Sunday, August 20, 2006

“But, You Shouldn’t Have Done That! Pay The Mediator Anyway!”

The appellant in Areizaga v. Board of County Commissioners of Hillsborough County, et al., 2006 Fla. App. LEXIS 13672 [Fla. 2nd DCA 2006] failed to appear at a court ordered mediation [actually, an oral court order not reduced to writing – not that it made a difference here]. The trial judge ordered him to pay the bill of the mediator [a very good move!] as a sanction.

Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.720(b) allows the court to impose the sanction of payment of the mediator’s bill when a party fails to appear for a scheduled mediation without good cause. Among appellant’s defenses were the lack of a written order [not so fast held the Second District Court of Appeal!] and that the County failed to coordinate the date and time of mediation with him [the evidence showed otherwise – but, in any event, what’s the mediator’s coordination responsibility, if any?]

Appellant also argued that in light of Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.710(b), which prohibits mediation of extraordinary writs, mediation should never have been ordered. Yes, agreed the appellate court, but [and you know what that means!] appellant should not have ignored the court order and should have brought the issue to the attention of the trial court before the mediation – not afterward.

All to say, ultimately the order to mediate the extraordinary writ was quashed and appellant still had to pay the mediator [another very good move on a higher judicial level – Yessss!].

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.