• In a reverse rear end accident where there was only minor damage to plaintiff’s vehicle, she claimed over $26,000 medical expense and another $25000 future medical care. Defendant claimed the force of impact could not have caused such severe injuries and that plaintiff over treated. Plaintiff was a young Middle Eastern woman. Although she came from a High Context Culture, she was raised in the United States and the Low Context Western Culture had been super imposed on the high context. Therefore we had to distinguish between the high and low context part of her psyche.

  • In a personal injury action involving rear end collision, defendant initially denied he was involved in an accident but later admitted it. Insurance company paid plaintiff his property damage and later put a stop on the property damage check. The offer was minimal and only the cost of defense. Plaintiff was Chinese and as such came from a high context culture. Consequently, if he had lost the case, it would cause him to lose face. It was important for him to win the case. The amount that he would win would be secondary as long as it would be a win for him.

  • Personal Injury - Rear end accident – Defendant claimed that plaintiff’s property damage and medical bills were inflated and they had evidence to show the same. Plaintiff claimed that he had a special package for the bumper on this car that cost a lot more than what the defendant was willing to allow. The special circumstance in that the defendant was Chinese and which is a high context culture. He required more time because people in high context cultures generally speak with caution and indirectly to avoid further conflicts. But it is important for them not to lose the case. Therefore it was important to have the defendant pay for Plaintiffs damages and at the same time to make sure that he would not lose face.

  • In a wrongful death of an elderly Armenian man caused by a car vs. pedestrian, action was brought by his wife. Aside from the issues relating to the value of the case when an elderly retired man is involved, there was an issue of who would be the decision maker or the decision makers. The Armenian society is a high context culture and, therefore, the decisions will have to be made collectively. In fact all the decisions were made by the two sons and the son in law of the plaintiff.

  • In a Declaratory Relief action filed by Plaintiff, the tenant of a residential property, on a lease agreement, to confirm the terms of a 3-year lease. Defendant and cross complainant claimed that they had an oral agreement for a rent that was 3 times the amount stated in the lease and either plaintiff forged her name to the lease or that since her knowledge of English is limited, she did not know what she was signing and demanded the balance of the funds and cancelation of the lease agreement. Both parties were Middle Eastern; however, plaintiff had come to the United States at a young age and had acquired an overlay of the Western Culture. Defendant had brought her daughter with her to mediation to satisfy the Collective nature of the High Context cultures. However, she had also come to the US at a young age and had acquired most of the Western culture. Therefore under the circumstances of this case, even though both Plaintiff and defendant had Middle Eastern Cultures, the mediation had to be conducted as if they were of the Western cultures.

  • In a breach of a lease agreement plaintiff asked for the full amount of the remaining term of the lease. Defendant argued failure to mitigate damages. Defendant had offered to stay and pay less than the contractual rent and plaintiff had rejected that offer. Defendant, Middle Eastern man who was from a high context culture used roundabout arguments that required more time to bring out the facts. Additionally his poly chromic style of communication would have been frustrating for the plaintiff who was American with a mono-chromic style of communication.

  • Dispute involving real estate in Iran that was willed to two brothers and a sister. The two brothers could not return to Iran for political reasons and the sister and her husband were able to sell the property, but were not able to bring the funds to the US until later. The suit alleged that had they brought the funds from the sale of the property at the time of the sale, since the value of the Dollar was lower, they each would have received 2 1⁄2 to 3 times more than if the money is brought in now. Defendant sister and her husband alleged that if they had not gone to Iran, the two brothers would not have received any money since they could not have gone to Iran anyway. Additionally, there were costs in procuring the sale of the property in which the brothers should also share. Being members of a high context society, keeping the harmony in the family was paramount. Therefore, the sister who had a high power distance and a proponent of keeping the harmony was very amenable to settlement based on the mediator proposal. The brothers, who had to save face among the family and friends, needed more persuasion.

  • In a dispute between an elderly Iranian American dentist and his Iranian American manager, the dentist sued the manager for locking him out of the office and not allowing him to practice. The dispute was about the fact that the defendant had used a swearword and not apologized. The dispute was resolved with an apology.

  • In a dispute involving trade mark infringement in Iran, the plaintiff had received a judgment from the lower court in the amount of $600,000. It would have been a loss of face if the plaintiff accepted less than the full amount of the judgment. In order to be able to save face and at the same time not face bankruptcy by the defendant, it was agreed that the defendant would pay the full amount of the loan within 24 months. However, if defendant paid $400,000 within 6 months it would be considered full and final payment.

  • In a personal injury action by an Iranian American woman for a fall from the escalator, mediation failed because her husband and son were not involved in the process. Once the correct decision makers were brought to the table, the case was settled. In the Middle Eastern Cultures decisions are made collectively and the head of the household, usually the men in the family, will have to be present.

  • Dispute involving wrongful termination and discrimination of an insurance company against an Iranian Armenian man. The defendant claimed that the termination was due to the plaintiff’s inability to produce based on their standards and there was no discrimination since they still have a large number of Iranian Americans working there. In this case the mediator must pay attention to cultural factors and the final determination was reached by paying close attention to the power distance. The plaintiff was from a culture with High Power Distance. Therefore, the statement of the person in the position of perceived power would be given higher deference.

Cross-Cultural