Twice recently, I attended mediations where I ultimately learned that the opposing lawyer failed to bring a client with him who had authority to settle the case. On one, my client was fortunate to learn that disturbing fact fairly quickly; we walked out of the mediation after only wasting about two hours (not including travel time). On the second, we were not so fortunate. We did not learn that our adversary failed to have someone present with settlement authority until approximately 5:30 p.m. - eight hours after we began the mediation. The client, in essence, paid three lawyers for accomplishing nothing. Additionally, two of their representatives did nothing at work that day. In hindsight, there really isn't much we could have done to avoid this.
Relying on your adversary being truthful, which we did in both of these cases, unfortunately, sometimes is not enough. What I will do with these parties in the future is refuse to mediate with them, unless they represent to the mediator in writing that their client representative will be physically present and will have actual settlement authority. Requiring them to pay exclusively for the second round, if such occurs, is something to be considered, but probably would not be well received.
If there is any doubt as to whether your adversary in a mediation will have a client present with actual settlement authority, my recommendation is to put off the mediation, because the odds are more likely than not that your mediation will be unsuccessful and you will leave quite frustrated and with an unhappy client.
Now for the Opening Day memory:
If you grew up in New York and fell in love with baseball in the mid-1960's like I did, it was all about Mickey Mantle and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Willie Mays. Willie played in New York until 1958 when the Giants moved to San Francisco and, as a result, was still quite popular in New York in the 1960's. He also was an amazing player, and the player who was most compared to Mickey in the "who was better" debates. So I totally relate to the Opening Day memory from Marty Perez which, as you probably realize, revolves around Willie Mays (as will the next Opening Day memory--a little preview).
Marty was a journeyman middle infielder who played most of his 10-year career with the Atlanta Braves. He also played for the Angels, Giants, Yankees and A's. Marty retired having hit 22 home runs among his 700+ hits. Although he hardly was a major league superstar, he does have a super Opening Day memory.
"The only Opening Day that really stands out was my very first one, with the Braves, against the San Francisco Giants in 1971. It was my very first game with the Braves and in the National League. There is some background to my story. When I was growing up in Visalia, California, I listened to the Giants just about every day during the baseball season. Russ Hodges was the announcer and Willie Mays was my favorite ballplayer. He wore number 24, and I wore his number throughout my high school career. When I signed a contract with the California Angels in 1964 and as I worked up the ranks, I followed how Willie was doing in the major leagues.
In 1970, I got a call from the Angels saying that I got traded to the Atlanta Braves, which I thought was a great deal because I'd be going right to the major leagues. I went to spring training that year and met all the guys and they told me I was the man at shortstop. Opening Day came at Atlanta Stadium and I was so in awe of just being able to play in the major leagues and of starting at shortstop and being the only rookie on the team. I didn't have a chance to wear number 24 because another player had it. Instead, I wore number 9. And to top it off, we were playing the Giants.
In 1971, Willie was still with the Giants and was still hitting the ball pretty good. The game started, and I knew Willie was playing, but it just didn't hit me that we were both on the same field. The first batter, Bobby Bonds, got up and made out. The next guy up was Tito Fuentes, their second baseman. He made out, but before he had, I realized Willie Mays was on deck, and I was so in awe. You gotta understand - he was my hero. He meant everything to me in the world of baseball. And you have to remember that I was now a teammate of Hank Aaron. Henry was a big guy, too, but he played in Milwaukee while I was growing up across the country with Willie in San Francisco, so Willie became my hero.
While he was on deck, I started shaking! And I mean shaking, uncontrollably! I was so nervous he was going to hit a ground ball to me! Tito made out and here came Willie! As he walked to the plate, I just looked up in the sky and said, 'Lord, please don't let him hit me a ground ball!' The first pitch from Phil Niekro was a strike, and so was the second, and I'm thinking, 'Hey, maybe I'll get out of this inning!' But I'm still shaking, and I start wondering if the guys on the bench can tell. And on the next pitch, Willie hits a ground ball to me. He hit it really, really hard, but it was one of those ground-hugging grounders. And Willie still ran pretty good, but he hit the ball right at me.
You know those commercials on television where they show the guy running in slow motion? It was like that when I caught the ball - everything was in slow motion. I was so nervous that I wasn't going to be able to catch the ball and throw him out. I felt like even if I was able to catch the ball, I wouldn't be able to get the ball out of the pocket. I caught the ball and was able to get it out of the pocket, but when I threw it, I felt like I was throwing in slow motion. The ball seemed to take forever to get to first base. What should have been a routine groundout turned into a real close play. Thankfully, he was called out, and as I was running in to the dugout with Felix Millan, our second baseman, Felix said, 'What in the world took you so long to throw the ball?' So I said, 'Felix, let me tell you a little story,' which I proceeded to do.
I got a chance to tell Willie about this some time later. We went out in San Francisco and he got a kick out of the whole story!"
See you in two with another Willie Mays' tale. Richie