Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Pick Up the Phone!

Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 1.720(b) provides for sanctions for failure to appear at a duly noticed mediation conference.

(b) Sanctions for Failure to Appear. If a party fails to appear at a duly noticed mediation conference without good cause, the court upon motion shall impose sanctions, including an award of mediator and attorneys' fees and other costs, against the party failing to appear. [Emphasis added.]

Has this ever happened to you? One side shows up at mediation and the other doesn’t – no prior warning. Lots of folks are not happy, to say the least. However, before the appearing party rushes to file sanctions, it’s at least worth making a phone call to the non-appearing attorney as was suggested by the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Giron v. Fairways of Sunrise Homeowners’ Association, Inc., 30 Fla. L. Weekly D 1426 [Fla. 4th DCA 2005]. Although it’s not a case involving mediation, the principle of professionalism is always applicable.

A good practice for the mediator would be to call the parties a day or more prior to the scheduled mediation to confirm everyone’s attendance [and, of course, to remind the parties to bring a check] – but, you knew that!! Right?!?

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