room. As we discussed the pros and cons
of the case, I offered the plaintiff’s comments to the plant manager.
“The plaintiff thinks very highly of you, Mr. Tugato,” I said.
“He asked me to tell you that he recognizes that you do an excel-
lent job as plant manager. He wants very much for you to stay with
the company, regardless of how this disagreement is resolved.”
I paused and added, “He hopes that you would view the
million a year you are earning as an incentive to stay on with the
Tugato’s bushy eyebrows rose. “Buehler, you tell the
Americans I am insulted. It offends me that they suggest that I
can be bought by the Yankee dollar,” he growled. “I am no slave
to the Yankee dollar. You tell them I said that,” he ordered. The
Japanese advisers and the defendant nodded in stern indignation
and full agreement with Tugato. I made a note on my legal pad
and moved to another issue.
An hour later, I was halfway out the door, leaving the room to
meet again with the plaintiff, when Mr. Tugato called me.
“Buehler,” he barked.
I turned and looked at him. “Yes, Mr. Tugato, what is it?”
“Tell them a million-two and I’ll stay,” he said with a smile.
Wee. Come here, Pee Wee.”
But shouts from Pee Wee’s owner didn’t deter
the pointy-eared little dog. He raced across the
street in pursuit of the Boxer. Seconds later, the
frightened skateboarder was nearing the speed of
sound, his fist frozen in a death grip on the Boxer’s
leash, as the big dog chased Pee Wee down the
sidewalk. A wheel of the speeding skateboard
struck a crack in the concrete, sparks flew, and
the Boxer’s owner flew
off. He hit the sidewalk.
In the tumble, he broke both elbows.
The young skateboarder required surgery and eventually recovered with only a
slight restriction in range of motion. He
hired an attorney and sued Pee Wee’s
owner, claiming the man was negligent in
allowing his dog to get out without a leash
and cause his injuries, plus $9,000 in medical bills.
I was hired as the mediator.
“We are not willing to pay more than
the medical bills,” Pee Wee’s lawyer told
me. “We believe liability is paper-thin. Pee
Wee has no history of escaping. It’s not
foreseeable Pee Wee would cross the
street, or that the Boxer would chase her,
or, certainly not, that a skateboarder
would be attached to the Boxer. The jury
will probably put a high percentage of
comparative fault on the skateboarder or,
more likely, find 100 percent in our favor,”
he said. “Tell him he had better take the
offer for payment of the medical bills.”
In less than an hour, the skateboarder’s
lawyer decided against my recommendation to accept the $9,500 offer from the
homeowner’s insurance carrier. The mediation was over. I was certain the plaintiff’s
A young man rode a skateboard down the
sidewalk in a public park. Gripping the taut leash on his Boxer, he
commanded the big dog to pull him faster.
Across the street, a man’s doorbell rang, and he opened his
screen door to speak to his visitor. When he did so, his small
brown dog slipped through the door’s opening and raced out of
the house, streaking toward the Boxer in the park across the
“Pee Wee, come back here,” shouted the man. “Oh, no, Pee
Mr. Tugato —continued
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