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Personal Injury: Late Case Mediation

Issue

In an automobile injury case involving allegations of an improperly designed, constructed, and maintained parking garage, how did the injured plaintiff and the garage’s owner, general contractor, subcontractors, and architects settle their differences efficiently and privately using facilitative mediation?

What Happened?

While riding as a passenger in a vehicle, the plaintiff suffered disabling injuries alleged to have resulted from design and building defects in the parking garage where the incident took place.  After filing a lawsuit against the owner of the garage, general contractor, subcontractors, and architects, the parties engaged in extensive discovery.  Although the defendants conceded that there was a problem with the condition of the garage, they were unable to agree on who was responsible, and also questioned the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries and whether they were pre-existing or aggravated by the incident.

Special Considerations

  • The defendants did not want to take the case to trial because they did not want to be bound by any judgments that would bind them to redesigning and rebuilding the garage, nor did they want to incur the significant expense of a possible trial and appeal.
  • During the discovery process, employees from each of the defendants testified critically about the other defendants, giving the plaintiff substantial ammunition against them all.
  • The defendants would only agree to submit the case to mediation with the provision that any settlement 1) be confidential because of pending and anticipated future claims by others similarly injured, and 2) would not be an admission of liability for purposes of redesigning and repairing the alleged building/design defect.
  • The plaintiff wanted to resolve the case at mediation to avoid the time, expense and, risks associated with a trial against multiple defendants.

How Did PREMi Help?

After the parties contacted PREMi and reviewed a list of qualified professionals, the selected mediator:

  • Submitted a mediation agreement, with a confidentiality provision, for all parties to review and execute prior to the start of the mediation conference
  • Expedited the process by having the parties agree to waive opening remarks (given that the facts were well known from previously completed investigation and discovery) and moving on to a joint opening session
  • Met with each party individually, and kept discussions confidential until he was satisfied that the case could be resolved by disclosing the state of negotiations
  • Brokered a meaningful resolution when it was clear to everyone presentthat the advantages of making a final concession to settle the case significantly outweighed the risk of continuing the litigation

What Was the Outcome?

With guidance from the PREMi mediator:

  • The parties committed to a confidential settlement agreement and signed a memorandum of understanding calling for them to draft and agree upon a finalsettlement document, releases of the defendants, and a stipulation and order dismissing the pending court case with prejudice and without costs
  • The defendants agreed to pay the plaintiff’s share of the mediator’s fees and expenses

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Disclaimer: This summary is illustrative of the types of cases and the manner in which the PREMI associate dealt with the matter. Care has been taken to avoid disclosure of sensitive or confidential information.