Monday, August 01, 2005

Warning: Mediation Notes Alone Do Not Constitute An Agreement, But . . . !

In Borck v. Borck, 2005 Fla. App. LEXIS 11049 [Fla. 4th DCA 2005] involving competing petitions for the appointment of a guardian, the trial court ordered the intended ward’s family members and other entities to produce financial information and tax returns. The order was based solely on handwritten mediation notes [it’s not clear from the opinion whose notes they were]. The order was entered without an evidentiary hearing as to the scope of the “agreement” and was based on the notes and one attorney’s representation of the “agreement”. The Fourth District Court of Appeal quashed the trial judge’s order without prejudice to the court holding an evidentiary hearing.

The subtle [well, maybe not so subtle] implication here, however, is that mediation notes coupled with appropriate testimony may rise to the level of an enforceable agreement. Any thoughts on how this might affect your note-taking?

So, what do you do with your mediator notes? Okay, what do you do with, or say about, the notes of the mediation participants, if anything? Good luck, by the way, in trying to collect the notes of the mediation participants! I am not, repeat not, suggesting you place yourself in harm’s way. By the way, there is no mention in the opinion about confidentiality [this is a hint].

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