Responding When the Other Side Doesn’t Have Settlement Authority Chapter 26
Jeffrey Krivis mediates complex employment, catastrophic injury and insurance cases at his Encino, Calif.-based firm, First Mediation Corp. See www.firstmediation.com. He teaches at the Pepperdine Law School/Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution and is former chairman of the ABA Technology Committee, and is a member of Altenatives’ editorial board.
You have now paid $1000 for the privilege of participating in a mediation of a catastrophic injury case. You have your client worked up over the prospect of settlement, and you have the right mediator to do it for you.
But when you sit down for the joint session, you notice that the person attending from the insurance company is not the same person you spoke to before suit was filed. In fact, the person across the table looks like he is right out of adjusters’ college. You are mildly concerned, but you figure that the other side wouldn’t be at the table unless it planned to settle, and decide to go forward with the thought that you might discuss this with the mediator.
As you get into the session, the mediator asks you how much you would like to demand. Recognizing that you are here to settle, you put a reasonable number on the table, expecting a similar response from the insurer. A few minutes later the mediator comes back and starts talking to you about everything under the sun except the number you issued. You begin to worry that the adjuster might not have the ability to make a decision.
You then ask the mediator what the defense is willing to offer. The mediator deflects the question, saying something about the other side still analyzing the case before it makes an offer.