Tag Archive: Bankruptcy Mediation


Jefferson County, Alabama has pushed back mediations scheduled with creditors in April until the end of May. On November 9, 2011, Jefferson County, Alabama filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 9 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.  The county’s goal, after nearly 18 months in bankruptcy related to $4 billion in debt, is to present an exit strategy to the court by June 1.  The county has been working outside of court to resolve outstanding issues with “school warrant, general obligation and sewer creditors.”  Such out-of-court negotiations will either need to result in settlement or an agreement to the county’s proposed exit strategy by at least one creditor class.  The May mediations are scheduled to be conducted by a federal mediator in Atlanta.

Sources:

Quotation from: Honora Gathings, “Jeffco bankruptcy mediation delayed,” http://www.wset.com/story/22058140/jeffco-bankruptcy-mediation-delayed, Apr. 23, 2013.

In re Jefferson County, Alabama, Case No. 11-05736 (TBB), U.S. Bankruptcy Court, N.D. Ala., KCC, http://www.kccllc.net/jeffersoncounty.

 

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  1. Be selective.  Choose “an effective, knowledgeable and reliable mediator, otherwise all parties involved will suffer.”  For bankruptcy mediation, specifically, it may be necessary to look for experienced bankruptcy attorneys and judges to serve as mediators.  Selection of a bankruptcy practitioner or judge, however, is dependent on the issue at hand.  For example, it is likely more crucial to seek a mediator with background knowledge of plan confirmation matters if that is the basis of the dispute, as opposed to the mediation of mass tort or personal injury claims.
  2. Explain the mediation process to your client prior to your first session. “Attorneys should explain to clients that they are not required to agree to any terms they are not comfortable with and that mediation involves a lot of give and take for all . . . parties involved.”
  3. Know your case, its strengths and weaknesses and explain same to your client.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the applicable law, procedures and local rules, so you “can comfortably resist any effort by a mediator [or the opposing side] to [suggest or] impose unfavorable terms on your client.”
  5. Know your settlement authority before beginning the mediation.  Better yet, bring a client representative with settlement authority.
  6. Know when and when not to use mediation.  Remember, a mediation “cannot establish legal precedent or deter future parties from bringing similar claims. . . .  Mediation may also draw out a process that may have been quickly adjudicated if before a bankruptcy judge.”  Also, if your client truly is not willing to mediate to attempt a settlement, then the process will be futile.

Source:

Quotations and excerpts from, Kim, Ji Hun and Nicholas M. McGrath, Mediation: Can’t We All Just Get Along?, ABI Journal (Sept. 2011), at 52-53, 61 (citations omitted) (some internal quotation marks omitted).

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