Mediation, Neutral Services and Alternative Dispute Resolution

Hon. Thomas I. Vanaskie (Ret.) chairs Stevens & Lee’s Mediation, Neutral Services and Alternative Dispute Resolution Group. A retired federal appellate and trial court judge, Judge Vanaskie leads a team of experienced professionals who assist parties by serving as mediators, arbitrators, special masters and neutral service providers. Our Mediation, Neutral Services and Alternative Dispute Resolution professionals provide a cost-effective alternative to litigation in a wide range of matters, including:

  • Business/Commercial Disputes
  • Class action/Mass tort matters
  • Disputes involving or arising under federal laws
  • Employment-related matters, including enforcement of restrictive covenants and non-compete clauses and matters where employment discrimination is alleged
  • Construction industry disputes
  • Civil rights disputes
  • Insurance
  • Personal injury/torts
  • Intellectual property disputes, including patent, trademark and copyright infringement and protection of trade secrets
  • Technology and e-discovery related disputes
  • Shareholder and partnership issues

Our Mediation, Neutral Services and Alternative Dispute Resolution Professionals

Judge Vanaskie: Mediation, Arbitration, Special Master, and Neutral Services

Philosophy and Approach to Neutral Matters

Based on his distinguished career as a federal appellate judge, a federal trial court judge, a private litigator, and trial attorney, Judge Vanaskie has unique insights into every case and an unparalleled ability to assist private parties resolve disputes through mediation. His focus in mediation is on helping private parties resolve disputes with guidance that is informed, impartial, fair and objective.

Judge Vanaskie uses his experience not to dictate mediation outcomes, but to guide parties to resolutions that are fair and practical. Unlike some mediators who focus on shuttling numbers back and forth between the parties, Judge Vanaskie combines knowledge of the law, meticulous preparation and a highly practical perspective to engage the parties in seeking creative ways to solve problems and resolve disputes.

Judge Vanaskie is also available to serve as an arbitrator and special master, as well as to preside over mock appellate arguments and trials. Based on his extensive experience as a trial and appellate court judge, parties can confidently rely on Judge Vanaskie’s ability to reach decisions that are factually supported and legally correct.

Judge Vanaskie’s expertise is matched only by his reputation for having the highest ethical standards. He therefore is a trusted partner in mediation, allowing both sides to confidently engage him in the process to help resolve their dispute.

Experience and Credentials

Whatever the nature of the dispute parties seek to mediate, Judge Vanaskie likely has “real-world” experience with similar cases and similar issues. Over more than four decades of service in the legal profession, Judge Vanaskie litigated or oversaw hundreds of complex cases involving areas as diverse as appellate, business and commercial, class action and mass tort, employment, ERISA, insurance, antitrust, securities, intellectual property, civil rights and personal injury cases.

Judge Vanaskie gained valuable insights for mediation from serving for more than 16 years as a district judge for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, including serving seven years as chief judge. As a district court judge, Judge Vanaskie successfully conducted countless settlement conferences resulting in the resolution of hundreds of cases. He also led the court’s development of a court-sponsored mediation program while serving as the district’s chief judge.

Judge Vanaskie has the unique perspective of having served both as a district court judge and as a circuit judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Appointed to the Third Circuit in 2010, Judge Vanaskie participated in and decided many complex, high profile cases. Notably, as a circuit court judge, Judge Vanaskie was approached by his district judge colleagues to conduct numerous mediations, and he successfully resolved several difficult and high-profile cases.

Judge Vanaskie also has the practical insights of a former private litigator and trial lawyer. Having come to bench as an experienced litigator, Judge Vanaskie understands the pressures parties and their counsel face in litigation, and how those pressures can impact mediation.

Judge Vanaskie also has a keen interest in assisting parties in resolving technology and e-discovery related disputes. He is a contributing member of the Sedona Conference Working Group 1 on Electronic Document Retention and Production and Working Group 11 on Data Security and Privacy Liability. From 2001 to 2008, he served on the Information Technology Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, the policymaking body for U.S. courts. Judge Vanaskie was appointed chair of the Judicial Conference Information Technology Committee by the late Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist in 2005. He was a member of the Third Circuit Judicial Council and chaired its Information Technology Committee. Since 2007, he has served as an adjunct professor of law at the Penn State and Dickinson Schools of Law, presenting a course on electronic evidence.

Representative Matters

Judge Vanaskie’s experience is highlighted by the following representative matters:

Business/Commercial

  • In re Pressure Sensitive Labelstock Antitrust Litigation, MDL 1556 (Multi-district class action alleging a conspiracy to fix prices in the self-adhesive labelstock industry): Published opinions reported at 226 F.R.D. 492 (M.D. Pa. 2005), 356 F. Supp. 2d 484 (M.D. Pa. 2005); 566 F. Supp. 2d 363 (M.D. Pa. 2008)
  • Santana Products, v. Bobrick Washroom Equipment, Inc., No. 3:CV–96–1794 (Action by toilet partition manufacturer asserting antitrust violations, false advertising and interference with contracts): Published opinions reported at 14 F. Supp. 2d 710, 69 F. Supp. 2d 678, 249 F. Supp. 2d 463, aff’d in part, rev’d in part, 401 F.3d 123 (3d Cir. 2005)

Class Action/Mass Tort

  • Bauer Bayer A.G., M.D. Pa. No. 3:CV-03-1687 (Class action by beekeepers alleging defendant’s insecticide decimated honey bee population): Published opinion reported at 564 F. Supp. 2d 365
  • In re Schering Plough Corp. Intron/Temodor Consumer Class Action, 3d Nos. 10–3046, 10–3047 (Putative class action under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act concerning marketing campaigns to influence physicians to prescribe drugs for off-label uses): Published opinion reported at 678 F.3d 235

Federal Law

  • NCAA v. Christie, 730 F.3d 208, 241-51 (3d Cir. 2014) (dissenting); and 832 F.3d 389 (3d Cir. 2016) (dissenting). Judge Vanaskie dissented twice in this action, concluding that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was unconstitutional, a conclusion the United States Supreme Court subsequently adopted and confirmed in Murphy v. NCAA, 138 S. Ct. 1461 (2018).
  • Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare Sebilius, 3d Cir. No. 10–4584 (Action concerning $5.6 million overpayment to state under the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program): Published opinion reported at 674 F.3d 139
  • Santomenno ex John Hancock Trust v. John Hancock Life Ins. Co., 3d Cir. No. 11–2520 (ERISA action claiming excessive fees on annuity insurance contracts offered to plan participants): Published opinion reported at 677 F.3d 178

Employment

  • Jeffrey Ashcroft, M.D. Pa. No. 3:CV–00–1442 (Disability discrimination claim based upon chronic obstructive pulmonary disease): Published opinion reported at 285 F. Supp. 2d 583
  • Woodard FedEx Freight East, Inc., M.D. Pa. No. 3:CV–06–1968 (Action under the Fair Labor Standards Act alleging violations of overtime provisions): Published opinion reported at 250 F.R.D. 178

Civil Rights

  • Blackhawk Pennsylvania, M.D. Pa. No. 3:CV–99–2048 (Action by Native American asserting violations of First Amendment rights by state in refusing to grant exemption from fee requirements to possess black bears): Published opinions reported at 114 F. Supp. 2d 327, 225 F. Supp. 2d 465. Affirmed 381 F.3d 202
  • Padilla Miller, M.D. Pa. No. 3:97–CV–0873 (Civil rights action based upon alleged unlawful search and seizure during a roadside stop): Published opinions reported at 143 F. Supp. 2d 453, 143 F. Supp. 2d 479

Insurance

  • H.E. Insurance Co. v. Charles Boyer Children’s Trust, M.D. Pa., No. 3:CV-04-1652 (Coverage dispute involving commercial lines insurance policy and mud and water damage to a bowling alley): Published opinion reported at 455 F. Supp. 2d 284, aff’d, 269 Fed. Appx. 220
  • Fidelity and Guaranty Underwriters, Inc. v. American Buildings Co., M.D. Pa., No. 3:CV–95–129 (Application of the anti-subrogation rule in context of property insurer’s action against warehouse manufacturer): Published opinion reported at 14 F. Supp. 2d 704

Personal Injury/Torts

  • Spence ESAB Group, Inc., 3d Cir., No. 09–4363 (Action for damages sustained when load being carried by tractor trailer shifted and tractor trailer overturned): Published opinion reported at 623 F.3d 212
  • McAndrew Garlock Equipment Co., M.D. Pa. No. 3:CV-03-0872 (Products liability action concerning exploding thin wall tubing used in roofing industry): Published opinion reported at 537 F. Supp. 2d 731

Intellectual Property

  • Laminations, v. Roma Direct Marketing, LLC, M.D. Pa., No. 3:CV–06–2108 (Patent infringement action concerning self-watering planter): Published opinion reported at 516 F. Supp. 2d 404
  • New Dana Perfumes v. The Disney Store, Inc., M.D. Pa., No. 3:CV–00–1345 (Trademark infringement action by owner of the Tinkerbell trademark): Published opinion reported at 131 F. Supp. 2d 616

Suzanne M. McSorley: Mediation and Arbitration Services

Sue is a charter member of the National Academy of Distinguished Arbitrators and Mediators, an invitation-only honorary academy, who holds certificates from the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and the Center for Mediation in Law, and was named an “ADR Practitioner of the Year” by the New Jersey State Bar Association. Sue is also a past President and a current member of the Executive Committe of the Marie L. Garibaldi American Inn of Court for Alternative Dispute Resolution, one of only two Inns of Court in the U.S. dedicated to Alternative Dispute Resolution. She has served as a neutral and assisted parties in hundreds of matters to resolve disputes outside of the litigation process. Sue handles a wide array of matters as a neutral but has extensive experience in construction-related disputes both as a mediator and as a commercial and construction arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association.

James C. Schwartzman: Mediation Services

Jim has served for many years as a Judge Pro Tempore of the Court of Common Pleas for Philadelphia County, and helped to mediate resolutions of disputes in that court’s mediation program. Jim currently serves as a Judge on the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline.

Marianne J. Gilmartin: Arbitration Services

Marianne serves as commercial and construction arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association.

Marianne’s experience is highlighted by the following representative matters:

  • Trial attorney with a multi-state commercial, construction, energy and utility practice, representing owners, developers, contractors, subcontractors, manufacturers and material suppliers.
  • Participated in several dozen construction and commercial disputes as arbitrator or mediator and served as counsel in hundreds of disputes. Has handled arbitrations concerning construction workmanship, alleged design errors, disputes with design and construction professionals over fees and pay applications, breach of contract, delay claims, catastrophic injury, prompt payment, Real Estate Seller Disclosure obligations, fraud, conspiracy and other common law, statutory and regulatory claims.
  • AAA experience also includes: reasoned award in shareholder dispute claim involving dissolution of corporation and sale of corporate assets; award in multi-party case involving inability of purchasers to develop single-use residential lots.
  • Serves as trained federal mediator on the Middle District of Pennsylvania panel of commercial mediators.

Daniel E.P. Bausher: Mediation Services

Dan is certified as an approved mediator/arbitrator for the Berks County Civil Dispute Resolution Program and serves on a panel of arbitrators and mediators in central Pennsylvania for ADR Options, a private mediation service based in Philadelphia. Dan has concentrated his practice in personal injury and tort litigation for over 40 years and has mediated or arbitrated hundreds of personal injury and tort cases over the last two decades.

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