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   Buckley v. Shealy, 635 S.E.2d 76 (S.C. 2006) (affirming decision not to enforce mediated divorce settlement last seen at the mediator's office in 1997, where it is unclear what happened to the signed agreement, and the family court never entered a signed copy of the agreement in the record).

Buckley video

   Catamount Slate Products, Inc. v. Sheldon, 845 A.2d 324 (Vt. 2003) (reversing trial court and refusing to enforce alleged oral mediated settlement where intent of the parties to be bound was not established in light of: 1) an unsigned agreement to mediate discussed orally with the parties which expressly stated that mediation would not be "binding upon either party unless reduced to a final agreement of settlement"; 2) post-mediation letters implying that settlement was not final; and 3) evidence suggesting that material elements of a global settlement remained to be negotiated after conclusion of mediation):

Quote from the Court: "[I]n their brief appellants encourage us to hold that a signed writing be required to bind parties to a mediated settlement even when there is no precondition of an intent not to be bound until execution of a final written document. We expressly decline to do so. As we reiterated here, parties to a mediated settlement are free to enter into a binding oral contract without memorializing their agreement in a fully executed document, even if they intend to subsequently reduce their agreement to writing. But, when parties communicate an intent not to be bound until they have achieved a final executed settlement agreement, oral agreements and draft provisions created during and after mediation will not alone constitute the formation of a binding contract."

Catamount video

  Chesney v. Hypertension Diagnostics, Inc., A05-2210, 2006 WL 2256590 (Minn. App. Aug. 8, 2006) (affirming trial court conclusion that mediated memorandum agreement is binding and enforceable despite parties' failure to complete a more comprehensive settlement document, where the memorandum agreement included Civil Mediation Act advisories and specifically noted the parties' intent not to have their settlement be dependent on the subsequent, more comprehensive, settlement document).

Chesney video

  Estate of Barber v. Guilford County Sheriff's Department, 589 S.E.2d 433 (N.C. App. 2003) (1. A plaintiff's obligation not to defame a wrongful death action defendant is not unenforceable as a prior restraint on speech, where record showed the mediated agreement was based on a knowing, voluntarily and intelligent waiver of constitutionally protected rights; 2. A trial court is without authority to sanction a party for violation of a mediated settlement, because sanctioning power only extends to violation of mediation rules themselves, such as attendance; and 3. [O]nce a defendant voluntarily dismisses claims with prejudice as part of a mediated settlement, the court is without power to enforce the settlement absent defendant's motion to withdraw the voluntary dismissal or the bringing of a new court action based on breach of contract).

Estate of Barber video

  Fair v. Bakhtiari, 19 Cal.Rptr.3d 591 (Cal. Ct. App. 2004) (reversing trial court refusal to enforce mediated settlement and compel arbitration pursuant to its terms because inclusion of the arbitration provision in the settlement was "consistent solely with an intention on the part of the parties for the settlement terms document to be enforceable or binding," thereby making the settlement admissible based on a statutory exception to inadmissibility where an "agreement provides that it is enforceable or binding or words to that effect")(emphasis added), review granted, 104 P.3d 98, 23 Cal.Rptr.3d 295 (Cal. Jan. 12, 2005).

Fair video

  Fivecoat v. Publix Super Markets, Inc., 928 So.2d 402 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. April 11, 2006) (reversing order enforcing mediated workers' compensation settlement, where claimant's attorney did not have clear and unequivocal authority to settle on claimant's behalf).

Fivecoat video

  Guthrie v. Guthrie, 594 S.E.2d 356 (Ga. 2004) (affirming that trial court acted erroneously in granting summary judgment denying enforcement of mediated divorce settlement agreement under rules utilized to resolve whether to incorporate a settlement agreement into a final divorce judgment, where husband died during pendency of divorce proceedings but the parties' agreement contained provisions that were to take effect immediately or shortly after the date the agreement was executed indicating it was not contingent upon issuance of a divorce judgment and in such cases enforcement is evaluated under ordinary rules of contract construction). Note: The decision implicitly affirmed the additional conclusion of the Court of Appeals that summary judgment in favor of enforcement also was inappropriate where allegations of capacity to contract -- specifically that a party "had suffered anxiety attacks, had consumed at least four doses of Valium, and was bereft of energy and mental concentration" -- raised jury questions about whether there was a meeting of the minds sufficient to create a contract). See Guthrie v. Guthrie, 577 S.E.2d 832 (Ga. App. 2003).

 Guthrie video

  Heaven & Earth, Inc. v. Wyman Properties Limited Partnership, No. Civ. 03-3327, 2004 WL 2931347 (D. Minn., November 4, 2004) (enforcing handwritten mediated settlement of lease extension by night club against challenge that parties' failure to reach full agreement on limitations and notice requirements for sound checks was a missing essential element that precluded enforcement).

Heaven video

  In re O.R. v. J.R., No. E034376, 2004 WL 585583 (Cal. App. Mar. 25, 2004) (affirming a visitation order based on the parties' mediated agreement despite fact that father called the mediator and had the agreement reached in mediation changed without the mother's knowledge or consent, determining that the mother's claims of extrinsic fraud and mistake lacked merit because she would have discovered the change if she had chosen to carefully review the agreement before it was signed and subsequently approved by the court).

In re O.R. video

  In re Rains, 428 F.3d 893 (9th Cir. 2005) (concluding that bankruptcy court did not clearly err in finding a debtor mentally competent to enter into a mediated settlement, where witnesses to the day-long mediation testified that the debtor "participated actively and appeared to have full understanding of what was transpiring and of the terms of the settlement", notwithstanding that immediately following the conclusion of mediation the debtor drove himself to the hospital where he was admitted and diagnosed with a cerebral aneurysm and stroke and his treating physician and psychologist opined that a person with his diagnosis would not have had mental capacity to conduct business affairs).

 In re Rains video

  In re Terrence, 833 N.E.2d 206 (Ohio Ct. App. 2005) (reversing termination of mother's parental rights based on mediated settlement conducted by telephone during mother's incarceration, where record failed to show clear consent and waiver of rights).

Quote from the Court: "Mediating with the government, which has far more resources than an individual, must be carefully scrutinized, as the parties come with unequal bargaining positions. Here, "[t]he mother had nothing real to gain and everything to lose. [The government agency] had everything to gain and nothing to lose. Mediation is more beneficial to the state, as consent is more efficient than trial."

In re Terrence video

  Kakani v. Oracle Corp., No. C 06-06493 WHA, 2007 WL 1793774 (N.D. Cal., June 19, 2007) (denying joint motion to preliminarily approve proposed class action settlement and specifically rejecting assertion that involvement of a mediator helps prove lack of collusion).

Quote from the Court: "It is also no answer to say that a private mediator helped frame the proposal. Such a mediator is paid to help the immediate parties reach a deal. Mediators do not adjudicate the merits. They are masters in the art of what is negotiable. It matters little to the mediator whether a deal is collusive as long as a deal is reached. Such a mediator has no fiduciary duty to anyone, much less those not at the table. Plaintiffs' counsel has the fiduciary duty. It cannot be delegated to a private mediator."

Kakani video

  Ledbetter v. Ledbetter, 163 S.W.3d 681 (Tenn. 2005) (refusing to enforce divorce settlement orally dictated by mediator and affirmed by parties and their counsel at mediation, which was later repudiated by one of the parties and never reduced to writing and presented to the court for approval).

Ledbetter video

  Lee v. Lee, 158 S.W.3d 612 (Tex. Ct. App. 2005) (concluding that divorce settlement negotiated directly by the parties could not be considered an irrevocable mediated settlement because the parties reached agreement without the assistance of a mediator).

Lee video

  McDermott v. City of North Olmsted, Ohio, 178 Fed.Appx. 515 (6th Cir. April 27, 2006) (affirming enforcement of mediated settlement of ADEA claims, concluding that plaintiff employee had reasonable period of time to consider the settlement even though he was forced to sign at the mediation session itself, by virtue of the parties' prior six-weeks of negotiations, involving three revised versions of the written agreement (the last of which had been first presented to plaintiff for consideration 12 days before mediation).

McDermott video

  Ryles v. Palace Hotel, No. C 04-5326 SBA, 2006 WL 3093678 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 27, 2006) (denying employer's motion to enforce a mediated employment discrimination settlement, where totality of the evidence established a coercive atmosphere around the execution of the settlement, including specifically that plaintiff was advised by her own attorney that "she would have to pay $10,000 and would lose her home if she did not settle the case" and that she would not get a fair trial because the court is unsympathetic to employment plaintiffs).

Quote from the Court: "Where Plaintiff was misled about whether she would be given a fair hearing, and threatened with the loss of her home and other serious financial consequences, this Court cannot conclude that the atmosphere was noncoercive. Defendant's frustration is understand- able, given that a good deal of effort went into reaching this settlement. However, the Court is obligated to examine the circumstances surrounding execution of this [Title VII] agreement more closely than it would an ordinary contract."

Ryles video

  Vitakis v. Valchine, 793 So. 2d 1094 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2001) (remanding to trial court for consideration of wife's allegation that mediator committed misconduct by improperly influencing her and coercing her into agreement, noting an exception to the general rule that coercion and duress by a third party is insufficient to invalidate an agreement between principals).

Quote From The Court: "During a court-ordered mediation, the mediator is no ordinary third party, but is, for all intent and purposes, an agent of the court carrying out an official court-ordered function. We hold that the court may invoke its inherent power to maintain the integrity of the judicial system and its processes by invalidating a court-ordered mediation settlement agreement obtained through violation and abuse of the judicially-prescribed mediation procedures." 793 So.2d at 1099.

Vitakis video

  Zimmerman v. Zimmerman, No. 04-04-00347-CV, 2005 WL 1812613 (Tex. App. Aug. 3, 2005) (affirming enforcement of mediated divorce settlement against allegation of mediator coercion, where the only evidence presented in support of the claim was the party's -perceptions of the mediator and how the mediator made him feel - evidence the trial court stated on the record it did not find credible).

Zimmerman video