Mediation Begins in PBS Dispute
The ongoing class action lawsuit involving Dartmouth College administration and PBS began this week. The start of mediation was confirmed by College spokesperson Diana Lawrence via email. The mediation came after a joint motion was filed by both parties in July calling that the legal proceedings be temporarily halted while they attempted to resolve the matter without litigation.
Mediation is the latest development in the $70 million lawsuit filed by seven female alumni of the College in November 2018. They claim that three professors in the psychology and brain sciences department sexually harassed and abused them and other students as a result of the College’s deliberate negligence. This abuse and harassment was ongoing for over a decade. In May, two additional students raised further allegations anonymously. In response to the additional claim, Dartmouth filed a motion that the plaintiffs should not be permitted to remain anonymous because it would hinder the investigation.
Both parties will speak about the issue outside of the courtroom with a third-party neutral facilitator overseeing the dialogue. The mediator in this case is retired judge Robert Morrill, who served on the New Hampshire Superior Court for 21 years and now works as a professional mediator based in Portsmouth, NH. Both sides were able to approve Morrill prior to the beginning of the process.
According to a Dartmouth representative, the college would prefer to reach a resolution via mediation and it is concerned about the adversarial structure of traditional litigation, should mediation prove unsuccessful. The representative further explained, “We are going into this very optimistically because we think that the mediation process, as opposed to the litigation process, is one that will be much more productive.”