Adding to the collective knowledge regarding the Michigan civil litigation process.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Case Evaluation Explained
Case evaluation is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process that is often scheduled in a case after a matter proceeds through discovery. It is conducted before a panel of 3 lawyers, each of whom (at least in concept) play a specific role. One lawyer has a plaintiff orientation, one has a defense orientation, and one is a neutral attorney.
The process involves attorneys for the parties submitting summaries two weeks before the proceeding. These are intended to inform and persuade the panel as to the merits of the party's position in the case.
At the appointed time, attorneys for each of the parties appear before the panel and briefly present their case. The process is informal with give and take between the panel and the attorneys. After both sides give their presentation, the panel usually meets individually with each lawyer to try and determine what each party expects in order to settle the case. Thereafter, the panel issues an award which will be phrased as a dollar amount in favor of the plaintiff.
After an award is issued, the parties have 28 days to either accept or reject the award. If both parties accept, the plaintiff is entitled to a judgment for the amount of the award. If either party rejects the award, the case does not resolve and instead heads to trial.
There are built in incentives to accept a case evaluation award. A party that rejects a case evaluation award must do 10% better at trial or be subject to potential sanctions. The sanctions are the opposing party's legal fees incurred after the rejection. An example explains this best. Suppose an award is $100,000 and the plaintiff rejects the award. In that situation, the plaintiff would have to recover more than $110,000 at trial or be subject to the sanction.
DISCLAIMER-- Michigan Legal Intelligence is authored by W. Jay Brown, a Midland Michigan based civil litigation attorney. The foregoing is intended to be for general information purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between W. Jay Brown PLC and you. Individuals with legal issues are advised to consult an attorney of your own choosing for advice specific to your situation.