A. Pre-Settlement Conference Exchange of Demand and Offer
After a telephonic preliminary settlement discussion, the court will issue a scheduling order requiring the parties to exchange their settlement demand and offer. Plaintiff’s counsel must submit a position statement to defendant’s counsel describing the nature of the action, the theory of liability, itemization of damages, and plaintiff’s demand, including an explanation for the demand. Defendant’s counsel must submit a position statement to plaintiff’s counsel describing the theory of defense and defendant’s settlement offer, including an explanation for the offer. The parties will be required to submit their statements to the court by hand delivery, by mail, or by e-mail (email@example.com). If the statements and exhibits are more than 10 pages, they must be hand-delivered or mailed. The parties should invest sufficient time and effort when preparing their statements because the court finds that well-prepared and detailed settlement position statements are critical to having productive settlement discussions. These statements are not to be filed with the Clerk’s Office, will not be made part of the court’s record, and will not be admissible as evidence.
B. Persons Required to Attend
Individuals with full and complete settlement authority on behalf of the parties are ordered to personally attend the conference. An insured party shall appear by a representative of the insurer who is authorized to negotiate and who has authority to settle the case. An uninsured corporate party shall appear by a representative authorized to negotiate and who has authority to settle the case. Having a client or representative with authority available by telephone is not an acceptable alternative, except under the most extenuating circumstances. Because the court generally sets aside at least four hours for each conference, it is impossible for a party who is not present to appreciate the process and the reasons which may justify a change in one’s perspective towards settlement. Failure to comply with this provision without good cause will result in an order requiring the party in violation to reimburse the opposing party’s attorney fees and costs related to appearing for the settlement conference.
C. Conference Format
The court will first hold a joint session with opening presentations by the court and by each party. This joint session will then be followed by each party having a private caucus with the court. The court expects both the lawyers and the party representatives to be fully prepared to participate openly during these discussions. Statements made by any party during the settlement conference are not to be used in discovery and will not be admissible at trial.
If the parties are successful in reaching an agreement, they will be required to detail the terms of the agreement on the record in court at the conclusion of the conference so that the terms detailed are binding on the parties. If the parties require the terms of the agreement to be kept confidential, the court will seal the proceeding so that only the attorneys of record will have access to the transcript of the proceeding.