“How is it that I feel so deflated?” I thought to myself. After all, I had just settled a case.
Shouldn’t I feel elated or, at a minimum, feel a sense of accomplishment? I could not help but feel sorry for the Plaintiff. He had trusted the Defendant, sold him goods on credit as a favor, just to get stiffed and have to sue to collect the balance on the contract. The Defendant, on the other hand, claimed delay and defective goods. Was the Cross-Complaint just a ploy to gain leverage against the Plaintiff, I wondered? No, the Defendant really did believe this to be the case.
“Don’t you know that ‘no good deed goes unpunished?’” I asked the Plaintiff. Maybe he was a good guy, but he had also trusted someone whom in the past was late on payments. When he blew up at the notion that the goods could be arguably defective, I put my hands up saying, “Don’t shoot me, I am just the messenger.” The Defendant did have supporting arguments and evidence. These things are really never easy and are a question for the judge or the jury to decide. If I were the judge, I might have ruled for the Plaintiff. But I am not the judge; I am the mediator.
This case got me thinking; “what is my job as mediator?” Idealistically, I would like to think that I am facilitator for justice. Practically speaking, however, maybe my job is just to settle the case. It is up to the attorneys to make sure that their clients are protected. At the end of the day, both sides decided to walk away from the case. Both sides walked away unhappy - and that is the classic definition of a settlement. I do not know all of the facts. Who knows? Maybe the outcome was just.