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California Court of Appeals Affirms Mediation Confidentiality

by Jan Frankel Schau

From Jan Schau's blog.

Jan Frankel Schau

The Court of Appeals (Second Circuit) issued it's opinion on the Wimsatt v. Kausch writ of mandate and upheld the mediation confidentiality statutes under California Evidence Code Sec. 1119. This was a proud moment for me, because I supported an amicus curiae brief (as President of the Southern California Mediation Association) and was present for the oral argument. In brief, the Plaintiff's were alleging that their own lawyer had committed malpractice by telling the defense counsel in an underlying airplane crash case that the case that he told his own clients was worth $3.5 million had a value closer to $1.5 million. The case was settled at a second mediation for about $1 million.
Now, the Plaintiff's wanted to compel the production of the defense counsel's mediation brief and some e-mail communications between the two lawyers that took place the day before the second session of the mediation. The trial court denied the motion for protective order, out of concern that the protection requested might very well shield the plaintiff's former lawyer from claims for perjury as well as breach of fiduciary duty. The Court of Appeal disagreed. They really understood that the policy favoring settlement through frank conversation in a mediation trumped the possible abuses offered to counsel where evidence was prepared for, or in the course of a mediation. The Court did note that this may be unwise or impracticable, leaving the door open for the Supreme Court to act more critically in the case now before them in Simmons v. Ghaderi. Tough decisions, but certainly nice to read in black and white that the Court of Appeals honors the legislative scheme, even against their most solid judgment, to foster mediation as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism that is meaningful and appreciated.

Biography


Attorney Jan Frankel Schau is a highly skilled neutral, engaged in full-time dispute resolution. Following a successful career spanning two decades in litigation, she has mediated over 700 cases for satisfied clients. Ms. Schau understands the nuances of trial and settlement practice as well as client relations and balancing the needs of their representatives with the risk and expenses of trial. Those who have used Ms. Schau’s services recognize excellence in her persistence, optimism, creativity and integrity.

Ms. Schau was the President of the Southern California Mediation Association in 2007 and is recognized as among the most outstanding mediators in Southern California in the mediation of civil disputes by her peers and clients. She also serves as a Trustee of the Board of Directors of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association, and has presided as Chair of it’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Section and Litigation Section. She holds a Certificate of Advanced Skills in Negotiation from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution of Pepperdine University as well as from the Western Law Center for Disability Rights at Loyola Law School.



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Website: www.schaumediation.com

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