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John Dingess presents Case Study on Dispute Resolution from the “Big Dig” at the IBA’s 2012 Annual Conference in Dublin, Ireland

The “Big Dig” located in Boston, Massachusetts was one of the largest infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the history of the United States lasting nearly 20 years and costing nearly $15 billion. In order to avoid the perceived delays and costs associated with resolving disputes through the local court system, an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism was developed for the project employing dispute review boards (DRB). For a variety of reasons, the DRB process proved to be successful during the course of the project, but not to be the best ADR solution for the Big Dig at the conclusion of the project when it was faced with over $600 million in “end of the contract” claims. The Big Dig eventually employed a hybrid-mediation process to resolve many of the project’s largest and most complex disputes. This presentation will focus on a case study of the dispute that led to the pivot from the use of DRBs to the use of mediation. The presenters will include the public works counsel who was the architect of the Big Dig ADR program, outside counsel who was responsible for handling the dispute which forms the basis for the case study, and a neutral who acted as a mediator on the Big Dig. The second half of the program will be devoted to an interactive discussion comparing the advantages and disadvantages between DRB and DAB (dispute adjudication board) with those of mediation and will be moderated by a leading international neutral.

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