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Online Dispute Resolution - Legal Case Research

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Dec 07, 2016 | #1
Summary: Dietz v. Perez is a complex case of contract law where the situation escalated because Perez wanted to change the contract to include construction work done for free. Dietz had the option to reject this change of contract and walked away from the work situation. Perez sued Dietz for failing to complete the construction work and locked Dietz out of the property. Perez also went to the Internet and created reviews of the Dietz Construction Company that reflected negative content that Dietz attests to being untrue. As a result Dietz has sued Perez for slander. What this case law truly represents is how quickly agreements written or verbal can change toward the negative. Perez's expectation was that Dietz would agree to do work for free. This voided the previous contract. However, one will argue that even if she is wrong, she still has the First Amendment right to voice her displeasure with the Dietz Construction Company and how she goes about it is entirely up to her. Slander is difficult to prove because of First Amendment rights. This is a court case with the potential for years of litigation that can be costly and ineffective.

Resolving an Online Dispute

Legal Dispute ResolutionPerez uses free tools to create word of mouth about her experience with Dietz. This proves to be the best course of action in terms of exposure and affordability. E-commerce and online social platforms has opened up the world and the consumer to new implications for behavior and possible legal repercussions. What are the alternatives to traditional litigation and what dispute resolution mechanism can be put into place to resolve this matter without further court costs? The virtual world has extended into streamlining to provide legal services over the internet and this includes a form of court or online dispute resolution (OSR). Innovative has created the need for some but also supplied the solution for many. Betancourt and Zlatanska surmise such systems have provided for better access to justice than traditional methods. It remains streamlined and more cost effective but it also opens a myriad of implications where consumers or dispute holders may file claims against a party for little recourse. Filings can take place across borders and international lines of commerce allowing people who have never met to sue each other. Online dispute systems also come under fire once extraneous filings take place or possibly it just mirrors the current legal system of overzealousness? Betancourt and Zlatanska believe it saves time and money but allows recourse where needed.

Online dispute resolution platforms offers an alternative to traditional forms of litigation and possibly saves time and money for the parties involved. Dietz v. Perez remains a complex case of proving who agreed to what stipulations and who broke the contract first. What makes this case more complex and perfect for online resolution is the fact that wrongful actions on the sides of both parties extend beyond the moment of the broken contract but move toward slander and damages for lost business. What it truly reflects is how easily neglect becomes an issue for both virtual and physical worlds. How words and actions become powerful beyond the actual situation that started the relationship but also how it remains truly fixed upon finding the evidence of she said, he said. An online resolution would facilitate a more streamlined court case. It would allow for due diligence but for the parties to remain separated as to not cause more conflict. The issue of neglect, of misinformation remains significant because each party has a different view on events. Pinpointing who is truly at fault for ending the contract will also decide who is neglectful in the actions following. Dietz's separate court filing may make the point moot but the issue here is really how well the online dispute will work for these parties.

Part of the reason why online dispute resolution serves as a good alternative mechanism to traditional court is that the complexity of the dispute means more court costs and time for each party. A means of resolving the issues could take place quickly with this resolution but even then, there are still complexities that need attention. Lumineau and Malhota suggest that court cases with complexity may benefit from online dispute resolution because of the attention to detail needed to decide the facets of contract law. The more complex, the longer this takes but in an online environment such analysis could be shorter. Lumineau and Malhota also contend that with online dispute resolution, everything stays in context, all details stay relative to the frameworks of the case but this also seeks to control the amount of time and money used in these cases. So each party is better off and can move forward. The amount of effort put in is returned with a resolution that works for all parties.

One could argue the increase in telecommunications has made online dispute resolution a necessary fact of modern life. To settle disputes in a traditional way may not work for all cases but as Stipanowich surmises, the amount of cases todays facilitates the need for fast, decisive and effective decisions. To keep overburdening the traditional system when a more effective means of arbitrating exist online means there will be future movement toward this tool especially for complex cases like Dietz v. Perez. While some report it is the wave of the future, others may be distrusting but many will see a light at the end of the tunnel where justice can prevail.


Betancourt, J. C. & Zlatanska, E. Online Dispute Resolution (ODR): What Is It, and Is It the Way Forward? Arbitration, 3, 256-264.

Dietz v. Perez, 16249.

Lumineau, F., & Malhotra, D. Shadow of the contract: How contract structure shapes inter firm dispute resolution. Strategic Management Journal, 32(5), 532-555.

Monty Ahalt, A. M. What You Should Know About Online Dispute Resolution. The Practical Litigator, 20-23.

Professor Notes. Introduction to Contract Law.

Stipanowich, T. The Third Arbitration Trilogy: Stolt-Nielsen, Rent-A-Center, Concepcion and the Future of American Arbitration. American Review of International Arbitration.

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