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

Curtis E. von Kann is available to conduct cases virtually. JAMS is equipped to provide virtual ADR services on a variety of online platforms, including Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, and more.


During his 50 years as a trial lawyer and judge, Curtis E. von Kann handled a variety of environmental matters including:
  • Site Cleanup Action: Mr. von Kann represented a principal defendant in an action brought by the United States EPA and the State of California to compel massive cleanup of a luxury housing development in Fullerton, CA which was built on land that had been used to bury the bi-products of high octane fuel produced for the military during World War II.
  • Oil Pollution Coverage Dispute: Mr. von Kann represented a large oil company in a dispute with its insurers concerning coverage for damages caused by the gradual leakage of certain underground gasoline storage tanks in California.
  • Spill Cases: Judge von Kann presided over a case in which adjoining property owners sought to recover, from an office building owner and its insurers, damages allegedly caused by seepage of heating oil from underground tanks.
  • Environmental Case Management: Judge von Kann taught case management in National Judicial College’s Environmental Law course.
During his 19 years as an ADR neutral, Judge von Kann has successfully mediated many environmental cases including the following.

Representative Matters

  • Allocation of Landfill Cleanup Costs: A dispute involving the amount of funds to be paid to the State of New Jersey for cleanup of a large Newark landfill and allocation of those costs among 72 potentially responsible parties pursuant to state statute. Both the State of New Jersey and all responsible parties agreed to accept Judge von Kann’s settlement proposal. Judge von Kann has mediated several other cases involving allocation of landfill cleanup costs.
  • Allocation of Pesticide Plant Cleanup Costs: A dispute among ten large chemical companies regarding allocation of over $40 million in CERCLA Superfund cleanup costs relating to a former North Carolina pesticide plant. A number of technical and legal issues were addressed in the mediation and the parties ultimately agreed to abide by Judge von Kann’s suggestion regarding allocation of these costs. He then mediated a settlement between the companies and EPA concerning the final payment amount.
  • Enforcement of Consent Decree: A dispute between the U. S. Department of Justice and a large aeronautical corporation concerning implementation of a consent decree that set forth elaborate procedures for funding the cleanup of pollution at the corporation’s manufacturing plant in California.
  • Insurance Coverage Disputes: Disputes concerning insurance coverage for environmental pollution encountered at a wristwatch plant in Connecticut and a large tire manufacturing plant in Indiana.
  • Mediation of Oil Refinery Cleanup Costs: A dispute between EPA and several large companies concerning the fair amount to be paid by the companies to reimburse EPA for past and future costs of cleaning up hazardous substances released into a nearby river from a former oil refinery site in North Carolina.
  • 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




This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

von Kann_Curtis_Environmental_508