Hon. Allen Hurkin-Torres (Ret.) served as a Justice of the Supreme Court in Kings County, New York, where -- after initially sitting both as a criminal and civil trial judge -- he was placed in charge of the court's entire inventory of trial-ready civil cases. In that position, he was responsible for managing one of the largest and most diverse caseloads in the United States. One of his primary responsibilities involved resolving cases through mediation, and he is credited with more than 15,000 settlements across the entire spectrum of civil cases. Added to his inventory were cases from the court’s specialized parts, including all of the cases against the City of New York, the New York City Transit Authority, and all of the medical malpractice cases against the New York City Health and Hospital’s Corporation. On the bench, his ability to resolve cases through mediation eliminated the court’s backlog of cases. At retirement, he was acknowledged to be one of the most successful judges in New York State, recognized both for his knowledge of the law and even-handedness, as well as his unique ability to distill complex problems to their essence through a practical, common-sense approach to mediation. Currently one of the most in-demand mediators nationally, Justice Hurkin-Torres is available to mediate or arbitrate every type of civil litigation, worldwide.
ADR Experience and Qualifications
- With well in excess of two billion dollars of successful settlements since joining JAMS in 2010, including almost 200 million dollars of settlements in just the first six months of 2016, Justice Hurkin-Torres is one of the most successful mediators in the United States. His cases have spanned the globe, from damage to a major passenger airliner occurring in Cairo, Egypt, to a fire damage claim involving an energy facility in Hawaii, to large-scale construction defect claims across the United States. Many of the claims have involved high-profile celebrities, including rock stars, rap stars, and famous sports figures, who require that their sensitive legal disputes be resolved in a confidential setting. The wide range of litigation that Justice Hurkin-Torres has handled include disputes concerning post-termination compensation packages for CEOs of publicly traded corporations, employment discrimination matters, buy-outs of departing members of closely held corporations, and issues concerning restricted versus non-restricted stock provisions. He has also handled complex cases involving long-term contractual disputes between a specialized equipment supplier and one of the world’s largest energy providers. He also specializes in handling complex multi-party insurance coverage matters.
- Special Master/Mediator: In Re Steam Pipe Rupture Litigation: Recognizing his ability to manage complex multi-party litigation, the Supreme Court, State of New York appointed Justice Hurkin-Torres to serve as Special Master/Mediator for the litigation arising from the massive explosion occurring from the underground steam pipe explosion at 41st Street and Lexington Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. The explosion generated multiple lawsuits brought on behalf of hundreds of midtown Manhattan commercial entities, with claims in excess of 100 million dollars, for business interruption and property damage, as well as catastrophic personal injury claims. In this role, he expeditiously took the parties through discovery, and has resolved a majority of the claims.
- Commissioner, Feerick Commission: Judge Hurkin-Torres' skills as a problem solver were recognized by the Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, who appointed him as a Commissioner to help formulate a blueprint for reforming the laws governing the election of judges in the State of New York, with the goal of restoring public confidence in the judiciary. In that role, he joined 28 other distinguished Commissioners to the well-known Feerick Commission, including the vice-president and general counsel of the Hearst Corporation, senior counsel to the Eastman-Kodak Corporation, the former New York Secretary of State and Deputy Mayor of the City of New York, the former counsel to Governor Cuomo, the former counsel to Governor Pataki, and a former Court of Appeals Judge.
- Private Sector: In addition to his extensive judicial experience, Justice Hurkin-Torres brings a wealth of practical experience in the context of commercial litigation. Besides mediating and settling countless commercial disputes, Justice Hurkin-Torres worked in a family-owned real estate business buying, selling, and developing both residential and commercial properties in New York City. From that experience, he has hands-on experience in the business, litigation, investment, and contracting side of the real estate business, giving him an intimate knowledge of construction, construction defect, and property damage cases, along with all of the insurance related issues. Justice Hurkin-Torres still maintains real estate holdings in the tri-state area.
- Not-for-Profit Sector: Because of his diverse business and legal background, Justice Hurkin-Torres was recruited by local New York City elected officials to become the Chairman of a financially distressed not-for-profit corporation providing services for the indigent population and after school services for children in the Sunset Park area of Brooklyn. As part of his efforts to stabilize the organization, he initially reorganized the executive and management positions of the corporation, then negotiated and restructured the corporation’s current tax and debt obligations into long-term manageable obligations. He put in place a new board of directors, established new short-term and long-term goals, and raised new capital from both governmental and private funding sources. After two years, he left the organization on sound financial footing, with a reliable financial team and plan in place. Because of his successful efforts in community outreach, Justice Hurkin-Torres became a member of the Board of Directors of an organization that provided management and financial advice to both new and distressed businesses operating in the nonprofit sector. In that capacity, he taught not-for-profit organizations to act proactively and to operate effectively by avoiding common business pitfalls.
- Legal Skills: While his skills as a mediator are well known to the Bar, his reputation as a “law man” is sometimes forgotten. This reputation is well deserved, and is a result of the years he served as the principal law clerk for the Appellate Division, First Department of the State of New York, where his responsibilities involved writing and researching decisions for that appellate court in every substantive and procedural branch of law.
- Because of this background, he has been a frequent lecturer for the New York State Office of Court Administration, which runs New York State’s court system, teaching courses to both new and experienced judges on the art and science of mediation and settlement skills. His background has also led him to be in demand as a lecturer on all aspects of civil practice and litigation for numerous bar associations, including the New York State Bar Association, the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the New York Academy of Trial Lawyers, and the Defense Association of New York, among others.
- His practical experience also extends into the music industry. During the late 1970's and early 1980's, he wrote and produced several songs and records that endure to this day. In this regard, in the last few years he negotiated contracts with Hewlett Packard, NBC, and iTunes for the rights to his own music, which has been used by, among others, the Jay Leno Show and international marketing campaigns. Currently, he is being screen tested by multiple media companies for law related programs in both New York and Hollywood for national television and cable shows.
- While Justice Hurkin-Torres uses traditional mediation techniques and is well versed in all mediation methods, a substantial portion of his practice involves cases that have been mediated by other mediators, using traditional mediation methods without success. In these cases, Justice Hurkin-Torres has a unique ability to work “outside the box” to get the parties to a resolution. He has an unparalleled success rate on difficult cases, and parties involved in difficult negotiations with him have widely commented after a successful negotiation that they would like to learn more about his new and transformative way of negotiating to a “win-win” solution to their problems. His cutting edge techniques have been recognized by one of the leading authors on litigation strategy, Randal Kiser. (See, “How Leading Lawyers Think: Expert Insights into Judgment and Advocacy”, by Randal Kiser who states: “This book also has been enhanced by discussions with Judge Allen Hurkin-Torres … whose experience in settling more than 15,000 cases provided an invaluable perspective on case evaluation and settlement negotiations.”)