Diary of a mediation in Spokane

Photo:  During the break in mediation today.  Steve arguing in court.  Paul studying up.

Photo:  During the break in mediation today.  Steve arguing in court.  Paul studying up.

The alarm is ringing.  Try to ignore it, but know cannot.  Look at the phone/clock and it is 4:30.  As in a.m.  Put on ugly red glasses.  Only wear them when no one can see me.  Like now.  Lie there til 4:45.  Finally jump up because  have to make a plane.  Open the drapes.  There is a gigantic full moon that seems to be shining a path across puget sound right into my bedroom.

Rush around. Put on black clothing.  Tell Nala to get up.  Out the door.  Drop her at doggie daycare.  Make it to the airport by 6.  Stand in sluggish security line.  Even the special Spokane shuttle line is clogged.  No worries.  Have time to get a scone and bottle of water from D'Lish.

Eat mediocre blueberry scone in waiting area.  Wait until everyone else has boarded.  Then get on plane.  Make two people already seated in the row get up to let me in.  Close eyes and semi-fall asleep but not really.  Bump.  We've landed.  Open eyes.  Shuffle out of plane.  Call Steve Nordstrom my co-counsel.  He says he's already here.  Walk outside and there he is.  He asks if I mind if he opens the car door for me.  I say, by all means.  He's worried about it.  Apparently he did this to another female lawyer and she chewed him a new one.  The way I feel about it, if someone wants to open a door for me go for it.

We drive downtown.  It is too early.  Stop by Madeleine's french pastry shop.  Get an almost pure sugar creation.  Eat it.   Yes if you're counting this is a two pastry morning.

Go to mediation.  Gary Bloom's office at the US Bank building.  We get off at 4th floor.  Wrong.  We get back into elevator get off at 13th floor.  Our client is there.  First time I've met him.  I've been on this case about three months.  Steve has had it for over three years.  But asked me to help get it ready for trial.  Thank you Steve.

Fall in love with client.  Gary comes in and does his spectacular mediator dance. Goes out to the other room and repeats it.  Comes back and does some more.  And on it goes for two hours.  At which point we have to hurry off to court.  Yes that's right.  In the middle of mediation me, Steve, the defense attorney, his associate, the adjuster who's flown in, the defendant, the defendant's personal counsel all trot off to court.  Our client doesn't come with us.  We want to spare him.

Steve opens and closes doors for me several more times before we reach the courtroom.  I then sit at counsel table and do nothing other than take this picture.  The defense wants to stay the trial which is set to start in a month.  They want the court of appeals to rule on an issue (the county was dismissed).  Steve tells the court the only reason they want to do this is because our client has cancer.  They want to delay the case so he will never have his day in court.   Paul, the county attorney adds some nice arguments.

The defense lawyer makes his argument.  But it's hard to do a good job when you know you're going to lose.  Which he does.

So Steve opens and shuts more doors for me.  We get back up to the mediation room.  Gary comes back in and resumes his dance.

It is a very emotional mediation.  As you will recall, our client has cancer.  Not the good kind.  After we've strutted around and puffed out our feathers a bit, the case settles.  It is not confidential and I could tell you how much, but that isn't the point of this story.   I could also get the client's permission to tell you his reaction, but I don't want to do that because that is his story.

What I can tell you, is that I hate settling cases in mediation as a general rule.  I want to try cases.  Don't want to compromise off of what I think is a proper value.  Perhaps in my entire career as a plaintiff lawyer have settled ten or less cases in mediation that was really pleased about.  For various reasons.

Well, this is one of those cases.

Gary comes back in with the paperwork.  Says the defendant truck driver would like to come in.  Just to see our client and apologize again.  The driver actually had visited our client in the hospital.  You'd think this would be what most bad drivers would do - but they almost never do.  So we like him for being decent.    I tell Gary he can come in if they will pay more money.  Gary falls back in his chair.  Tell him just kidding.  The driver comes in with all the lawyers and adjuster.  They are very respectful and gracious.  Then leave.

I hug the client goodbye.  Say bye to Gary.  Steve opens and closes various doors for me as he gets me to the airport.   It is 4. Hug him goodbye.   Go to the grill and eat a very bad quesadilla and garden salad (uh - no garden in that salad).

Am last to board plane.  Make woman in the aisle seat get up to let me in.  Sit down.  Close eyes and do not open them until. Bump.  Have landed.

Rush home.  Throw on running gear.  It is 7:15.  Sun sets at 8:15.  Run down hill. Along waterfront.  Up over bridge.  Pick up Nala at doggie daycare.  Back over bridge.  Through train yard.  Up hill.  Sun has set.  Meander through residential district.  Thinking what a very good job everyone did today. Our side and their side.  We all got it right.

Get home.  Look at calendar.  Oh no.

Have to make another 7:00 am plane tomorrow.  Crud.