No matter what choices are made in the handling of Alumina’s legal problems, the members of Team D believe that one of the most important factors to consider is the potential public relations problem. Davenport, Fico, and Detwiler (2001) completed a study of Michigan daily newspapers and found that 92 percent of reporters questioned state the Internet as a commonly used resource, along with other online databases. This research emphasizes the change in the speed at which the media can acquire information, as opposed to previous years.
When reporters first started accessing corporate information that became available due to the Freedom of Information Act (FOAI), it involved hours of digging through huge stacks of printed documents. Since the FOAI now includes electronic and digital information, newspapers can now download, analyze, and print resulting information in a very short amount of time. Although this may seem like a good use of available technology, Davenport, Fico, and Detwiler also comment about the inherent problem.
“Journalists’ ability to access computerized information sources means that newsrooms are obtaining a capability to report more broadly and deeply about the community and the nation than ever has existed before. Such a capability, of course, may not be reflected in the journalistic product” (p. 44). Since information, either accurate or inaccurate, can be distributed so quickly, Team D feels that it is very important to make sure that Alumina does not look bad in the local news. We agree that using exemption 4 under the FOIA is the best way to limit company exposure.
This exemption allows a company to not release information that involves trade secrets or information declared to be privileged or confidential. These limitations make is more difficult for a newspaper or a competitor to engage in a “fishing expedition” in an attempt to find damaging information for the purpose of hurting a company. (Anonymous, 1998). This is especially important when dealing with emotional issues, such as this one involving a child with cancer. Paragraph on emotional issues and jury verdicts.
Since the company also needs to avoid exposure to even more lawsuits, Team D believes that arbitration should have been given a little more consideration, instead of mediation. In the very least, the mediation approach should have been looked at more carefully. For example, Peppit (2003) discusses various approaches to contingency fee mediation (CFM), which he defines as including “any fee arrangement whereby a mediator’s compensation depends upon some characteristic of the mediated outcome, such as its amount, form, or timing” (p. 227).
Ethical rules concerning this issue have remained strict because the general feeling is that a mediator cannot remain impartial, if his or her pay is dependant upon the outcome. Peppit believes that this does not necessarily have to be the case. He feels that ethics rules concerning this issue should be relaxed, if all parties agree by contract. He state that “a contractarian approach to mediation ethics would guide parties through tailored default rules that permitted parties and mediators to shape their mediation to best meet the parties’ needs” (p.227).
For example, both sides may be willing to part with some of their money saved by the arbitration, in order to pay an arbitrator that is so effective that the dispute is resolved very quickly and to everyone’s satisfaction. In this case, Team D believes that a solution more suitable to Alumina could have been reached, even if it required more fees or proceeding to more costly arbitration. Team D believes strongly that a better solution for Alumina would have resulted in decisions that carried less suggestion of guilt.
Although the plaintiff is bound by confidentiality, as previously stated, it is too easy for the press to gain information that may result from the arbitration. (add in more stuff about apparent guilt and irreparable harm to the company’s reputation). In the first place, Team D feels that Alumina handled this whole situation completely wrong. First and foremost, a hit man should have immediately been hired to take care of this lying bitch.
This would have clearly been the most cost effective, as fifty grand would have easily paid for the murder and disposal of the body. Thirty thousand would have sufficed, but the company has to pay extra to avoid any EPA fines, if her body were to wind up polluting the lake. In this case, they would be back where they started. Thus, an extra twenty thousand is required for the hit, which, unfortunately, will have to be passed on to customers through increased prices.