Bronson v. Patterson, et al.
ORDER granting in part 30 Motion TO LIMIT ATTENDEES AT MEDIATED SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE - The attendees at the court-hosted settlement conference shall be limited to the parties, Plaintiff's spouse, a representative from Defendants' ins urance carrier, and their attorneys. Additionally, if Plaintiff, who is presently prose, retains counsel, such counsel shall file a notice of his/her appearance with the court prior to the courthosted settlement conference. Signed by Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones, Jr. on 10/20/2014. (Baker, C.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
FREDERICK C. BRONSON,
WILLIAM E. PATTERSON, CODE
This matter comes before the court on the motion of Defendants to limit particular
individuals from attending a court-hosted settlement conference to be held before the
undersigned on Friday, October 24, 2014. Plaintiff was provided an expedited period in which to
respond to the motion and has done so. [DE-32].
On September 26, 2014, in response to a joint request by the parties, the undersigned was
appointed to conduct a court-hosted settlement conference in this matter. [DE-26]. The
conference is scheduled to be held on October 24, 2014 in Raleigh, North Carolina. On October
14, 2014, Defendants filed the instant motion to limit the attendees at the conference. [DE-30].
In particular, Defendants seek to limit the attendees at the conference to the parties, Plaintiffs
spouse, a representative from Defendants' insurance carrier, and their attorneys. Defendants state
further that if Plaintiff, who is presently prose, retains counsel, such counsel should file a notice
of appearance with the court prior to the settlement conference. Defendants also move the court
to order that all discussions occurring in the conference be confidential.
In support of the motion, Defendants indicate they received a text message from Plaintiff
in which he stated that he may be accompanied at the settlement conference by four persons,
including two members of the media. Plaintiffhas identified two of the individuals by name.
However, according to Defendants, Plaintiff has never before mentioned these persons as having
knowledge of facts material to this case. Defendants state further that Plaintiff neither identified
these persons in discovery nor did Plaintiff name them in his initial disclosures, the time for
which to supplement has expired. Finally, Defendants argue that settlement discussions between
the parties during a mediation are typically confidential and not subject to disclosure to third
parties by attendees, and Plaintiff should therefore be ordered to keep settlement discussions at
the conference confidential.
In his response, Plaintiff has identified four individuals, as either reporters or immigration
advocates, who would attend the court-hosted settlement conference "to take notes, and observe
if a settlement is not reached and it goes to trial." [DE-32].
Local rules governing court-hosted settlement conferences require certain individuals to
be physically present at the conference. See Local Civil Rule 101.2(d). These attendance
requirements may be modified if in the judicial officer's discretion such allowance will not
interfere with the expeditious settlement of the case. In fact, this court has entered an order
directing the attendance of certain individuals as well as informing the parties of the court's
expectations regarding the manner in which the conference will proceed. The order provides the
appropriate framework to aide the settlement process. While the local rules do not explicitly bar
individuals from attending court-hosted settlement conferences, the rules invest the judicial
officer conducting such a conference with wide discretion in implementing measures to
appropriately control the conference in a way that encourages parties to be candid so that the
court may properly guide settlement discussions and in a manner which promotes the ultimate
goal of the conference, that is, settlement of the case. See generally Local Civil Rule 10 1.2.
The individuals whom Plaintiff has identified are neither among those required to attend
per local rules nor as directed by the court in its previous order. Furthermore, it is unclear to this
court how anyone other than the persons identified by the court as being required to attend and
participate in the mediation process may promote the settlement of this case. Accordingly,
Defendants' motion is ALLOWED IN PART: the attendees at the court-hosted settlement
conference shall be limited to the parties, Plaintiffs spouse, a representative from Defendants'
insurance carrier, and their attorneys. Additionally, if Plaintiff, who is presently prose, retains
counsel, such counsel shall file a notice of his/her appearance with the court prior to the courthosted settlement conference. Finally, while Defendants' description regarding the confidential
nature of settlement proceedings is accurate, the court will address the confidential nature of
settlement with the parties at the conference.
For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is ALLOWED IN PART.
So ordered the 20th day of October 2014.
iobert B. Jones~
United States Magistrate Judge
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