In both Missouri state and federal court, the parties are ordered to mediate their claims before they go to trial. In the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, the mediation takes place pretty early on in the process. If a lawsuit was filed in state court – for instance – Jackson County, Missouri, the parties are ordered to mediate pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 17. Mediation shall be completed within ten months after the date the case was filed for complex cases and six months after the date the case is filed for other circuit cases, unless ordered by the court. Most personal injury cases would thus have to be completed within six months of the filing date.
Before the mediation takes place, both parties usually submit a confidential letter to the mediator (who usually is a trained legal professional or judge). The parties usually agree to who the mediator should be for that particular case as some mediators are better at handling certain cases than others. At the mediation, both sides are required to have someone there with settlement authority. Most of the time, courts require that the person attend the mediation in person, rather than attend via phone.
The purpose of the mediation is to get a deal done saving both sides money of expensive litigation. The mediator will do his or her best to try to get a deal struck between the sides. Sometimes this is talking about the particular case with each side and discussing both sides the weaknesses and strengths of their case. The mediation usually takes at least a half of day but sometimes the entire day. Everything that is said at the mediation will remain confidential. If the case gets settled at the mediation that means that usually both sides will not get everything they want as both will have to make concessions to get a deal done. Mediation is a good time for the parties to take a deep look at their case (the pluses and minuses) and see if a deal can be done before you put things in the court and jury’s hands.
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