Two local municipal authorities in Ohio are not cooperating. So, a local judge orders them to mediate the dispute between them, according to this news report from The Athens Messenger.
One municipality, a local school district, wants to connect a proposed wellness center into the sewer system of the local village.
The local village says it can’t allow the proposed sewer connection, unless the village is able to annex the proposed wellness center.
Apparently, the school district is opposed to annexation but wants the sewer connection anyway, so it sues the village to get its way.
The Court’s Ruling
The village files a motion to dismiss the school district’s lawsuit.
Judge Patrick Lang of the Athens County Common Pleas Court rules on the motion to dismiss in this fashion:
–The lawsuit “warrants dismissal”; but
–A mediator is appointed instead, with a requirement that the parties have at least one mediation session, to be scheduled as soon as possible; and
–The dismissal ruling is deferred to allow time for the parties to pursue a mediated settlement.
The Judge’s rationale for this ruling includes these factors:
–If a final judgment is made, the parties might appeal and continue the legal fight for a year or more.
–“The parties may wish to post-pone or alleviate the need for a final judgment by mediating or negotiating a solution to this dispute,” noting that there may be other plausible courses of action.
–The local school district and the village must “co-exist” in a small community.
–“If there is any consensus that a Wellness Center would benefit the community at large, perhaps the parties can investigate feasible methods for making the center a reality rather than litigating for months or years to come.”
These are wise judicial words and a wise course of action.
Here’s a translation of how I read the Judge’s ruling:
We all need to do what’s best for our small community.
Stop this ridiculous fighting and start doing what you are supposed to be doing!”
Good for the Judge!
While the foregoing is a good try (and a commendable effort) by the Judge, fighters are gonna’ fight.
So . . . the legal fight between these small-community authorities continues, according to this news article dated July 4, 2016.
–The ordered mediation does not occur.
–Instead, the legal fight on the same issue has moved out of the court system and on to the Ohio EPA.
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES TO ARTICLE — LINKED IN 8-29 to Present
Mark B. Baer Mandatory “mediation” is required in California after someone files a Request for Order Regarding Child Custody and/or Visitation. It bears mentioning that 70% of those matters are resolved in that post-filing, “mediation, after the parties stated derogatory things against each other in their respective pleadings.
I propose that more such cases settle when attempted pre-filing and that they don’t unnecessarily further damage their ability to co-parent their children.
In other words, don’t poo poo mandatory mediation.
Donald Swanson Thanks for your insights, Mark.
- John (Norval) Settle I’ve participated in many “mandatory” mediations, including ones (a) where a judge has referred parties to a mandatory engagement with a mediator before continuing in court, and (b) where a boss has sent subordinates to mediation. Both have an overtone of coercion, I suppose, but once they’re in the room with me, in the vast majority of cases, we quickly get beyond that into discussing the drivers of the parties’ conflict and the magic of mediation takes over.