Court of Appeal Reminds That “The Essence of Mediation Is Its Voluntariness”
Jeld-Wen was a minor player in a complex construction dispute. It was ordered by the trial court to attend a mediation and pay its share of costs. Jeld-Wen refused to attend, and was duly ordered to attend and sanctioned. Jeld-Wen sought a writ of mandate directing the trial court to set aside its ruling, and the Court of Appeal duly issued an order to show cause. Jeld-Wen, Inc. v. Superior Court, 146 Cal.App.4th 536, 53 Cal.Rptr.3d 115 (2007).
Held: “[A] case management conference order requiring that parties in complex cases attend and pay for mediation is not authorized by the statutory scheme . . . and is contrary to the voluntary nature of mediation.” (Distinguishing Lu v. Superior Court, 55 Cal.App.4th 1264 (1997): “a referee appointed under section 639 may conduct a mandatory settlement conference in a complex case . . . “).