Monday, September 11, 2006

Nerf Mediation?

Whaaat?!? According to this article in the Wisconsin State Journal some mediators in Wisconsin let clients shoot each other with foam-rubber Nerf weapons as a form of venting. Is this a good idea?

Florida’s Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators, Rule 10.420(b), Conduct of Mediation, Adjournment or Termination provides that a mediator shall [no wiggle room here]

(5) terminate any mediation if the physical safety of any person is endangered by the continuation of mediation.

The Nerf N-Strike Maverick Blaster comes with this warning: “CAUTION: Do not aim at eyes or face. To avoid injury, use only darts designed for this product. Do not modify darts or dart blaster.”

In 2002 during a court–ordered probate mediation, a brother shot his sister to death in front of his wife, an attorney–mediator and the attorneys for the two sides. He fled the office and then killed himself, according to police reports. This article in New York Lawyer [registration required] points out that the shooting in the conference room of a Boca Raton law firm has led to a premises liability lawsuit against the firm that could have important ramifications for attorney–client privilege in Florida [what about mediator’s premises liability had this occurred in a mediator’s office?]. You can read about the privilege aspect of the case in Hodgson Russ LLP v. Trube, et al., 867 So. 2d 1246 [Fla. 4th DCA 2004]. Note that although the opinion refers to a scheduled deposition, it was actually a mediation conference.

Would you consider using Nerf weapons in mediation in Florida? I don’t think so! There are better [and safer] ways for parties to vent; but, you knew that!

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