frey, 2003). When applying the facts of this case to the usage of this process, it has both pros and cons. A positive for this would be that it is the cheapest and it allows for the exchange of ideas between the parties. But the cons of this are that neither party must show up and if they do show up, there is no guarantee that the issue will be resolved. Either way, both result in lost money and time. From the perspective PADD, I would suggest to at least give mediation a chance, mainly because of the cost associated.
Another avenue that could be explored is the dispute resolution of arbitration. Using this method is like mediation, as there is a third party used in both. The main difference is how this individual is utilized. In arbitration, an arbitrator is used more as a legal reference and has the legal obligation of deciding the case. Also, the decisions rendered in this method are often legally binding leaving no recourse for anyone involved. If our client is looking to have a binding decision set in this case, then arbitration would be the path, as it is less expensive than litigation. But it is also important to emphasis that this could be a double-edged sword because the judgement could be against them and they have no right to appeal that decision. With the facts of the case and the wording of the contract, this method would be recommended.
As we continue discussing the forms in which PADD may seek resolution, a mini trial would be an option as well. In this process, both parties present a summarized form of their disputes to a panel who has the authority to settle the dispute (Mini Trials, n.d.). This method has some of the same characteristics as mediation and arbitration, as it is private and confidential. Also, it is non-binding and completely voluntary. So, essentially, this is like mediation with the usage of a panel instead of one individual. This would not be recommended to our client because the same goal can be achieved in mediation but less the cost.
All of these before mentioned pathways are forms of alternate dispute resolutions and are meant to keep cases out of the actual court room. But if no solution can be agreed upon, then the case would go to court, or litigation. This is the most undesirable outcome of the case because of the severe cost and time associated with it (Litigation Costs, n.d.) In this form, cases can take years to be resolved and those decisions can be appealed, resulting in more lost time and money. Even though this would be the last resort of solving this issue, our client would be able to prevail in this arena. Again, this is because of the clause of the contract.
Whether mediation or arbitration is used in this case, each require some compromise from the parties. Our client, PADD, would be willing to compromise a few items of importance but would not be willing to do so for some others. For example, we would be ok with offering a sum of 25,000 dollars, but for that to occur, we would need a public apology for his actions and for him to recognize he caused damage to the client’s organization. And if this could be negotiated, the amount of money may even go up. With that, he must be willing to compromise that he made a mistake and own up to his actions.
To achieve the best outcome for our clients, it is important to recognize both the strengths and weaknesses in the case. PADD has few of each in their case, as we will focus on the strengths now. The most important of these is the inclusion of the morality clause in the contract, along with that he was proven to be drunk while driving, which is a criminal charge. Wording of this clause clearly stated that he was not to be drunk in public and because of his actions, the image of PADD was harmed. And this was not just an assumption made, as he was arrested for his choices. While these are strong points, recognizing weaknesses are just as important.
In this case, there a few weaknesses for our clients. These include: Mr. Napier had already carried out his side of the contract by providing the keynote speech at the conference and that the morality clause in this contract has the chance of being too vague or overreaching. The former of these is undebatable, as his speech was viewed as a success. So, with that, our client should expect to have to pay something to Mr. Napier. The second point is going to be left up entirely to the discretion of the third party involved, but since the wording was clear, our client’s morality clause should be upheld.
With the facts of this case showing that Mr. Napier’s actions caused harm to PADD, the outcome should be that the amount in the contract will be lowered to reflect these actions. But our client must be willing to compromise and offer some kind of amount of monies, as it is proven that Mr. Napier did fulfill his end of the contract. My final recommendation for our client would be to seek a mediation first, with arbitration being the next step. In mediation, a sum of at least half the value should be offered, with the promise of an apology from Mr. Napier.
Litigation Costs, (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/litigation-costs.html
Mini Trials, (n.d.) Retrieved from https://arbitration.uslegal.com/mini-trials/