Monday, March 25, 2024

Join us 4/2 for a Free Risk Assessment CLE/CME

Join me and my old friend and new UWWM colleague, Frank Bedell, for a free CLE Webinar at noon ET on Apri 2, 2024. We will explore a foundational understanding of risk assessments. The risk assessment is not about numerical accuracy. It is about reducing a complex claim environment to an easily understandable frame of reference so the client has a clear understanding of where they sit and the relative risk environment (understanding the litigation process and options for resolution). This includes finding agreement on the core claims, defenses, and issues, enough to make an informed valuation of the case. In the end, the objective of the risk assessment is alignment between client and counsel so a path forward can be responsibly outlined – and reevaluated as developments occur. We intend to offer some ideas in the problem-solving role of mediation and to encourage some innovation in the daily approach of settling lawsuits. This complimentary CLE is approved by the Florida Bar for 1.0 hour of general CLE credit. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Register here--

Friday, March 22, 2024

ADR Rules & Policy Approves Language

This week, the Florida Supreme Court's ADR Rules and Policy Committee approved in its response regarding rule amendments (by a vote of 16 to 0) my suggested change submitted through the ADR Section Executive Council comment regarding revisions to Rule 10.340(d)(2) on conflicts of interest as follows: “(2) the mediator previously provided services (other than mediation services) for, or represented one or more of the mediation participants in, the matters current case or dispute at issue in the mediation; or…" The ADR Rules and Policy Committee found this narrows the scope of the proposed language. They agree since this provision addresses “clear” conflicts of interest, which are not waivable, the scope should only be broad enough to address the harm to be avoided. The Committee’s language, “matters at issue in the mediation,” is broader than my suggested language. The broader scope would require a mediator to decline serving as a mediator even if the potentially conflicting interests are not directly related to the case or dispute being mediated. For non-waivable conflicts of interest, a narrower scope may be preferable in order to ensure that parties have the widest latitude in selecting a mediator, while still ensuring mediator impartiality. Therefore, the Committee supported narrowing the scope through alternate language and has asked the court to adopt it and other changes pending a decision to grant oral argument. See more here--

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Nonsignatory Attorneys Bound by Settlement Agreement?

In a recent decision out of Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeal on cases 4D2022-3194 and 4D2022-3438, an attorney that did not enter an appearance, nor sign either settlement agreement at issue, authored a blog post commenting about the outcome of the underlying litigation and remarking negatively about one of the parties. The trial court hearing a claim for breach of contract then reasoned that the lawyer was bound by the settlement agreements' plain language, recognizing that Florida law does not require a signature as a prerequisite to be bound by a contract. The trial court also found that the blogging lawyer's undisputed conduct breached the settlement agreements' applicable confidentiality and non-dissemination provisions. On appeal, the sole issue as defined by the appellate court was a narrow one: whether the nonsignatory attorney to the settlement agreements that his clients signed, is bound by the settlement agreements because they include provisions purporting to bind the lawyer specifically by name or by his role as "counsel" or "attorney." The 4th DCA answered this question in the negative from a purely contractual standpoint. While it may be true that the lawyer negotiated the settlement agreements, transmitted them to his clients for their signatures, returned the settlement agreements to the attorney representing them in court, and benefited from the settlement agreements, these are customary actions performed by attorneys. Because the blogging lawyer did not sign the settlement agreements, is not named as a party, and did not manifest consent to be bound, the appeals court found that he is not bound, and the trial court erred by granting summary judgment in favor in the breach of contract lawsuit. See more here-- and