Madison County judges looking into mediation for complex civil cases

Ann Knef Jun. 19, 2007, 4:24pm

Madison County Chief Circuit Judge Ann Callis announced she has formed a committee of judges to study possible mediation in complex civil cases.

The announcement came a day after Callis said the circuit had adopted a mediation program for medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Madison County.

In Tuesday's announcement, Callis said she appointed Judges Barbara Crowder, Dave Hylla, Dan Stack and Richard Tognarelli to study mediation in complex civil cases.

Crowder said in a phone interview that the court doesn't have a specific definition of "complex," but views complex cases as ones with volume. For instance, she said, cases with many issues, parties, hundreds of exhibits or thousands of pages of documents.

She said the cases could include major consumer, insurance and environmental litigation, for example.

"Our goal is to find a way to promptly resolve these very complex disputes both fairly and justly," Crowder stated. She said she would expect both plaintiffs' and defense counsel to welcome a streamlined process for case resolution.

The decision to study mediation came as a second part to the circuit's decision last year to implement a mandatory arbitration program to resolve cases where the dispute is in amounts less than $50,000, Crowder said.

An arbitration court is set to open in Wood River in July, she said.

On Monday Callis said that a newly created judicial review panel will determine whether medical malpractice cases should be mediated.
Judges also established restrictions on motions to dismiss med mal cases involving certificates of merit.

The new rules were adopted by the Third Judicial Circuit's nine circuit judges, based on recommendations of the circuit's Medical-Legal Committee.

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