Karen Falkenstein GreenTwo-party small-claims settlement mediation between two former friends over the sale of a problematic used car
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Three months ago, Chris Little bought a used car from a good friend, Tom Jenks. After a week, Chris began to develop headaches while driving the car. A mechanic stated that it was due to a faulty exhaust system which would have to be replaced before the car could pass inspection. When Chris told Tom how upsetting this was, Tom initially agreed to take the car back and refund the purchase price. The next day, however, he called back to say that he had changed his mind. Later that day, Chris filed suit in Small Claims Court to recover this money. Both parties have agreed to try mediation before seeing a judge.
The organization of the exercise is left to the mediator, who may arrange separate meetings with each side, joint conferences, or both. Between 60 and 90 minutes should be allowed for the mediation. Detailed observation and/or videotaping is desirable. “A Brief Outline of the Mediation Process,” Case No. 15003.0 in Other Materials, is useful background reading for the mediator. “An Actual Small Claims Mediated Agreement,” Case No. 15004.0 in Other Materials, is useful as follow-up reading for all parties, especially if mediators have been asked to draft any agreement reached. (Hand this out after the mediators have finished their own try at drafting).
- This case tests a mediator’s skill at information-gathering and reality testing.
- Detailed review of precise language, ordering of issues, use of caucuses, and framing of issues can be enormously rewarding. Close observation and/ or videotaping is invaluable, although even student-student review is useful.
- “Saving face” and legitimacy are both important to any agreement in this case.
- The skills of separating the people from the problem are especially apropos here.
- The case raises the question of how one goes about rebuilding a fractured relationship. Does the pre-existing relationship make the mediation easier or harder, or does it depend, and if so, on what?
Confidential Instructions for:
- The Defendant, Tom Jenks
- The Plaintiff, Chris Little
- Instructions for Mediator
- All of the above
Caucusing; Communication; Drafting; Emotions; Fairness; Information exchange; Interpersonal skills; Mediation; Meeting design; Objective criteria; Partisan perceptions; Reality testing
Little v. Jenks Attributes
- Time required:
- 1-2 hours
- Number of participants:
- Teams involved:
- Agent present:
- Neutral third party present:
- Teaching notes available:
- Non-English version available:
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Ordering a single copy for review
If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, then you should order a single Teacher’s Package for that role simulation. A PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package is also available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. There is no need to order participant materials as well as a Teacher’s Package, as all Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters. Please note that the materials in Teacher’s Packages are for the instructor’s review and reference only, and may not be duplicated for use with participants.
Ordering copies for multiple participants
If you wish to order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Participant Copies.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required; the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Participant Copies.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.
In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.