Early Assessment Program
(Alternative Dispute Resolution)
EAP Home | General Order | Complete List of Neutrals
GUIDELINES FOR NEUTRALS U.S. DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI WESTERN DIVISION
- As a neutral for cases assigned to the Early Assessment Program, it is important that you take action to see that the case you are involved in is handled as promptly as possible. It is important that problems and controversies in processing Early Assessment cases be kept to a minimum. If you do have problems or concerns, please call the Administrator of the Early Assessment Program (816-512-5080) for assistance or guidance. It is also the desire of the Court that cases are processed in an economical way so that controversies concerning neutrals’ bills are kept to a minimum. It is the desire of the Early Assessment Program that its reputation for prompt assistance to attorneys and to litigants in a polite, helpful and cost-efficient basis is maintained.
- Please read the General Order governing the Early Assessment Program.
- The General Order requires that a neutral take or sign the oath of affirmation prescribed by 28 U.S.C. Section 453 before acting as a neutral. Please call the Early Assessment Program at (816) 512-5080 to arrange for a time to take the oath at the office of the Early Assessment Program before you conduct your first session as a mediator.
- When an early assessment case is assigned to an outside neutral, the parties will be sent a notice that they may select a neutral of their choice within 15 days. If the parties select a neutral, they are required to file a certificate with the Clerk’s office or the Early Assessment Program office indicating the name, address and telephone number of the neutral, and the date, time and place of the first meeting scheduled with the outside neutral. When contacted by one or more parties, the potential neutral is encouraged to work out a fee agreement as to his/her services, and to prepare a short writing to record the fee agreement.
- Meetings should be scheduled promptly. Meetings with the neutral should be scheduled and held within 30 days after the neutral is selected. The neutral and the attorneys are responsible for prompt scheduling. If attorneys provide you with sound and specific reasons why specific limited evidence is needed to evaluate the case, and if the neutral receives assurances as to an early date certain the evidence can be obtained, the session with the neutral may be postponed for up to an additional 30 days. Any continuances beyond the foregoing must have the prior approval of the office of the Early Assessment Program.
- It is important that the lead trial attorneys, the parties and the insurance representatives be present in person. Being “available” by phone is not satisfactory. If a corporate entity is involved, the person representing the entity should be someone who evaluates law suits and makes settlement decisions as a part of their regular duties. In the event a public entity is involved, they should have a representative of the public entity present in person who has settled similar cases in the past on the recommendation of such person. The personal presence of the lead trial attorney, or the person with authority, should not be excused without the prior approval of the office of the Early Assessment Program. Independent adjusters shall not be used as a representative of an insurance company or a party unless approved in advance by the office of the Early Assessment Program.
- Neutrals are expected to charge a reasonable fee not to exceed the hourly rate on their last application to be on the List of Potential Neutrals. However, if agreed in writing and in advance between the neutral and the parties, the neutral may be compensated at the hourly rate agreed to in writing. Neutral compensation is subject to court approval. Neutrals may be required to do one or two pro bono cases per calendar year. The neutrals are not to bill for preparation time, research time, reviewing pleadings, or for the time of others (associates, partners, paralegals, secretaries, etc.).
- It is assumed that each side of a two-party case will pay one-half of the cost of the neutral. If there are multiple plaintiffs or defendants, or both, unless otherwise agreed to in writing, each plaintiff will be responsible for a proportional share of one-half of the cost of the neutral, and each defendant will be responsible for a proportionate share of one-half of the cost of the neutral. The Administrator or the Court may make a different allocation.
- If a party has been allowed to file in forma pauperis, that party will not be required to pay the neutral, and the session with the neutral shall not exceed two hours. In all other cases, the neutral should not charge for more than four hours unless first agreed in writing by all parties.
- Neutrals who reside or office out of the Kansas City area are to conduct the neutral sessions in the Kansas City area unless otherwise approved in advance by the parties or the Administrator. Travel expenses and travel time are not to be charged by neutrals, unless approved in advance by the parties or the Administrator.
- It is important that there be no conflicts of interest involving the neutral and any of the parties or the attorneys. You should be sure there are no conflicts of interest before acting as a neutral. No person should serve as a neutral in an action in which any of the circumstances specified in 28 U.S.C. Section 455 or in 28 U.S.C. Section 144 exists or, in good faith, are believed to exist. If a party or a neutral believes there may be a conflict of interest, they should make the possible conflict of interest known to each party and to the Administrator of the Early Assessment Program within ten days after learning of the possible conflict.
- The neutrals may find it advantageous to request from the parties a copy of the last complaint and answer.
- Meetings will be conducted in a professional and civil manner. Personal Attacks, language or gestures by attorneys intended to be offensive shall be reported to the Administrator.
- Within ten (10) days after a session is completed, the neutral and the attorneys should forward a short written statement to the Administrator as to the date of the session, the length of time of the session, whether or not the case was settled, and whether or not an additional session might be helpful in resolving the matter. For information purposes only, forward a copy of your bill of your charges to the Administrator of the Early Assessment Program. The Early Assessment Program is not responsible for the processing of your bill, or for seeing that your bill is paid.
April 14, 2009 Draft