At the Very Least, Appear at Mediation, Court Reminds

Most recently, Lawrence Kolin  was named a Litigation Trailblazer and Pioneer™ by the National Law Journal for his innovative work in alternative dispute resolution practice. To schedule a mediation with Lawrence, please visit our online scheduling page or call his case manager, Cathy McCleary, at 800-863-1462.

Arbitrator / Mediator Lawrence H. Kolin "Orlando Mediator" Lawrence H. Kolin


In a recent opinion, the Fifth District Court of Appeal reminds participants and counsel how important it is to at least appear at mediation.

I've been a Supreme Court of Florida-Certified Appellate Mediator since 2001, so I took special notice when Florida's 5th DCA specifically stated that representatives of the parties with full settlement authority were required to attend a mediation in person, unless excused from attendance by the court. The court's order, referring a matter to appellate mediation, further stated that the failure to appear could result in the imposition of sanctions.

As the mediation began, no representative appeared for the appellant, although an insurance company representative was present. The appellant also provided no certification of full authority to settle. Appellees objected to the absence of appellant's representative and to the limited authority of the insurance company representative. The mediation proceeded without a waiver of objections, resulting in an impasse.

If a party fails to appear at a duly noticed mediation conference without good cause, the court, upon motion of a party or upon its own motion, may impose sanctions, as provided by Rule 9.720 of the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. I helped to amend that rule as a corollary of civil procedure rule 1.720, and it governs appellate mediation procedures.

Sanctions in this case included all fees charged by the mediator, all reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred in preparing for and attending the mediation, as well as the costs incurred in filing a motion for sanctions. The court reserved the right to impose additional sanctions, including dismissal of the appeal or the assessment of additional attorney's fees and costs.

For more details and the court's legal references, please read my "Orlando Mediator" blog post at http://orlandomediator.blogspot.com/2016/01/appellate-mediation-sanctions-for-non.html.

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