There really is such a thing as a free lunch! Well, sort of. In the case of Morgan v. Steiner, 2005 N.C. App. LEXIS 2105 [N.C. App. 2005], the parties participated in a mediation conference and did not reach a settlement. Steiner made an offer of judgment which Morgan rejected. The jury returned a verdict for Steiner. Under North Carolina’s rules of civil procedure, plaintiff must pay defendant’s costs if plaintiff rejects a settlement offer more than ten days before trial and the final judgment is less favorable than the offer. [This is like Florida’s offer of judgment – but, you knew that!] The trial judge awarded Steiner costs, including the costs of mediation. Morgan appealed. The North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld the award of mediation costs, but found that the trial court had erred in including the cost of lunch provided by Steiner at the mediation settlement conference because state statute did not specifically authorize an award for that cost.
And you thought I was kidding!
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