Welcome to The Mediation Society

Who We Are

The Mediation Society is a non-profit organization based in Northern California that is composed of trained and experienced mediators who meet regularly to share information, develop mediation skills and techniques, and enjoy an atmosphere of fellowship among peers. To this end, the Society sponsors dinners, round tables and workshops in San Francisco featuring leading local, national and international speakers and subjects in the field of mediation. Membership in the Society and participation in its activities are intended to further the advancement of the practice of mediation, both locally and nationally, and to foster an appreciation for mediation as a valuable form of alternative dispute resolution.

Mediator's Corner

Mediator's Corner Archives

Shirish Gupta

Mediating Superstorm Sandy by Shirish Gupta

Last summer, I was recruited to mediate Superstorm Sandy insurance coverage disputes between New Yorkers and their carriers.  At the peak, I was mediating 4 disputes a day in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan.  The stories I heard from homeowners were, to say the least, heartbreaking.  More than just the physical destruction, the families were emotionally scarred more than half a year after the storm. 

Even though the individual facts varied a bit, the common fact scenario was that floodwaters had directly or indirectly damaged their property and/or prevented the homeowner/business-owner from using their property for a period of time.  The claims before me had been denied due to the floodwater exclusion and the anti-concurrent causation clause in the policy.  In a nutshell, the former says that if the harm is caused by water that is not falling from the sky, it is excluded.  The latter says that if there are multiple causes for the harm and one of them is floodwater, then none of the damage is covered.  Thankfully, that’s not the law in California.

With that background, mediating these disputes was a daunting task and I tried to not make them into exercises in futility.  Thankfully, the insurance representative would usually start the mediation by declaring that her objective was to find coverage, not deny it.  I took those as my marching orders and kept the parties in joint session thus forcing them to collaboratively work out a solution.

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* About the Author:
Shirish Gupta is a California-based mediator operating out of Flashpoint Mediation’s Bay Area, Orange County and Sacramento mediation centers. He is the Chair of the California State Bar Solo & Small Firm Section.  Email Shirish: sgupta@flashpointmediation.com. For photos and graphics showing the destruction caused by Sandy, visit http://www.flashpointmediation.com