SETTLEMENT VS. TRIAL

The fact that a lawsuit has been filed in Kootenai County, or elsewhere in Idaho, usually means that attempts at settlement have been fruitless. Nevertheless, the settlement option will continue to reappear during the course of the pretrial process, and even during trial.

Sometimes a lawsuit is filed because the opposing party has not make an offer of even $1. Under such circumstances, a lawsuit is obviously necessary. However, as that recalcitrant party begins to feel the sting of litigation expenses, his or her settlement posture may change. Even if the party being sued (the Defendant) believes he owes nothing, he may get to the point where paying some settlement amount is less expensive than going all the way through trial.  Plus, in almost every case, nobody can’t predict with 100% accuracy what the results of the trial will be. This is especially true in jury trials, where ten strangers drawn from the community will make the ultimate decisions in the case.

This principal also holds true for the party who has filed the lawsuit. Evidence that has been produced in pretrial discovery may cause the party bringing the lawsuit (the Plaintiff) to have second thoughts about the strength of her case. Moreover, except in a narrow category of cases, Idaho courts require each party to pay their own litigation costs and attorney fees. This, if a person sues for the sum of $25,000, and the case goes through the entire formal Discovery process AND a full trial, the total costs and attorney fees may approach that amount.

It is for these reasons that most Idaho judges encourage (and in some cases order) the parties to consider participating in formal mediation. In mediation, a specially trained mediator meets with the parties for several hours, or even a full day, to see if he can assist them at arriving at a compromise solution that, although imperfect, at least partially satisfies both of them.

The widespread use of mediation in both civil and criminal cases has reduced the number of cases going to trial, and thus relieve the overburdened judges to attend to other trials, motions and miscellaneous judicial responsibilities.

Overall, the use of formal mediation has reduced the costs of obtaining justice for the citizens of Idaho.