By: Stephen P. Lagoy
One of the advantages of a mediated resolution over a litigated verdict is that the former is more likely to mitigate tensions while building understanding and trust. For parties who desire to preserve a future relationship with their adversary, mediation provides the basis for resolving future disputes and supports an ongoing relationship. Mediation is also much better equipped to deal with underlying interests which on the surface may not appear to be related to the dispute at all but, in fact, are critical to resolution. These attributes of mediation make it particularly suitable for resolving family business and estate disputes. Issues such as sibling rivalry and jealousy (which may never see the light of day in a jury trial) are all part of the mix in a family business or estate mediation.
A good example of mediation at work is the case of Pennsylvania fantasy artist Frank Frazetta. A dispute among his children reached fever pitch in December when Frazetta’s son, Frank Frazetta Jr., was caught using a backhoe to break into the artist’s museum in the Poconos. Police say he tried to remove 90 paintings insured for $20 million. Frazetta Jr. insisted he was attempting to safeguard the art from his scheming siblings. The dispute over the artist’s estate, the value of which is estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars, spawned lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Florida as well as criminal charges against Frank, Jr. The family members submitted the dispute to mediation and recently announced that they had reached a resolution of the dispute and had agreed on a cooperative strategy for the future. This positive result would have been unthinkable had the lawsuits proceeded to trial and verdict.
For more on the Frazetta family dispute, see Allentown, PA Morning Call.
For more information on mediating a family business or estate dispute, contact Stephen Lagoy.