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<xTITLE>Court of Appeal Overturns Class Action Settlement Arrived at in Mediation</xTITLE>

Court of Appeal Overturns Class Action Settlement Arrived at in Mediation

by Jeffrey Krivis, Mariam Zadeh
November 2008

From the First Mediation Blog of Jeff Krivis and Mariam Zadeh.

The California Court of Appeal in Kullar v. Foot Locker Retail, Inc. found that the trial court abused its discretion in finding the terms of the class action settlement to be fair, reasonable, and adequate where the record failed to establish what investigation counsel conducted or what information counsel reviewed on which counsel based their assessment of the strength of the class members’ claims.

The Court further found that the record lacked sufficient information for the trial court to intelligently evaluate the amount in controversy and the realistic range of outcomes of the litigation. Furthermore, the fact that the settlement was reached during mediation did not eliminate the trial court’s obligation to evaluate the terms of the settlement. If there were some relevant information that was subject to a privilege that the trial court needed to respect, other data should have been provided that would have enabled the court to make an independent assessment of the adequacy of the settlement terms.

The Court of Appeals held that just because communications made during mediation and writings prepared for use in mediation were inadmissible and not subject to compulsory production did not mean that underlying data, not otherwise privileged, was also immune from production.

Biography


Jeffrey Krivis

Improvisational Negotiation. This phrase summarizes Krivis’ philosophy for a successful and dynamic mediated negotiation. A successful mediation needs both keen legal insight gained from years of litigation experience and cannot be scripted.

Exploring this idea with further study led Krivis to venture on the stage as a stand-up comedian. Ultimately, he authored a book entitled Improvisational Negotiation: A Mediator’s Stories of Conflict About Love, Money and Anger – and the Strategies that Resolved Them (Wiley/Jossey-Bass 2006). This book received the 2006 Outstanding Book Award from the CPR International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution.

Krivis began his mediation practice in 1989 breaking open a niche in the Southern California dispute resolution landscape. He crafted a process that sets the stage for successful resolution. Through improvising, harmonizing, and always closing, he has resolved thousands of disputes including wage and hour and consumer class actions, entertainment, mass tort, employment, business, complex insurance, product liability and wrongful death matters.


Mariam Zadeh was an active trial lawyer in New York City until September 11, 2001, at which time her life was dramatically changed. She moved to Los Angeles, obtained her L.L.M. in Alternative Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University, and became a partner with Jeffrey Krivis at First Mediation Corporation. Since joining Jeffrey Krivis, Mariam has successfully mediated employment, class actions, commercial, premises & professional liability, mass torts, medical malpractice, ERISA and other tort actions as well as matters pending on appeal. In 2007, Mariam was featured as a “Rising Star” in the Southern California Super Lawyers magazine and was profiled by the Los Angeles Daily Journal. She is a published author and frequently lectures and teaches at ADR workshops and classes throughout California.