Tuesday, August 29, 2006

“Food, Glorious Food!”

I wonder if Judge Pendelton Gaines of the Superior Court of Arizona, Maricopa County was humming the song “Food, Glorious Food” from Lionel Bart’s musical “Oliver!”, an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic, “Oliver Twist,” as he penned this decision granting Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Acceptance of Lunch Invitation [really, I am not making this up!].

Here’s what happened. Plaintiff’s counsel extended a lunch invitation to Defendant’s counsel “to have a discussion regarding discovery and other matters.” Plaintiff’s counsel offered to “pay for lunch.” Defendant’s counsel failed to respond until the motion was filed [imagine that!]. Defendant’s counsel distrusted Plaintiff’s counsel’s motives and feared that Plaintiff’s counsel’s purpose is to persuade Defendant’s counsel of the lack of merit in the defense case.

I think you’ll find the judge’s ground rules creatively entertaining [even absent rock, paper, scissors]!

By the way, what’s the proper course of action for a mediator to follow if one of the lawyers during mediation lunch time offers to pay for the mediator’s lunch? Take a look at Florida’s Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators, Rule 10.330(c), Impartiality, Gifts and Solicitation which provides:

A mediator shall neither give nor accept a gift, favor, loan, or other item of value in any mediation process. During the mediation process, a mediator shall not solicit or otherwise attempt to procure future professional services.

But [and you know what that means!] be sure to read the Committee Note.

What about the mediator paying for the participants’ lunches? Take a look at Mediator Ethics Advisory Committee Opinion 2001-006.

Hmmm!?!?! What about no lunch?!?

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