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Hon. Michael H. Dolinger

Hon. Michael H. Dolinger (Ret.)

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Upcoming Events
General Biography
Practice Areas
Business Commercial
Civil Rights
Employment & Labor Law
Estate Probate Trusts
Intellectual Property
Personal Injury/Libel/Sexual Abuse
Product Liability
Professional Liability
Real Estate & Real Property
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

Hon. Michael H. Dolinger (Ret.) joined JAMS in 2017 after serving for more than thirty-one years as a United States Magistrate Judge in the Southern District of New York. During that time, he handled settlement efforts in thousands of lawsuits, ranging from relatively straightforward personal injury actions to complex statutorily-based claims to massive class action lawsuits presenting complex problems of constitutional and commercial law. At the same time, he presided over pretrial matters and trials in thousands of cases of equivalent breadth and complexity.

Prior to his service on the bench, Judge Dolinger was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, Civil Division. In that role, which included stints as Deputy Chief Appellate Attorney and Civil Division Deputy Chief, he handled a broad array of cases, involving, among other things, constitutional challenges to statutes, attacks on agency regulations and actions, civil rights claims (both by and against the government), personal injury and other tort claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act or Bivens and labor issues that triggered federal government involvement.

Judge Dolinger recognizes that the settlement process is unique to each case and demands sensitivity not only to the potentially discordant interests of the participants (counsel as well as clients) but to the psychological dynamics as well. He appreciates the fact that patience and creativity are essential to the potential success of these efforts. It is these very complexities that have attracted him to the bench and that continue to serve him well as a Neutral at JAMS.   

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • As a former judge and experienced ADR Neutral, Judge Dolinger draws upon his vast legal experience in a wide variety of cases including those in the realms of  admiralty/maritime, antitrust, aviation, business and commercial, civil rights, employment and labor law, environmental, insurance, intellectual property, personal injury, and real estate/real property across a wide range of industries.
  • Judge Dolinger has served as a guest lecturer at Columbia Law School and other educational and professional organizations.

Representative Matters

  • Admiralty/Maritime
      • Breffka & Hehnke Gmbh v. M/V Glorious Success: Supervised pretrial discovery and adjudicated dispositive and non-dispositive sanctions motions in cargo-damage case.
      • Jones v. Spentonbush Red Star Co.: Supervised pretrial proceedings in personal injury case brought by seaman.
      • Spencer v. Sealand Service Co.: Conducted all proceedings until termination of Jones Act case, apparently by settlement.
      • Conducted several Jones Act trials, including one involving tugboat crewman who suffered crushing injuries to both legs, and asserted claims for negligence. 
  • Antitrust & Competition
      • United States v. ASCAP, Application of Showtime the Movie Channel: Adjudicated first so-called rate-court proceeding, under 1950 amended consent decree, to establish fees for public performance of ASCAP copyrighted music.
      • United States v. ASCAP, Application of Buffalo Broadcasting Inc.: Adjudicated fee applications by approximately 1,000 local television stations for seventeen-year period. 
      • United States v. ASCAP, Application of Turner Broadcasting Systems: Adjudicated, by summary judgment, application by ASCAP to permit it to require separate licenses from cable program suppliers and system operators for broadcast of same programs.
      • United States v. ASCAP, Application of Pandora and parallel cases: One of a series of applications for ASCAP licenses by various new media. Supervised settlement discussions of multiple such cases.
      • In re Fresh Del Monte Pineapple Antitrust Litig.: Supervised pretrial proceedings in multi-district litigation by competitors of Del Monte alleging that company misused its plant patents for extra-sweet pineapples to squeeze out competitors. 
  • Aviation
      • GE Capital Corp. v. Gary: Presided over suit on defaulted loan agreement for purchase of multiple aircraft. Handled pretrial proceedings and adjudicated defense of defendant guarantor that agreement was unenforceable.  
      • Landy v. FAA: As Assistant U.S. Attorney, represented FAA in civil penalty action based on aircraft operators’ violation of numerous FAA safety and inspection regulations. Prevailed at two jury trials that resulted in largest FAA penalty award against an individual defendant, a result affirmed by the Second Circuit (705 F.2d 624). 
      • Feldman v. UPS: Adjudicated suit against air carrier for loss of insured diamond. Supervised discovery and granted partial summary judgment under federal common law, but reserved negligence and contract claims for trial.
  • Business Commercial
    • Breach of Contract
      • Arbitrated matter (multi-day hearing) involving claims, inter alia, for breach of contract and fiduciary duty relating to partnership’s financing of litigations. 
      • Arbitrated breach of contract and fraud claims of cannabis investors battling over shares of merged business entities.
      • Arbitrated (multi-day hearing) breach of contract and state franchise law dispute between parties to kick boxing enterprise. 
      • Arbitrated multi-party dispute involving control of music talent management company, with related landlord-tenant dispute, and that of radio network that allegedly failed to pay wages after termination of claimant’s radio program.   
      • Arbitrated disputes by law firms for non-payment of fees, some of which also involved claims by clients of alleged overpayments, malpractice, or both. 
      • Arbitrated dispute between undergraduate and university involving alleged failure to award a degree and alleged misrepresentations by university, and dispute of student expelled by medical school. 
      • Mediated matter involving former media personality and sexual harassment accuser involving alleged violation of non-disclosure provisions of settlement agreement. 
      • Mediated matter involving application of limited indemnification clause to damage resulting from fire that originated on large ocean-going vessel. 
      • Mediated matter between global fossil fuel producer and storage company regarding alleged impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the parties’ agreement. 
      • Served as Special Referee (multi-year tenure with extended discovery rulings) in alleged breach of contract and promissory estoppel matter by professors challenging medical school compensation policy. 
      • Fitzpatrick v. AIG: Presided over lawsuit by senior AIG real estate executive suing for eight- or nine-figure damages based on alleged breach of employment agreement.
      • Arbitrated matter involving claims of fraud and misappropriation of crypto assets between former partners of a crypto investment and consulting business. 
      • Parlin Funds LLC v. Gilliams: Supervised pretrial proceedings in suit by family foundation allegedly defrauded of $2 million by multiple actors after initial defalcation.
      • Safflane Holdings Inc. v. Gagosian Galleries, Inc. and Metropolitan Museum of Art v. Safflane Holdings: Supervised pretrial proceedings in parallel lawsuits and conducted extensive, successful, settlement concerning ownership of two paintings.
      • Cogswell v. Goldstein: Conducted two jury trials addressing claims of fraud, fiduciary breach and conversion by racing-horse owner against bank-appointed financial advisor. 
      General Business
      • Arbitrated dispute between real estate developer and company that had been contracted with to remove toxic waste from site. 
      • Arbitrated matter between feature film investors and director involving alleged failed contractual payments and damages caused by artistic and production decisions. 
      • Mediated protracted disputes involving family and non-family real estate investors seeking corporate dissolution.  
      • Mediated dispute and engaged in significant post-mediation follow-up in matter involving noted pop artist, court-appointed guardian, family members, and business associates involving allegations that artist had been financially exploited. 
      • Starr Int’l Co. v. AIG: Presided over pretrial process in dispute involving whether company controlled by AIG’s former CEO had title to shares potentially worth as much as $15 billion.
      • Development Specialists Inc. v. Dechert LLP: Presided over pretrial process, including discovery, in case addressing effect of Dechert’s absorption of Coudert Frere’s business in France.
      • AXA Inv. Mgr. v. Endeavor Corp.: Adjudicated lawsuit over breach of put/option agreement and guarantee. 
  • Civil Rights
      • Mediated matter involving conviction of man who received lengthy prison term for non-fatal stabbings and who was eventually released from prison after his sibling confessed responsibility for incidents.  
      • Haus v. City of New York and parallel cases: Supervised discovery, adjudicated summary judgment motions and undertook extended, successful settlement negotiations in class action brought on behalf of thousands of participants in the February 15, 2003 protest against the impending Iraq war, as well as in more than twenty similar suits.    
      • Wesley v. City of New York and parallel cases: Presided over approximately twenty lawsuits (all but one pro se) by Muslim prisoners at Rikers Island who alleged that prison authorities did not provide properly prepared Halal meals. Handled all discovery disputes and adjudicated dismissal and other dispositive motions in all cases. 
      • Tesoro v. Simat Helliessen & Eichner and EEOC v. Simat Helliessen & Eichner: Presided over lawsuits under Title VII by six female Simat employees and the EEOC alleging prolonged sexual harassment by Simat President and conducted negotiations that resulted in large settlement.
  • Employment & Labor Law
    • Discrimination
      • Arbitrated matter involving senior employee’s allegations that multinational bank terminated her after she complained about environmental office conditions and impact of same on her asthma. 
      • De la Rosa v. 597 Broadway Dev. Corp.: Suit by wheelchair-bound individual challenging absence of a ramp on historic downtown building; supervised pretrial discovery, adjudicated summary judgment motions, and supervised settlement discussions on one narrow issue remaining after partial summary judgment.
      • Wexelberg v. Project Brokers LLC: Adjudicated dispositive motions in suit by former employee with physical handicap who complained that employer knowingly assigned him tasks beyond his ability. 
      Executive Compensation & Employee Severance Claims
      • Arbitrated dispute between major investment banking firm and former high-level executive allegedly entitled to vested cash and equity benefits. 
      • Arbitrated dispute between family members, partners in a small business venture, over calculation of severance payments allegedly owed to family member.
      • Algie v. RCA Global Communications: Presided over severance claims of twenty-three former employees of RCA Global fired the day after MCI acquired RCA Global.
      • Downes v. JP Morgan: Adjudicated dispositive motions in suit by former purported independent contractor who challenged JP Morgan’s denial of benefits.
      • Tischmann v. ITT Sheraton Corp.: Presided over matter by terminated manager of St. Regis Hotel for denial of severance benefits based on assertion he had been discharged for cause (sexual harassment). 
      • Kornreich v. Society for the Advancement of Judaism: Conducted extended successful settlement discussions in retirement benefits suit by retired cantor against synagogue.
      • District 1199 v. Nat’l Health & Hosp. Workers Union: Presided over applications by 1199 union leaders for TRO and preliminary injunction to stave off impending national union disciplinary proceedings.

      Sexual Harassment/Hostile Work Environment/Retaliation
      • Arbitrated dispute (eight-day hearing) between mid-level employee and multinational entertainment company involving allegations of sexual harassment, hostile work environment and retaliation. 

      Wage & Hour/Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
      • Arbitrated several minimum wage and overtime pay matters. 
      • Ke v. Saigon Grill Inc.: Handled pretrial discovery, adjudicated summary judgment motions, and conducted two-week bench trial of wage and hour case brought by thirty-six restaurant deliverymen.
      • Kim v. Kum Gang: Supervised pretrial proceedings and conducted week-long bench trial of wage and hour case brought by twenty-three restaurant workers for alleged underpayment of wages, wage theft and other unlawful practices.
  • Environmental
      • Indian Harbor Insurance Co. v. Lamson: Supervised successful settlement negotiations in case involving coverage for cleanup of underground toxic waste found on industrial site.
  • Estate Probate Trusts
      • Arbitrated dispute between siblings over management of elderly mother’s medical, household, and financial affairs.
      • Weiss v. Weiss: Conducted jury trial on claims of entitlement by stepson to proceeds from various segregated accounts set up and then emptied by his stepfather. 
      • Thomas & Agnes Carvel Foundation v. Carvel: Adjudicated motions for dismissal and summary judgment in suit involving attempts by niece of soft ice cream magnate to claim uncle’s estate.
  • Insurance
      • Chairperson of several arbitral panels involving claims for alleged property loss and/or business interruption which settled after extended discovery. 
      • Served as Special Referee (multi-year assignment involving  substantial discovery) in matter involving liability of multiple insurance companies and major football league to former players allegedly suffering from concussive injuries.
      • In re Avon Prods. Inc. Securities Litig.: Adjudicated dismissal motions addressed to securities class action complaints against Avon and its senior officers based on alleged failure to disclose financial and related problems.
      • In re Global Crossing Inc. Securities and ERISA Litigs.: Presided over extensive successful settlement negotiations in parallel class action shareholder securities fraud and employee ERISA lawsuits following demise of Global Crossing.
      • In re WorldCom Inc. Securities and ERISA Litigs.: Presided, together with Hon. Robert W. Sweet, over prolonged successful settlement negotiations in parallel class action shareholder and employee ERISA lawsuits after collapse of WorldCom.
      • In re Omnicom Group Inc. Secs. Litig.: Supervised discovery in class action securities fraud lawsuit.
  • Intellectual Property
    • Copyright
      • Mediated dispute over competing rights to use of video in television special featuring a now-deceased and iconic American singer and actor. 
      • Mediation of dispute between artist and multinational technology company involving allegations of online sale of unlicensed copies of artist’s painting.  

      • Briese Lichttechnik Vertriebs v. Langton: Supervised contentious pretrial proceedings in patent-infringement case involving reflective umbrellas, including discovery, extensive sanctions motion practice and preclusion orders against defendant.

      Trademarks/Trade Dress
      • Mediated matter between multinational aerospace corporation and foreign aerospace manufacturer involving allegations of misuse of certain trade and technological secrets.
      • Lon Tai Shing Co. v. Koch + Lowy: Conducted week-long evidentiary hearing on, and adjudicated, preliminary injunction motion by halogen desk-lamp distributor based on trade dress claims. 
      • BLT Restaurant Group v. Tourandel: Presided over suit by restaurant chain against prominent chef who after departing allegedly copied plaintiff’s menus, food names and recipes.
      • Louis Vuitton Malletier v. Dooney & Bourke: Presided over pretrial proceedings, including extended contentious discovery, in trademark lawsuit involving alleged confusing similarities of high-priced bags.
      • RFMAS v. Mimi So: Presided over pretrial proceedings, including extended discovery, in suit by jewelry designer contending that various prominent entities were designing and marketing copies.
  • Personal Injury/Libel/Sexual Abuse
      • Mediated matter involving allegations that claimant had been subjected as child to sexual abuse by member of religious order.
      • Leo v. LIRR: Conducted jury trial and adjudicated post-trial motions following large plaintiff’s verdict on claim of LIRR negligence causing hand injury to railroad worker.
      • Israeli v. Ruiz: Conducted jury trial and adjudicated post-trial motions following large plaintiff’s verdict on negligence claim involving operation of Hunts Point market forklift.
      • Ramsey v. NYP: Suit by parents of young, murdered daughter regarding news stories suggesting the guilt of their son. Handled all pretrial proceedings, which culminated in settlements.
      • Konikoff v. Prudential Realty: Adjudicated libel suit by former employee of Prudential’s real estate business based on press items implying her responsibility for improper evaluations of the company’s real property holdings.
  • Product Liability
      • Engaged in general pretrial supervision of products liability matters during tenure on the bench. 
      • Served as Special Referee for three-day in camera review of documents relating to products liability lawsuit. 
  • Professional Liability
      • Romano v. SLS Residential Inc.: Handled pretrial proceedings with anticipation of trial in negligence and deliberate mistreatment suit involving residents of now-shuttered private psychiatric treatment center. 
      • Hersko v. United States: Presided over pretrial phase of medical malpractice suit against United States and private doctors for death of mother while delivering her fourth child.
  • Real Estate & Real Property
      • Arbitrated series of disputes involving construction of a new hotel.
      • Served as Special Referee (extended assignment) appointed to supervise conduct of discovery in a protracted commercial real estate dispute. 
      • Obeid v. LaMack: Supervised contentious discovery and undertook extended settlement negotiations in suit among three major real estate investors whose LLC owned numerous hotels and retail properties.
      • Parker Hannifin v. North Sound Properties: Supervised pretrial proceedings and adjudicated summary judgment motions involving entitlement to escrowed funds for failed real estate sale. 

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Member, Bar Association of the City of New York
  • Past member (two terms), City Bar Association Federal Courts Committee
  • Contributing member of federal courts 2003/2004 subcommittee to study role of the courts in trying enemy combatants (“The Indefinite Detention of ‘Enemy Combatants’: Balancing Due Process and National Security in the Context of the War on Terror”)(issued February 2004)
  • Past member and chair of S.D.N.Y. Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity
  • Author of updated S.D.N.Y. handbook on equal employment opportunity policies and procedures
  • Past member of S.D.N.Y. Rules Committee
  • Past guest lecturer at Columbia Law School and other schools and professional organizations
  • Recipient, The William M. Tendy Public Service Award from the Robert B. Fiske, Jr. Association, 1995
  • Department of Justice, Special Commendation for Outstanding Service in the S.D.N.Y, 1984
  • Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS

Background and Education

  • United States Magistrate Judge, S.D.N.Y., 1984 – 2015
  • Assistant United States Attorney, Civil Division, S.D.N.Y., 1976 – 1984
  • Deputy Chief, Civil Division, S.D.N.Y.
  • Deputy Chief Appellate Attorney, Civil Division, S.D.N.Y.
  • Associate, Law Firm of Nickerson, Kramer, Lowenstein, Nessen, Kamin & Soll, 1973 – 1976
  • Law Clerk to the Hon. Wilfred Feinberg, Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 1972 – 1973
  • J.D., Columbia Law School, 1972
    • Editor in Chief, Columbia Law Review, 1971 – 1972
    • Robert Nixon Toppan Prize (constitutional law)
    • Class of 1912 Prize in Contracts (co-winner)
    • Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, 1969 – 1970, 1971 – 1972
  • B.A., magna cum laude, Columbia College, 1968
    • Phi Beta Kappa


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