Tuesday, November 15, 2005

“I Didn’t Know What I Was Doing; Don’t Enforce the Agreement!”

Florida Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators, Rule 10.420, Conduct of Mediation ; (b) Adjournment or Termination provides, in part, that:

A mediator shall:

(2) adjourn or terminate any mediation which, if continued, would result in unreasonable emotional or monetary costs to the parties;

(3) adjourn or terminate the mediation if the mediator believes the case is unsuitable for mediation or any party is unable or unwilling to participate meaningfully in the process;

(4) terminate a mediation entailing fraud, duress, the absence of bargaining ability, or unconscionability; and . . . . [Emphasis added.]

Mediators sure have a lot to think about!

What do you think of these circumstances in light of the above rule? After a full day of mediation, a party who was also an attorney [represented by counsel], reached a settlement agreement which was signed by all parties and their counsel. Immediately following the mediation, the attorney-party drove himself to a hospital where he was admitted and diagnosed with a ruptured cerebral aneurysm, sub-arachnoid hemorrhage, and stroke. He underwent surgery the next day and was placed in the intensive care unit for approximately one month prior to his eventual discharge from the hospital. He claims to have no recollection of the events preceding his hospitalization.

He resisted a motion to enforce the agreement and sought rescission on the ground that he was not mentally competent to enter into a contract at the time the agreement was negotiated and signed. The court in In Re: Raines v. Flinn, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 24025 [Cir. 9th 2005] affirmed the order enforcing the agreement. Whaaat?!? Well, you’ll have to read part of the opinion to find out why.

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