Part 1: The Pessimist's Verse
(The Days are Way too Short for Optimism)

As the ball dropped
Tr**p resumed bellowing
And 2016 began

(Tr**p – rhymes with “sump” and is truncated to prevent further free social media)

Part 2: Year Five Begins

New Years Eve concluded our fourth year at LDRC, which is pretty much stunning: both in that if feels like we have been established forever; and because the “golden years” seem to be going awfully fast. We hit on all cylinders last year and 2016 is looking like it will be another great year for our practice, if not for politics, racial and economic equity, world peace and our favorite teams. The arbitration and special master end of our practice grew strongly, and our mediation and conciliation efforts continued their growth, too. Thank you all for your support, as always.

Last year brought us two more grandkids, some great down time and travel, lots of teaching, training and writing. This year promises more of the same. We planned more time away this winter because of last year's snowmares, so it is often now balmy in mid-January. Go figure. I guess we are always preparing to fight the last war, as the pundits say.

Those of you who did not already know them, you met our dogs in 2015 (October). Who knew that a dog-themed newsletter would draw more comment than any previous one.

Best Lawyers named Chouteau as their Lawyer of the Year in Family Law Mediation for 2016, our third consecutive year with such an honor (Bill in Family Mediation in 2015, Chouteau for Arbitration for 2014). We are grateful for those recognitions.

Part 3: Guest Writer

Our friend and colleague Anthony C. Adamopolous, Salem, MA, lawyer, divorce mediator and family law arbitration enthusiast contributes his recent review of the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals case First State Insurance Co.. et. al. v. National Casualty Co., involving the phenomenon of the "Honorable Engagement" provisions in arbitration agreements, which vest equitable powers in arbitrators, and insulate arbitration awards from attack.

We offer this piece, at the same time that we eagerly await the SJC's decision in Katz Nannis & Solomon, PC v. Levine (see our blog entry below), argued in December 2015, which will determine if contracting parties may do the opposite of Tony's piece, by opting in, to general appellate rights in arbitration cases.

We feel strongly both ways. At LDRC, we are fans of maximizing the choices for competent adults, so we hope that the courts support the rights of parties to either constrict rights of review or expand them, based on their own mutual determination of what is best for them. Take a read and see what you think.

Part 4: The LDRC Blog

We kept up our breakneck pace of 30 or so blog entries last year, commenting on current interests in family law. In today's newsletter, in addition to discussing the Katz Nannis case, we also feature last year’s Pfannenstiehl v. Phannenstiehl trusts-in-divorce disaster saga, in all six parts, as we all await the SJC determination of further appellate review. (Why is that taking so long?) We also highlight the very recent DeMarco decision from the Probate and Family Court. We expect many alimony decisions in 2016. We both cringe and delight in anticipation.

Please look around our blog for pieces that you may have missed. They are timely, sometimes cogent and, we hope, just a little bit off the beaten track.

Part 5: The Optimist's Verse
(The Solstice is Way Too Close To Not have Hope)

Ashes to ashes
Dust to dust
May 2016 end Tr**p For US

(We resist the temptation to crack wise about Tom Brady’s affinity for Tr**p)

See you all in the spring.

Bill and Chouteau

Use an Honorable Engagement provision to make the “steep uphill climb” toward arbitral vacatur improbable.

By Anthony C. Adamopoulos, Esq. ©2015

In May, the First Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals issued a decision of interest to arbitration practioners. Of exceptional interest is the court’s recognition that when arbitration agreements contain an Honorable Engagement provision “… the prospects for successful arbitration are measurably enhanced…”.

First State Insurance Co. and New England Reinsurance Corporation v. National Casualty Co., 781 F.3d 7 (1st Cir. 2015)1 (First State) described and confirmed, in a clear and plain manner, two concepts of arbitration: (1) the unlikelihood of having arbitration awards vacated and (2) the value of an “ honorable engagement” provision in arbitration agreements. read more...

Important Arbitration Case Pending: May Have Particular Impact on Family Law


We read with interest about the pending case Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) case, Katz Nannis & Solomon, PC v. Levine (no relation), in the October 12, 2015 issue of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Holland & Knight’s Attorney Gordon P. Katz wrote “SJC to Consider Expanded Review of Arbitrators’ Awards”, about the case, a civil action between estranged shareholders of an accounting firm. The question on appeal arises from an arbitration agreement; and specifically whether or not parties can bind each other and the court to rights of review that are broader than those that are set forth in the Massachusetts version of Uniform Arbitration Act. read more...

DeMarco v. DeMarco: Three Surprising Things


Three rarities --

-- a “Hail Mary” pass that works,
-- a trial court order that makes news, and
-- a judge who takes the hit for a litigant --

-- all converge in Judge John D. Casey’s recent decision in De Marco v. De Marco, for the Suffolk Probate and Family Court, making it remarkable beyond its outcome.

Michael DeMarco asked Judge Casey to terminate his alimony obligation to Katherine DeMarco, under M.G.L., ch. 208, §49(f), the social security full retirement age provision of the Alimony Reform Act (eff. 3/1/12). The judge advised the parties at the start of trial that he believed the result to be foregone: that §49(f) applies to all cases, and therefore, DeMarco alimony would end. The attorneys adopted the court’s view and devised a surviving settlement agreement with a terminal lump sum payment, and the end of periodic alimony. read more...

O Pfannenstiehl! Part 6: No Wonder We’re All Confused (Just What Might the SJC Do?)


We have not talked to anyone yet who is not hoping that the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) grants further appellate review, though admittedly, we have not spoken with Mrs. Pfannenstiehl or her counsel! At this point, it is hard to imagine the high court not taking the case.

We cannot know what the SJC will do on the merits, but it is hard to envision the SJC not reversing. The case is just too wrong; and it is too public. The far more intriguing question is, will the SJC improve a highly problematic situation for the bench, bar, estate planners and divorcing clients? Or will it muddy the waters further? Today, we indulge in some educated guesswork, about what the justices may, or may not, do. read more...

© 2019 Levine Dispute Resolution Center LLC. Dedham and Northampton, MA
781.708.4445 | 413.341.1017 | Email: wmlevine@levinedisputeresolution.com

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