Challenges to good faith settlements that cut off the rights of non-settling defendants to seek indemnification and contribution from settling defendants are nearly always doomed to failure. Trial courts are understandably eager to clear their dockets and there’s no docket-clean-up pitcher like the first defendant to settle. Deny the motion and bring a settled defendant and his trial-ready resources back in to the litigation when the first defendant-domino has just successfully toppled over? Not likely, my friend. Not in the trial court at any rate.
These motions are so difficult to oppose that I’ve seen a target defendant threaten a marginal player (my client) with sanctions just for challenging the target’s very low six-figure settlement in an eight-figure antitrust action.
It looks like low value settlements got just a little bit harder to defend yesterday when the Second District Court of Appeal reversed a trial court’s good faith settlement finding in Long Beach Memorial Medical Center v. Superior Court (Conners).
Best quotation: “The hospital contends that the physiciansâ€Ÿ $200,000 settlement — representing 2 percent of plaintiffsâ€Ÿ $10 million damages estimate — was so far out of the “ballpark” it was not even in the parking lot.” With a first runner-up to “If section 877.6 is to serve the ends of justice, it must prevent a party from purchasing protection from its indemnification obligation at bargain-basement prices.”
The Court of Appeal relied upon the following “facts” in finding that the trial court abused its considerable discretion in granting a good faith motion to defendant physicians in light of defendant hospital’s opposition.
If this case isn’t depublished (an unfortunate California practice) or taken up for review, it will bear re-reading and deeper thinking about the stategy and tactics of breaking away from the mob to cut a separate deal beneficial to one’s own client without “consider[ing] . . the relevant liability of all parties . . . ”
*/ This is a good place to note the importance of either indicating in the parties’ post-mediation written negotiations that the mediation is continuing (hence the communications remain absolutely protected) or that the mediation has concluded (hence bringing those post-mediation settlement negotiations outside the scope of the strictly enforced mediation confidentiality restrictions).
Check out Balkinization's Why is Empathy Controversial? or Liberal, an excellent analysis of empathic wisdom (and blind spots) on the Bench in the wake of a noted Republican's vow to...By Victoria Pynchon
Introduction In most civil mediations in the United States the number of parties is relatively limited. Not including such types of mediation as “Land Use” or “Environmental” most mediations have...By Jon Linden
Anger can make us do and say things that we later regret. It can make a person do and say things that they would never do or say in normal...By Jeanette Bicknell