Mediators will tell you one of the key questions to ask before a mediation session is, “Who’s going to be there?”
It’s vitally important to have someone at the session who has the authority to settle the case, if the mediation is successful.
Judge Bill Ledbetter, who spent many years on the bench in Fredericksburg and who now works with The McCammon Group, presented a talk to the Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys on Saturday at VAELA’s annual Unprogram.
He noted that he was mediating a personal injury/car crash case involving a trucking company in Warrenton. All the parties, including the man who was head of the company, were at the table, and it didn’t involve insurance, so a carrier wasn’t part of the equation. Things progressed successfully and the case reached a resolution, ready for handshakes all around. Then the guy said, uh, wait a minute.
He had to call his wife.
Ledbetter said that she actually was the owner of the company and he had to get her OK. The case settled the next day, he said.
But it served as a cautionary tale for lawyers and mediators alike. Ledbetter concluded, “Know who has the power to settle.”