My case has been assigned for mediation. What does that mean and do I need to bring a witness?
Mediation is a means of attempting to resolve a legal dispute outside of the courtroom. Generally, the parties will meet and a mediator will attempt to resolve the dispute between them. The mediator is not a judge and not in the position of a judge so the mediator will not be deciding your case. The mediator will give both sides an opportunity to present their side of the case but will do so only to obtain some background information and to allow the parties to vent their pent-up frustrations about the legal dispute. Parties often mistake the opportunity to talk about their case as a chance to discredit the other side and prove their case. Unfortunately, that is not the purpose of mediation because (as I previously stated above) the mediator is not deciding the case. The mediator is only trying to get the parties to reach a mutually agreeable resolution.
Because the mediator is not deciding the case, there is no need to bring witnesses. You will not need supporting testimony of witnesses. A mediation is not a trial or hearing. You would bring witnesses to a trial or hearing to help prove your case.
Should I bring documentation supporting my case to mediation?
You are free to bring documentation supporting your case. The mediator may or may not look at it. The mediator’s role is simply to facilitate a resolution and not decide your case. Since resolving the case often means accepting or paying money, documentation concerning what the other side owes you is helpful. For example, in a landlord tenant case, the landlord should bring a ledger showing what the tenant owes and any supporting invoices or bills. A ledger is a written itemization of what the tenant owes over a period of time. The ledger should be easy to understand; the mediator and the tenant should be able to look at the ledger and quickly determine what is owed. Hopefully, the landlord has presented this itemization before the mediation so the tenant cannot say that he/she never received or has never seen that itemization before.
Must I attend the mediation?
Oftentimes, the judge has ordered that the parties attend mediation so it is generally mandatory that you attend mediation. Some judges will assign the case to mediation a second time if one party does not attend the first mediation. Also, if you fail to attend the mediation, it is generally impossible to work out a resolution to the matter.
If an agreement is reached, how will it be enforced?
If the parties reach a resolution to the matter, the mediator will reduce that agreement to writing and all parties will sign the document. If the parties agree that the tenant will pay the landlord $5000.00 then the agreement will reflect this. The parties have the option to hold the case open until the tenant meets his/her obligations under the agreement. The parties could also have the court enter judgment against the tenant for the agreed upon amount. If the tenant fails to honor the agreement, the landlord can resort to traditional collection measures to enforce the agreement such as wage garnishment.
Where will the mediation take place?
In Franklin County, mediation generally takes place at the Franklin County Municipal Court, 375 S. High Street, 16th Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215.
How do I prepare for mediation?
If you are seeking damages against the other party, a good place to start would be to create an itemization of everything that is owed. Bring enough copies of the itemization to share with the mediator and the other side. The itemization should be clear and allow anyone looking at it to understand exactly what is owed and why.
Most people make the mistake of going into mediation and asking for everything that is owed to them. The other side has no incentive to pay full freight as that is the worst case scenario. They might as well take their chances on the outcome of the trial unless litigation expenses are too costly.
You should go into mediation with an opening offer and you should also know what your absolute bottom line is to resolve the matter. You can probably anticipate the other side’s response to your initial offer and determine where to go from there in advance of the mediation.
Where can I find more information on the mediation process?
You can find more information on the mediation process here.