Whether you are filing a lawsuit against someone or whether someone has filed a lawsuit against you, at some point during the litigation, you may be referred to mediation by the Court. Mediation is an alternative to trial where the parties appear in front of a mediator (which is chosen and agreed upon by the parties) in an attempt to work out a settlement agreement.
In order to have a successful mediation, the parties involved need to have authority to enter into the settlement. For example, if you are involved in mediation with a corporation, the corporations’ representative should have full authority to settle without further consultation. Under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.720(b) “Unless stipulated by the parties or changed by Order of the Court, a party is deemed to appear at mediation if the following persons are present:
1. The party or its representative having full authority to settle without further consultation.
2. The party’s counsel of record, if any.
3. A representative of the insurance carrier for any insured party who is not such carrier’s outside counsel and who has full authority to settle up to the amount of the Plaintiff’s last demand or policy limits, whichever is less, without further consultation.
If the appropriate parties are present, and an agreement is reached, then the case can be resolved. However, if no agreement is reached, the mediator SHALL report the lack of agreement to the Court without comment or recommendation. With the consent of the parties, the mediator’s report may also identify any pending motions or outstanding legal issues, discovery process, or other action by any party which, if resolved or completed , would facilitate the possibility of settlement. Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.730(a).
If an agreement is reached, it shall be reduced to writing and signed by the parties and their counsel, if any. The agreement shall be filed when required by law or with the parties consent. A report of the agreement shall be submitted to the Court or a stipulation of dismissal shall be filed. By stipulation of the parties, the agreement may be electronically or stenographically recorded. In such event, the transcript may be filed with the Court. The mediator shall report the existence of the signed or transcribed agreement to the Court without comment within 10 days thereof. Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.730(b).
Mediation is an integral part of civil litigation. When a dispute arises, and suit is filed, mediation will almost always be in your future. The parties have the opportunity to choose and agree upon a mediator to help resolve your case. If the case does not resolve, you will then find yourself in a trial posture. We have worked with numerous local mediators and have negotiated many settlements to our clients benefit. If you find yourself in a civil dispute, whether it be breach of contract or personal injury, please call our office so we can ensure the best resolution for your case.
-Christopher Atcachunas, Esquire