Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Settle Or Go Directly To Jail!

No – really – this actually happened! According to this article from WMBB-TV News and this article from WJHG-TV News, the creator of “Girls Gone Wild” was found in contempt by a Federal Court judge as a result of his conduct during mediation last month.

Attorneys for the Plaintiffs filed a motion asking for reimbursement of expenses they incurred while preparing for the mediation in which they say the Defendant was uncooperative. The Plaintiffs’ attorneys testified that the Defendant arrived late, barefoot, wearing a backwards ball cap and sweatpants and in the first 3 minutes of the mediation, began shouting obscenities at them. Their motion says “As the plaintiff’s attorneys were leaving, [the] threats escalated – i.e. “We will bury you and your clients!”

The judge found the Defendant in contempt of court for his actions and ordered him to either settle the case with the plaintiffs or surrender to U.S. Marshals by 5:30p.m. on a Friday evening. Later he was given an extension until Saturday at 5:00p.m. If both sides could not reach an agreement in the case by then the Defendant was to be held in the Bay County Jail until another mediation can be scheduled and completed.

All’s well that ends . . . . In today’s edition of WMBB-TV News, the Defendant was ordered to surrender at the Federal Courthouse by noon tomorrow because the judge found that the Defendant mislead the other side with an offer to settle which he later took back [imagine that!].

Among the learning objectives in mediation training is to identify appropriate techniques for handling difficult situations, e.g., a party walks out, a party makes personal attacks on another party or mediator, or a party is not really engaged in the mediation.

So, if you were the mediator in this case, what techniques would you employ?

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.