Jen-Weld v. San Diego Sup. Ct. (Cal. Ct. App. - Jan. 4, 2007)...shows a keen
understanding by Justice McIntyre of the realities of modern litigation, and is important
given the increasing outside references made by California trial courts.
The underlying lawsuit was a complex multiparty construction defect case. Judge Styn
wanted to get a lot of the lawsuit out of his court, as well as potentially resolved, so he
appointed both an outside discovery referee as well as an mediator/settlement
conference neutral, the latter to be paid for by the parties for a maximum of 100 hours
at $500/hour. No small piece of change.
One of the defendants, Jen-Weld, objected, arguing that mandatory mediation (and
some other stuff) was impermissible. Judge Styn disagreed, and when Jen-Weld refused
to participate in the mediation, Judge Styn imposed sanctions and ordered them to
attend. At which point Jen-Weld filed a writ.
The Court of Appeal granted the writ and reversed, holding that trial court's don't have
authority to order parties in a complex civil action to attend and pay for private
mediation. The opinion by Justice McIntyre is short (nine double-spaced pages), to the
point, and persuasive. This was also a great vehicle in which to find that mandatory
(party-paid) mediation was impermissible, as the costs of the mediation for Jen-Weld
would have swamped any alleged liability. Since plaintiff's settlement demand to
Jen-Weld was less than $2,800, you can easily see why it would be pretty crazy to make
Jen-Weld pay to mediate a case it has probably no intention of paying money to settle
and in which its mediation costs would exceed the existing settlement demand.
"While trial courts may try to cajole the parties in complex actions into stipulating to
private mediation (see Super. Ct. San Diego County, Local Rules, rule 2.3.7), they
cannot be forced or coerced over the threat of sanctions into attending and paying for
private mediation as this is antithetical to the entire concept of mediation."
|San Diego Education Report
04/18/14 08:30AM C-62 CV Styn,
Ronald L. Motion
Daniel R Shinoff
D)San Ysidro School
Daniel R Shinoff
Judge Styn likes to get rid of cases as fast as he can