Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a vehicle for encouraging earlier, less costly resolutions of disputes than are otherwise attainable by trial. Mediation will be the primary ADR intervention utilized under the "Plan for Alternative Dispute Resolution in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York" (the ADR Plan). Mediation is a process in which an impartial neutral (the Mediator) facilitates communication among the litigants to help them reach a mutually agreeable resolution to their dispute. A hallmark of mediation is its capacity to go beyond traditional settlement discussions and explore creative outcomes responsive to the participants' needs and interests. As set forth in the ADR Plan, other forms of ADR intervention will be made available upon the agreement of all parties.
In December 2005, the District Judges for the Western District of New York authorized the implementation of a pilot ADR program to operate from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2006. The pilot ADR program was extended annually for years 2007, 2008, and 2009, and has now been extended indefinitely. All new civil cases filed in, or transferred to, the Court are referred automatically to mediation, unless expressly exempt by the ADR Plan. For all other civil cases, the ADR Plan provides that the presiding Judge may sue sponte refer the case to ADR, or that the parties may stipulate to the use of ADR.
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Amanda G. Williams, Esq.
2 Niagara Square
Buffalo, NY 14202