Keystone Hearings and Appeals, LLC (KHA) offers a range of alternative dispute resolution services, from neutral evaluations to mediation, arbitration, or more complex hybrid processes. Services are not only available to clients involved in complex matters, such as insurance or medical malpractice claims, but also to clients involved in general matters, such as landlord/tenant disputes, domestic issues, and contract claims. In addition, KHA is available to assist government agencies with conflicts that arise in the course of business.
Attorney Case Managers
One of the highlights of the KHA program is the use of an Attorney Case Manager on every case. The Attorney Case Manager handles all communications and therefore prevents ex parte communications with the hearing officers. The use of an Attorney Case Manager on each case offers clients the advantage of a contact person who is accessible and familiar with their case. The Attorney Case Manager will assist with scheduling and directing clients through the process and is available to expedite contact with hearing officers when necessary.
The Hearing Process
The process begins when a potential client makes an inquiry with KHA via email or telephone. The Attorney Case Manager arranges to speak with the individual and to ascertain what kind of service may be warranted. Once the individual makes the decision to retain KHA, the initial set up begins. The clients are then guided, via teleconference, through a detailed case form which allows clients to choose every detail of the process, including the selection of a mediator or arbitrator(s) and whether the decision will be binding.
Upon receipt of the completed case form and retainer fee, the Attorney Case Manager notifies the panelists that have been chosen and provides the panelists with the names of the clients. While KHA recommends a panel of three, there will be cases in which the clients agree to use a single hearing officer; this could include, for example, cases using pure mediation or cases of lesser magnitude. At this stage, the panelists must advise KHA of any conflicts that might exist, and, following a clearance of the conflict check, the Attorney Case Manager proposes a schedule to be certain that the panelists can participate within the projected timeframe. The timeframe to which the panelists must adhere depends on the circumstances of the case and the specific set of rules that the clients have selected to govern the proceedings, such as the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, the American Arbitration Association Rules & Procedures, or others.
In some cases, clients may choose to conduct all proceedings via teleconference. When clients opt for face-to-face proceedings, hearings are held at various sites around the state of Pennsylvania. KHA utilizes neutral hearing locations that are equipped with amenities such as wireless internet, copy, and fax service, ample parking, and rooms available for overnight stays as needed by participants. The Attorney Case Manager and his or her staff handle arrangements for the hearing room, overnight reservations, and other details.
The Attorney Case Manager attends and keeps a record of the proceedings. He or she is responsible for making sure the proceedings run smoothly. The clients and their respective witnesses are dismissed after the case has been presented. If a panel of arbitrators has overseen the proceedings, the Attorney Case Manager observes the panel’s deliberations at the conclusion of the hearing and can assist with recall of the record as needed.
Once the hearing officer(s) reach a conclusion, they are dismissed. The Attorney Case Manager prepares a written opinion to be emailed to the hearing officer(s) for approval. If needed, a panel of arbitrators may reconvene via teleconference with the Attorney Case Manager to discuss the adjudication before rendering its approval. Finally, if a detailed written opinion is not requested, KHA sends a letter to the clients indicating the panel’s decision.
While the KHA program differs from traditional litigation in court in many ways, it is also the same in that participants must sign a waiver to clarify that our judges and staff will not be involved in any ongoing dispute or legal proceedings that might take place subsequent to our involvement.