In 1990, a California appellate court held that “absolute quasi-judicial immunity is properly extended to neutral third persons who are engaged in mediation, conciliation, evaluation or similar dispute resolution efforts.” Howard v. Drapkin (1990) 222 Cal. App. 3d 843, 851-860.( 222_cal__app__3d_843)
Recently, California Assembly Member James T. Beall, Jr. introduced AB 2475 (ab_2475 ) which would abolish such quasi-judicial immunity not only in all court ordered mediations but in those held privately, as well, It is rumored that the genesis of this draft legislation was a family law matter that went awry. That is, as rumor has it, a family law evaluator (not a mediator) submitted substantive written recommendations to the court which adopted them. The consequences were disastrous for the family who sued the evaluator but lost due to this quasi-judicial immunity.
In an attempt to correct the “problem,” Assembly Member Beall drafted this legislation which, “throws the baby out with the bath water.”
Because of the importance of this issue, I want to share with you, the letter I wrote as President of the Southern California Mediation Association to Assembly Member Beall opposing this legislation. ( letter)
As the issue affects not only mediators but parties to a dispute, (mediations are liable to become a lot less available), I urge each of you to write Assembly Member Beall and make your voice and thoughts known.
. . .Just something to think about.