Mediation Confidentiality: Defenses Raised and Rejected

By Donald L. Swanson The Judges are irritated, to begin with. If anything is clear in In re Anonymous, 283 F.3d 627 (4th Cir. 2002), it’s this: the Judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals are more-than-slightly unhappy with the two attorneys in the case. A Confidentiality Issue The Court hauls two competing attorneys before the... Continue Reading →

Mediation Confidentiality at Second and Ninth Circuits: Stability v. Who Knows?

By: Donald L Swanson You’d expect, these days, that mediation confidentiality is enforced everywhere. But that expectation is wrong. Bankruptcy Hypothetical Let’s start with a bankruptcy hypothetical: Debtor is a small business in Chapter 11 and hopes to reorganize—not liquidate. Debtor reaches a mediated settlement with a large creditor, removing an obstacle to reorganization. Mediating parties... Continue Reading →

Mediation Confidentiality: Limits on Waiving It

Competing and Turbulent InterestsBy Donald L. Swanson The case is In re Anonymous, 283 F.3d 627 (4th Cir. 2002).  It’s an attorney discipline action over breaches of mediation confidentiality in an arbitration.  The dispute in arbitration is between an attorney and his former client over litigation expenses.  This dispute arose after the attorney and client concluded... Continue Reading →

Local Confidentiality Rules DO Create a Mediation Privilege: ADR Act of 1998

By: Donald L. Swanson “It’s doubtful that a district court can augment the list of privileges by local rule” because “privileges are created by federal common law.” —The Facebook, Inc. v. Pacific Northwest Software, Inc., 640 F.3d 1034 (9th Cir. 2011). The Facebook case deals with evidence on “what was said and not said” during mediation. In Facebook,... Continue Reading →

ADR Act of 1998: Two Decades of Noncompliance, and an Artful Dodge in the Ninth Circuit

By:  Donald L. Swanson The Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 1998 ("ADR Act") is celebrating its twenty-year anniversary this year.  It's impact has been highly effective -- but with some less-than-positive results.  This article is about the latter. The ADR Act provides in 28 U.S.C.  § 652(d): "Until such time as rules are adopted under... Continue Reading →

Mediation Confidentiality Protection: A “Very High Bar to Overcome”

By: Donald L. Swanson The legal opinion is In re Residential Capital, LLC, 536 B.R. 132 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y.  2015). The Facts, Including Mediation ResCap bought residential mortgage loans and sold those mortgage loans to others. When a mortgage loan crisis hits, a decade or so ago, many of these mortgage loans go bad.  Those who bought... Continue Reading →

A Federal Bankruptcy Rule is Needed for Mediation Authorization and Confidentiality: Four Reasons Why

  By Donald L. Swanson Mediation needs to be included — explicitly and by name — in the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.  A new Rule is needed to cover two specific subjects: (i) mediation authorization, and (ii) mediation confidentiality. All other areas of mediation practice and procedure can be addressed in local rules, provided that the... Continue Reading →

Combining the “Hip Pocket” Service Rule and Early Mediation

By: Donald L. Swanson The California Law Revision Commission is studying mediation confidentiality in the legal malpractice context.  Its Memorandum dated May 27, 2016, discusses ways to address confidentiality concerns. Minnesota's "Hip Pocket" Example An unusual “type of approach” it identifies is Minnesota’s “hip pocket” service rule.  Under this rule, the statute of limitations is... Continue Reading →

Sanctions for Violating Mediation Confidentiality? No.

By: Donald L Swanson The Bankruptcy  Court opinion is In re Brizinova and Soshkin, 565 B.R. 488 (Bkrtcy. E.D.N.Y. 2017). The Trustee sues the debtors to recover assets for the bankruptcy estate. The Debtors file a motion to dismiss, in which their attorney, (i) makes statements the Trustee finds objectionable, and (ii) references information from a... Continue Reading →

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