The case of CEATS, Inc. v. Continental Airlines is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. The plaintiff owns patents covering technology that lets consumers choose seats on airplanes and in concert venues.
The appeal concerns claims that the court-appointed mediator in the patent dispute between the parties failed to disclose “a close, enduring, and personal relationship” he had with a partner at the Fish & Richardson law firm, which represented one side in the mediation. That failure should have resulted in the reversal of a later judgment in the case, the petitioner claims.
The failure to disclose the relationship led a Texas appeals court to set aside Faulkner’s arbitration award in that earlier case, which included $6 million in attorney fees for Fish & Richardson.
With an increasing number of federal cases going to mediation, counsel for CEATS believes the Supreme Court “needs to set some guidelines” to protect the integrity of the mediation process from conflicts of interest.
This begs the question: do you know if your mediator is two-timing you?