Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Do I Have To File A Civil Lawsuit To Go To Mediation?

Answer: No.

In civil disputes, (including Employment, Property, Neighbor or Contract disputes), a good course of action may start with a letter suggesting mediation of the dispute to avoid a lawsuit for everyone involved.

If you can avoid filing a lawsuit in the first place, you have already saved the $335 court filing fee and the attorney time to draft the complaint. And the defendant has already avoided paying his $335 to file an Answer to the Complaint and paying his attorney to draft the Answer (This assumes the attorneys are working by the hour only and have not required a larger retainer to handle the case, which would be more typical.)

The disputing parties could use just that case-start up money (total filing costs $670 + total attorney's fees $1,800= $2,470) to pay for a full 8 hours of a mediator's time to help resolve the case that day instead of going through many more thousands of dollars for attorneys' fees and costs and months (and sometimes years) of depositions, court hearings, trials and appeals to get the dispute resolved.

When you consider the additional issues of the uncertainty of the outcome in litigation as well as quality of life in experiencing anxiety over the ongoing unresolved dispute and ongoing litigation if the case proceeds as a lawsuit, it seems only logical to try mediation first. And maybe second too. And litigation comes in a very distant last.

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