Mediation in “good faith”?

Is there such a concept of mediation in “good faith”?

In the spirit of compromise and resolution, you would think that the parties would be honest and willing to negotiate in good faith. I had a case a while back with the following details.

Party 1: Female about 19 years old, suing to get her personal possessions from an ex-roommate.

Party 2: Father of ex-roommate, family residence. Represented by an Attorney.

Relationship between his daughter and her friend (party 1) soured and party 1 was asked/forced to move out. Her possessions were placed haphazard into the garage of the house. Furniture was scratched and damaged in the moving from the house to the garage.

sheriff-arrestParty 1 came back to the house to collect her possessions and the situation turned angry. Sheriffs’ dept was called and party 1 was given a “no trespass warning” and told not to return to the property, she did a few days later. In lieu of arrest, the officer gave her a ticket and a summons with the date/time to appear was mailed to her last known address (the family house in question). Party 1 never got the summons, never showed in court, and an arrest warrant was issued for failure to appear.

During the mediation, the attorney calls the Sheriffs’ dept to inquire about the active warrant, and to report party 1 participation/location of the mediation. As the mediator, I was just into the first caucus with party 1 when a knock came on the door. (I had just finished the opening statement with both parties and excused party 2 with council). The officer walks into the mediation, tells party 1 to “stand up” and proceeds to arrest her for the active warrant that she did not know was out there.

I asked the deputy if I could continue the mediation with party 1 if he was to remain, but he would be bound by the confidentiality rule. He was unwilling to both wait or be a party to the mediation. So what do I do?

Party 1 was accompanied by an older man who was there as a mentor (he was approx 60). I asked party 1 if she would give the man permission to negotiate on her behalf so we could continue with the mediation.. both she and he agreed.

I attempted to work out some sort of arrangement to collect the items that were still in the possession of party 2, and to come to some dollar figure to cover the damages to the furniture.

The attorney for party 2 was not happy that I was continuing the mediation, and refused to participate any longer. Upon leaving, the attorney said, “make sure you tell the judge that we appeared and attempted to negotiate in good faith”…

Mediation did not settle, but not for the sake of trying!

Just one of the more than 1000 cases that I have had in my career. Just a little food for thought…

Have a great day!



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