Friends: I have to confess, I back slid recently and agreed to mediation of a client’s case. I had not agreed to a mediation of my clients’s cases in several years, primarily because of a sense that mediation generally was not successful and perhaps was even counterproductive, pushing the opposing parties even further into their corners as positions became entrenched due to ridiculous positions taken during mediation, all through the implicit stamp of approval of a rather expensive mediator (who, by the way, gets paid regardless of whether he or she is successful in resolving the case). I regret allowing my client to agree to mediate his case. And again, I have made my pact with myself not to make that mistake again. Here is a short list (certainly not exhaustive) of reasons why I have fallen out with mediation of personal injury cases.
- Defense counsel get away with childish, immature positions and remarks. I had a case once in which the insurance carrier wanted to try to settle prior to my filing a lawsuit. I gave them a dollar amount to do just that. They refused. They took the “so sue me” attitude. So I accommodated them and sued their insured. After two years of litigation, when the insurance carrier is in the corner because of the egregious facts that I have now exposed during discovery, I make a new demand reflecting the increase in value of the case in the last two years. Defense lawyers and the insurance adjuster say they “are hurt” by the increase and take away their initial offer in bad faith at medication. Did I not tell them that their best opportunity to settle the case was before I filed suit and litigated the case for years, and that in so doing, their case would only get worse?
- Defense counsel approach me to mediate, saying “they really want to get the case resolved.” So I agree to mediation. My clients take a day off from their jobs. We are paying a mediator. Insurance adjuster offers at mediation only what was already on the table BEFORE mediation and says that’s it, take it or leave it. That’s one of the most UNprofessional things I can even imagine, yet it happens. A simple phone call to me would have sufficed. Yet they put my client through the stress and expectation that maybe finally, after two years of duking it out, they have come to their senses and want to resolve the case for what is only fair. Nope.