Court-Appointed Neutral Ruled Immune From Suit by D.C. Court
Absolute quasi-judicial immunity extends to mediators and neutral case evaluators appointed by the court whose actions are taken within the scope of their official duties, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently held.
Jerome S. Wagshal sued the neutral appointed by the court when his real property lawsuit was referred to "neutral case evaluation" under the court's alternative dispute resolution program, in which participation was mandatory, but not binding. Wagshal questioned the neutrality of the case evaluator, Mark W. Foster, who later sought recusal. In a letter to the court, Foster stated that the case ''can and should be settled if the parties are willing to act reasonably" and urged the court to order Wagshal to engage in good faith mediation as a "pre-condition" to further proceedings. After another case evaluator was appointed, the real property case settled.