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Fastest. Mediation. Evah.

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 21, 2010 in The 2L Life

If you want to see a mediation go quickly, sit in on one where a Plaintiff’s demands are orders of magnitude less costly than what the Defendant expects ;)

That happened earlier today. On one side was counsel for the Plaintiff, a 76-year-old retired elementary school teacher. On the other was counsel for the Defendant, a research hospital.

The Plaintiff is the epitome of a “sweet old lady” who does a lot of civic and charitable work in her retirement, and she agreed to participate in a medical study administered by the Defendant on depression among the elderly. The nurse who saw her to administer an MRI was incompetent, didn’t situate the ear plugs correctly despite Plaintiff telling her repeatedly that they weren’t blocking out any sound, and due to the loud noise of the MRI the Plaintiff ended up with permanent chronic tinnitus.1

The Plaintiff has 10.6 years to live based on a standard mortality table, and was in otherwise perfect health for her age. The initial letter from Plaintiff’s counsel to the Defendant essentially laid out all of the details but apparently didn’t make a demand, instead suggesting mediation to resolve the case without a lawsuit being filed.

Now even though no litigation had started yet, as I’m sitting there I’m figuring the initial demand will be well in excess of a million dollars and this mediation is destined for an impasse.

Assuming the Plaintiff’s got 10.6 years to live — roughly ~3,869 days — and she’s awake 16 hours a day, that’s 61,904 hours of having to deal with a constant ringing in her ears. The university paid her $100 for a 4-hour test, so they considered her time worth $25/hr. To me that calculates out to an initial demand of $1,547,600.00 without any further justification.

Apparently the Defendant’s attorneys were expecting the same thing, because they looked like deer caught in the headlights after what happened next.

The lead attorney for the Plaintiff provides an opening statement detailing the facts of the case, offers the rationale for the Plaintiff’s impending demands, then starts rattling those demands off: disciplining the nurse responsible, notifying the NIH of the incident to ensure an independent review of hospital procedure is conducted, providing a training workshop for all nursing personnel, contacting all the previous patients placed under this nurse’s care to ensure they’re OK medically, providing written verification to the Plaintiff that procedural changes have been made to ensure this doesn’t happen again, and a cash settlement of…

…wait for it…

…only $50,000 :surprised:

That was it. Medical expenses. Pain and suffering. Attorney’s fees. All of it.

Defendant’s counsel were so caught off-guard that the 3 of them were talking amongst themselves for a solid minute before giving an opening statement of their own. And that statement wasn’t even really a typical opening in a mediation: they started by apologizing for the incident, then accepted all of the demands in exchange for a release and a nondisclosure agreement.

Fifteen minutes later everything was done. It’s actually taken longer for me to write this entry than the mediation itself :beatup:

Given how many people see lawsuits as a way to get rich nowadays, it was refreshing to have a Plaintiff who was really just ticked off and put a higher value on non-monetary demands to make sure procedural deficiencies were fixed. And it was entertaining to see a demand catch people off-guard because it was so *low*.

All in all it was a fun experience :) That’s it from me tonight y’all, have a great evening! :D

  1. Tinnitus is a persistent ringing / whistling / humming sound in the ears. []

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