Party Sanctioned, but not Counsel, for Party's Failure to Attend Mediation (Web)

Harrelson v. Hensley: Where party failed to attend court-ordered mediation, sanctions were proper against the party, but not against his counsel.  Counsel did not encourage or otherwise participate in party’s decision not to attend the mediation. 
 
Party Sanctioned, but not Counsel, for Party’s Failure to Attend Mediation
 
            The District Court of Appeal of Florida issued sanctions against a party, but not against her attorney, after the party failed to show up for a court-ordered appellate mediation. The court had ordered that “parties with full settlement authority…are required to attend [the] mediation in person unless excused by the court.”  Harrelson v. Hensley, 2005 WL 176608, at *1.
 
            On the morning of the mediation, Harrelson’s counsel alerted Hensley’s attorney that Harrelson would not attend the mediation conference.  The mediation went forward without Harrelson, but with her attorney.  The mediation failed.  In explaining her absence, Harrelson stated that she “has been so disturbed by the obnoxious conduct of Hensley’s counsel that she has become uncommunicative and willing only to allow counsel to continue to pursue her interest in this matter without her active involvement.” Id. at *1.
 
            On January 28th, 2005, Judge Palmer of the Fifth Division ordered the sanctions against Harrelson.  For her failure to attend the mediation, Harrelson was ordered to pay all fees charged by the mediator, the other party’s attorney fees and costs incurred in preparing for and attending the mediation, and $500 to the clerk of the court.
 
            The motion for sanctions against Harrelson’s attorney failed because counsel did not “encourage[] or otherwise participate[] in Harrelson’s decision not to attend the court-ordered mediation.”
 
            The order and opinion are available at 2005 WL 176608.  If can also be found on the Fifth District’s website, http://www.5dca.org/Opinions/OpinionFrameset.htm.
 
 
Keywords: Mediation, Advocacy in ADR, State ADR, Court ADR