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The Legume Cabinet Mediation Case
The case is between Robert, the defendant, who is a first-generation American and Mercy who is the owner of an antique store located nearby. Robert started business in antique restoration after he finished high school and decided not to attend college. Mercy commissioned a job for Robert where she wanted some antiques to be restored in order to have a nice and beautiful look. She was to pick them up on September 5 in order to go and auction them. However, before this time reached, her employee Robert smashed the antiques to pieces due to a domestic argument with his wife over an alleged affair. The insurance refused to pay for the loss citing that they do not cover vandalism by employees. Since the deadline for the job is over, Mercy now wants Robert to pay $50,000 for the Legume cabinets that she commissioned him so that he may restore the antiques to look brand new. She says that a famous artisan by the name of Monsieur Legume made antiques, and that she was confident they would be valued at over $50,000. She has threatened to sue Robert, and he has repeatedly told her that he does not have that kind of money to pay for the antiques. They both have approached their lawyers and are ready to go to court. There have been very heated debates between the two parties with no one showing any signs of backing down. Despite insisting on going to court, their lawyers have advised against that and have proposed they attend a mediation session as going to court would be too expensive and will take too long before the matter is resolved. Fortunately, the disagreement was settled with the mediation process lasting over 8 hours and the dispute was solved in caucus session.
Both parties together with their lawyers arrived at the mediation hall and all were seated in front of each other waiting for the way forward. Robert seemed a bit worried about the splitting cost to be incurred in the mediation process as he was not well off, and his lawyer explained to him that it would not be expensive, maybe $1000 at most. An additional cost to this would be an hourly rate paid to the lawyer. Considering how long the case would take in court and the amount of money Robert would incur, he calms down and agrees to proceed on. The mediator moved out of a certain room and greeted everyone; then he moved to the plaintiff’s side and her lawyer and explained the mediation process in detail and the exact procedure that is followed during mediation. The mediator inquired from them whether they were okay and if they had concerns that were needed to be addressed, but they all said they were good. The mediator then turned to the defendant and lawyer and narrated the whole mediation process to them as he had done that for the other side and enquired if they also shared any concerns, to which they said no. Afterwards, two lawyers approached the mediator and briefed the mediator on the situation and dispute issues, and the mediator proceeded to the other room which was some kind of conference room. They waited for about 20 minutes and then the mediator appeared and asked the whole group to proceed to the other room which was well organized and resembled a conference hall. The mediator asked each party to sit in respective opposite sides of each other so that they faced one another, while the mediator sat in between them at the end of the conference table.
The mediator starts off the mediation process by narrating to both parties that he was going to be acting as neutral ground for both sides. The mediator makes it clear to both parties that he will remain impartial during the whole process of mediation, and it is upon him to listen to every detail of the dispute. He also mentioned the number of years of the experience that he has, which was 28 years in total. The mediator explained to all parties that the purpose of mediation was to find a solution that suits both parties and ultimately find a solution that ends the dispute, but he then went on to explain that if a settlement is reached, the case will be dropped. He said that if a settlement is not reached as it sometimes happens, then there will be no option but to go back to trial and see if the courts can come up with a solution to the dispute. The mediator then asks both groups if they understand and had any issues or concerns or if they still wished to continue with the mediation process. Everyone was in agreement as they said yes, but Mercy was a bit hesitant to answer; however, she finally accepted, and the mediator acknowledged this.
The mediator provided them with a generic mediation agreement to which each party was supposed to sign. The agreement read as below: “Robert and Mercy hereby agree that they will enter into a mediation that is non-binding aimed at making an effort of good faith in order to ultimately find a solution to the dispute between them arising from the Legume cabinets taken by Mercy to Robert on the 14th of May this year. Both parties are in further agreement that all facts disclosed during the mediation process shall be and will stay confidential and shall in no way be disclosed to any third party for any particular reason, except when required by law”. After they were through, the mediator awarded time to each side in order to start off and make their open statements.
The plaintiff (Mercy) was given the first go, and her lawyer initiated the process by claiming the case was a liability case. He said the plaintiff experienced damages in monetary value when the antiques (the Legume cabinets) were not delivered after they were damaged. That fact made Mercy miss the auction where she could have sold them off at $50,000. The lawyer also said that they agreed upon terms of the job, the defendant (Robert) was to be paid $5,000 for the restoration of the antiques, and that Mercy would pick them up by the 5th of September after the defendant was through with the job. The lawyer however stated that he was optimistic that a settlement would be reached by the end of the mediation process.
The defendant was now given the platform to speak about the incident and the defendant’s lawyer started with open statement. The lawyer narrated that they were aware of the loss incurred by the plaintiff through damage of the antiques. However, the defendant’s lawyer questioned the amount in damages charged by the plaintiff claiming that charging the defendant such a huge amount of money with a speculation of what the antiques may be valued at was not fair. The lawyer claimed that there was no strong evidence or proof of value for the antiques; thus, mere speculation on what the value could have been was not right. The lawyer said that considering the financial position of the defendant, that was a hefty amount of money which would be difficult to pay.
After each side was done with their statements and claims, the mediator asked for a caucus session and requested a break for about 20 minutes.
After the break was over, the mediator called both parties back into the conference room, and there was a gentleman in his mid-40s this time. The mediator asked everyone to take seats, and after welcoming everyone back, he introduced the guest as an antiques expert. The mediator requested the plaintiff and her lawyer to assist the antiques expert with pictures taken of the Legume cabinets.
The caucus session began with mediator asking the plaintiff to explain the nature and information concerning the said Legume cabinets. The mediator asked the plaintiff about the history of the antique Legume cabinets and about all the information concerning the antiques. The plaintiff was also asked if she could verify by providing evidence of what she said about the antiques being made by famous artisan by the name of Monsieur Legume. The mediator asked the plaintiff if she would back up the claim of the antiques value if the evidence would prove that it was of essential value in reaching a settlement. The plaintiff said yes, reached some documents from her purse, and handed them to the mediator. She stated that these were verification documents given to her by a well-known antique’s expert. The mediator handed the documents to the antique’s expert in the room and concluded by saying that the demands laid down in the mediation was $50,000.
The mediator then turned to the defendant’s side and asked about the incident that led to the damage and loss of the antique cabinets. The defendant gave a detailed account of the whole scenario and asked the plaintiff for forgiveness as it was not his wish to damage the antiques. However, he said he would take responsibility. The mediator was pleased and regarded this as an opportunity for a breakthrough towards finding a solution. The defendant’s lawyer said they were willing to pay for the damage an amount of $10,000 and would fix the cabinets by trying to rejoin them together, as higher amount of money would mean that Robert was to be declared bankrupt. The lawyer said that even though the antiques would not fetch the full amount they are supposed to, they would still have value if fixed and would still fetch a good amount of money.
The mediator asked the antiques expert to give their verdict on the true value and authenticity of the Legume cabinets. The antiques expert was at first hesitant but after a while narrated that the documents looked genuine as they had an official verification stamp and judging from the pictures given, the antique cabinets were real. However, the expert said that the value claimed by the plaintiff was overstated as the true value of the cabinets would range from $35,000 to $42,000.
The plaintiff and her lawyer discredited this by saying that the antiques were worth more than this. Next, Mercy said that she was not upset about the loss of her cabinets but about the way Robert handled the whole issue of the damage by not telling her about it, and said that he was the best and most skilled furniture restorer she knew. This gives the mediator an idea, and he told both parties there was a way they could resolve this case without having to result into court. It seemed that both parties were still willing to work together despite the dispute, and the mediator asked both parties of this. Robert agreed immediately; however, Mercy and her lawyer exchange whispers for a while but eventually her lawyer said yes.
The mediator suggested that the two parties focus the negotiations on Robert paying off part of his debt in damages through the antiques restoration and some loss value paid off. The mediator proposed an amount of $7,000 to be paid in installments, to which the defendants agreed, but the plaintiff’s side countered with a $9,000 amount. Negotiations were held with figures being thrown back and forth until a final amount of $8,000 was agreed upon. Both parties were in content, and the mediator left the room for about 30 minutes and returned with an agreement in hand which he handed both parties’ lawyers. The lawyers explained the terms of the agreement, after that they all signed, each was given a copy, and one was left for the mediator. After this, the mediator closed off the mediation and all of them went on their ways.