The Tennessee Supreme Court has approved an innovative Alternative Dispute Resolution Plan prepared by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission (ADRC) to assist courts facing a backlog of civil cases caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For many years, mediation has been used to successfully resolve disputes. The Plan creates a process that will make mediation more available to civil litigants as a means of providing a quicker, less expensive, and potentially more satisfying alternative to continuing litigation in a case without impairing the quality of justice or the right to a trial.
Read the ADR Plan.
The Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts (“AOC”) was awarded a State Justice Institute (“SJI”) Technical Assistance Grant (“TAG”) to retain the services of Matterhorn by Court Innovations, Inc. (“Matterhorn”) to assist the AOC with developing and implementing an online platform to resolve medical debt disputes in Hamilton County, TN, before a lawsuit is filed. We are preparing plans to establish similar programs in other areas of the state.
The goal of the Online Dispute Resolution (“ODR”) medical debt pilot is to create an easy-to-understand application using technology, legal assistance, mediation and judicial resources to provide a model for pre-court filing resolution services. Such services would minimize burdens on the courts and enhance access to justice for the state’s citizens in a manner that is asynchronous and available 24/7. If successful, the pilot can serve as a desirable tool for claim resolution across the state in many areas of legal claims in addition to medical debt.
The AOC has completed phase 1 of the pilot program and has entered into phase 2. A full report on phase 1 is available here
For more information on the TN ODR pilot please contact:
Manager, Mediation Programs
Office of Access, Innovation, & Community Engagement
Tennessee Supreme Court
Administrative Office of the Courts
511 Union Street, TN 37219
Resource Material - Implementing the Tennessee Supreme Court ADR Plan
List of ADR Exhibit Forms
The Tennessee Supreme Court and the ADRC revised the ADR Plan on November 1, 2021.
Read the ADR Plan
What is a CMC? (PP Presentation)
Pro-se Mediation Both Parties (PP Presentation)
Never-Married Parenting Mediation
ADR Video Training Sessions
Sample Order to Mediate
Sample Referral Letter to MediateFlowchart of Process
Sample Agreement to Mediate
Sample Mediator Summary ReportSample Mediation Case Summary Report
The CMCs will provide mediators with sample documents, if necessary.
Additional mediator resources are available here.
FAQs From Litigants/Public (coming soon)
“Mediation has been crucial to managing cases during the pandemic. There are cases that just cannot wait and mediation is a great option for me to use as a judge to bring the parties together in a neutral setting to find a solution. I find it particularly useful when only one of the parties is represented by an attorney. The pandemic has forced courts to innovate like no other time and increased mediation is one option every judge should be considering.” - Judge Russell Parkes, circuit court judge in the 22nd judicial district
“Mediation has been a life-saver during this pandemic. We have a very full docket and issues involving kids cannot wait. Whether it is a question of custody, schooling, or delinquency, we must act quickly to serve the best interests of children in our community. The mediation process has allowed us to safely address and resolve some cases and allow the court continuing operating and managing emergency proceedings.” - Judge Timothy Irwin, a juvenile court judge in Knox County
“We have found that clarity and transparency in the assistance provided by the local mediation center is important. Citizens who come to our court need the options and cost savings that mediation can provide, especially during these challenging times." - Judge Deborah Henderson, general sessions court judge in Shelby County
Judges, clerks, and mediators can access the Plan Toolbox from the AOC website (TNcourts.gov) and email ADRPlan@tncourts.gov with questions.