South Texas College of Law Annotations (Houston, Tex.), Vol. 40, No. 5, Ed. 1, March, 2008 Page: 1 of 8
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Volume XXXX, Number 5
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STCL's Contemporary Advocacy Program
what it means for you
By Dorothy Meindok- Araujo
. Staff Writer
In February 2008, Judge Cianchetti,
(Retired) of California's IVAMS Arbitration
Mediation Services, handed down a landmark
decision against health insurer HealthNet
totaling over $9 Million dollars. Of this $9
Million, a majority was punitive damages.
The basis of the lawsuit was "post-claim"
underwriting, or in other words, not evaluating
a risk or its worthiness prior to issuing
coverage then waiting until a claim comes
through and then scrutinizing the application
and past medical records to look for a way to
"cancel out" the coverage and rescind on the
insured. In most states, as in this case
California, that practice is highly frowned
upon if not outlawed altogether. Here, the case
involved a self-employed hairdresser who was
diagnosed with breast cancer just two months
after her policy was issued. HealthNet, among
other minor things, rescinded coverage
because they say she lied about her weight on
the application. Because of the aibitration
clause in the application, the two parties found
themselves facing off at the table instead of
the courtroom. Sound exciting?
Frankly, if you take a close look at most
credit card agreements, standard bank
documents and recently even a few
veterinarian clinics and gyms, you might find
you are, by signing, agreeing to resolve any
and all disputes via mediation and arbitration.
It is more and more commonplace and appears
to be the preferred method of dispute
resolution among businesses and the average
In fact, many Justice Courts in Harris
County bring in mediators before trial dockets
to try to get disputes resolved in an effort to
lighten the Court's heavy docket. It is not to
say small issues are not important, but in
reality, it must be frustrating to the Court to
find that after hours of valuable time spent,
the plaintiff would have settled for a simple
apology and recognition of a wrong-doing by
the other side.
Traditionally, law school has taught
lawyers how to be great advocates and great
adversaries. There wili always, as history
proves, be a great need for that. However, not
every dispute calls for pulling off the gloves
and heavy weight rounds. For instance, if you
have been in business with several vendors
for many years and a problem arises that
cannot be resolved without legal help, it may
not be in your company's best interest to head
off for trial and permanently damage a
longstanding relationship. The mediation/
aibitration table offers an alternative.
Employers are continually looking for
individuals with keen negotiation skills.
Whether you are looking to practice along the
lines of corporate mergers, international law
or the stress filled world of family law, just to
name a few areas, negotiation skills are
paramount in representing your client well.
So what is STCL doing to keep cuniculum
up to date to prepare graduates in this area of
advocacy? Fm glad you asked!
To begin with, just down the hall from the
student lounge, we have on campus the
FRANK EVANS CENTER for CONFLICT
RESOLUTION, founded by Judge Frank G.
Evans who now serves as Senior Advisor. Hie
center is directed by Professor Kimberlee
Kovach, a nationally recognized expert in the
field of mediation and the author of at least a
few books; one which you may know,
Mediation: In a Nutshell She is assisted by
continued on pg. 2
STCL Idol Sings for Charity
By Jessica Crawford
Photographer and Writer
Although they didn't have the opportunity to go to Hollywood,
karaoke singers sang their hearts out at the South Texas Idol event
that was held by the South Texas Black Law Students Association.
The association extended an invitation to the students and staff to
join the Dean in singing.
Over seventy five students, faculty and staff members showed up
to not only sing, but to cheer on their friends as they sang a variety of
songs in the Joe Green auditorium. While others were singing, there
were snacks and beverages to enjoy outside the auditorium. While
everyone enjoyed singing karaoke, participants also gave donations
to the PlayPumps International, an organization whose mission is to
make water available to villages and towns across the African
PlayPumps was started in 1989 with the hope of transforming the
way of life in Africa and other Third World countries. The
organization's founder, Trevor Field, created a method in which play
ground equipment pumps water up to the villages, freeing valuable
PlayPumps' goal is to install 4,000 of the PlayPumps water systems
over the African continent. Through the South Texas Idol event, the
Black Students Association was able to raise over $375 to contribute
to the cause. Even if you were unable to attend the event, you may
still give a donation through PlayPumps' website, www.playpumps.oig.
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Lewis, Tamara E. South Texas College of Law Annotations (Houston, Tex.), Vol. 40, No. 5, Ed. 1, March, 2008, newspaper, March 2008; Houston, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth144588/m1/1/: accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting South Texas College of Law.