Curtis von Kann

Hon. Curtis E. von Kann (Ret.)

JAMS Arbitrator, Mediator, Referee/Special Master, Neutral Evaluator

Case Manager
Naomi Hutchinson
T: 202.533.2034
F: 202.942.9186
1155 F Street, NW, Suite 1150, Washington, D.C. 20004


Hon. Curtis E. von Kann (Ret.), in 52 years as a trial lawyer, trial judge, and ADR neutral, has had hands-on experience with matters involving virtually every field of civil law, including accounting, acquisitions, anti-trust, aviation, bankruptcy, civil rights, class actions, computers, condominiums, construction, consumer protection statutes, contracts, copyright, corporations, defamation, domestic relations, employment, engineering, entertainment, environmental, ERISA, executive compensation, False Claims Act, franchising, government contracts, healthcare, high tech, hospitals, insurance, intellectual property, investments, labor laws, partnerships, patents, personal injury, product liability, professional liability, Qui Tam, real estate, securities, telecommunications, trademarks, trade secrets, and unfair competition.

Judge von Kann is also one of the country's leading authorities on the commercial arbitration process.  A Past President of the College of Commercial Arbitrators, he literally wrote the book on commercial arbitration in 2004 as Editor-in-Chief of the College’s inaugural edition of its Guide to Best Practices in Commercial Arbitration.  In the Fourth Edition of the Guide, he co-wrote the Chapter on Intra-Tribunal Relations.  In 2009, he organized and presided at the first National Summit on Business-to-Business Arbitration in Washington, DC.  He then served as Associate Editor of the manuscript reflecting the Summit’s consensus recommendations, published as the College’s Protocols for Expeditious, Cost-Effective Commercial Arbitration, which won awards from both CPR and the American Bar Association.

Judge von Kann has been listed in every edition of Best Lawyers in America since 2014.  He has served as sole arbitrator or member (usually chair) of tripartite panels in a wide variety of institutional and ad hoc cases applying JAMS, American Arbitration Association, ICDR and CPR administered and non-administered rules. 

Representative Arbitrations

  • Contracts. Claim by newspaper against Internet access provider for alleged breach of contract in terminating newspaper's website.
  • Corporate Acquisition. Claim by broker that it was entitled to a multi-million dollar commission for assisting giant European pharmaceutical company in acquiring U.S. company that held valuable patents.
  • Employment. Claims against various employers alleging wrongful discharge due to racial discrimination, violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other grounds.
  • Executive Compensation. Claims of alleged breach of contract for failure to provide severance pay and stock options to senior executive terminated by high tech company.
  • Franchises. Claims and counterclaims arising out of terminations of franchisee by national franchisors of restaurants and hotels.
  • Insurance Coverage. Dispute between insurer and placing broker regarding proper construction of rider language defining the coverage trigger for massive hurricane damage suffered by large grocery chain.
  • Intellectual Property. Arbitrated determination of royalty rates to be paid by AOL, MTV, Viacom, and other web casters for Internet streaming of recorded music.
  • International High-Tech. Claim by U.S. distributor of state-of-the-art dental imaging devices that Korean manufacturer sold the devices to other distributors in violation of an alleged exclusive distributorship agreement.
  • Mass Torts. Arbitrated the division among Fortune 100 companies of $1 billion product liability class action payment.
  • Power Plant. Competing claims between general contractor and structural steel assembly subcontractor for delay damages allegedly caused by breach of contract and faulty engineering in construction of electric power generation plant.
  • Real Estate/Construction. Claims of multiple breaches of contract in development of the nation's third largest shopping mall.
  • Resort Development. Dispute between partners in development of luxury resort in Virgin Islands concerning alleged mismanagement of the project and breaches of fiduciary duties.
  • Satellites. Dispute between satellite radio company and its insurer over whether company’s alleged failure to disclose material information barred it from recovering $80 million for loss of two satellites caused by defective solar arrays.
  • Securities. Claim by client of major Wall Street brokerage firm for huge losses allegedly caused by unsuitable investments and failure to properly execute trades.
  • Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS
  • Distinguished Neutral, CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution
  • Member, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, London
  • Past President, College of Commercial Arbitrators
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America, 2014-2022
  • Former President, Harvard Law School Association of the District of Columbia and Charles Fahy American Inn of Court
  • Former Board Member, JAMS, National Board of Trustees of the American Inns of Court, Council for Court Excellence
  • Member of two Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panels, U.S. Copyright Office
  • First person selected to hear complaints against Members of Congress and others under the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995
  • Independent Counsel of the United States appointed to investigate alleged violations of law by President Clinton's campaign chief of staff
  • Special Master to the Deputy Attorney General appointed to resolve disputes between two divisions of the U.S. Department of Justice concerning $8 billion dollar law enforcement program
  • Frequently requested ADR lecturer and trainer for numerous organizations, including the World Bank, U.S. Department of Justice, National Judicial College, CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution, American Intellectual Property Law Association, Mass Torts Institute, American Bar Association, American Law Institute, American Corporate Counsel Association, Georgetown University, George Washington University, and leading law firms

Publications (Partial List)

  • "Winning in Arbitration: The 10 Golden Rules," JAMS GEC Newsletter, Summer 2017
  • "Contemporary U.S. Commercial Arbitration Meets Ancient Chinese Curse: May you Live in Exciting Times," Canadian Arbitration and Mediation Journal (Fall/Winter 2012)
  • The College of Commercial Arbitrators Protocols for Expeditious, Cost-Effective Commercial Arbitration (2010) (available at (Associate Editor)
  • The College of Commercial Arbitrators Guide to Best Practices in Commercial Arbitration (2006) (JurisNet, LLC) (Editor-in-Chief)
  • "Alternative Dispute Resolution Can Avert Costly Court Battles," Potomac Tech Journal (October 14, 2002)
  • "Parties Should Make Arbitration Process Choices in the Contract," Metropolitan Corporate Counsel (September 2002) (co-author)
  • "Neutral Case Evaluation: A Valuable Addition to Your ADR Repertoire," Metropolitan Corporate Counsel (July 2002)
  • "A Week in the Life: Charting the Job of a Mediator in Daily Detail," Legal Times (March 25, 2002) and The Recorder (May 2002)
  • "Leaving the Bench for ADR," Legal Times (September 11, 1995)
  • "Reinventing the Jury Trial," Legal Times (January 2, 1995)
  • Arbitrator and Mediator, JAMS, 1997-present
  • Chair, ADR Department of Ross, Dixon & Masback, 1995-1997
  • Judge, District of Columbia Superior Court, 1985-1995
  • Civil Litigator, Hogan Lovells (partner) and other law firms, 1969-1985
  • J.D., Harvard Law School, 1969
  • B.A., cum laude, Harvard College, 1964

Counsel Comments

    • "You kept the parties on an expeditious schedule, you made decisions about discovery and motions promptly and decisively and you were engaged during the presentation of witnesses and argument. One of my fears in arbitrations is that the arbitrator will split the baby in an effort to keep everyone somewhat happy. You did not do that, and we never really feared that you would. You made decisions throughout the case and stuck to them.  But I can tell you that both our team and the client spoke before your ruling issued and concluded that you had been an exceptionally good arbitrator. I would be happy to work with you again or to recommend you to others."

      - IP Partner at premier national law firm




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