Update (August 19, 2013): Now maybe Marvin Lumber and Sapa might make more progress in settlement negotiations? (See linked opinions here and here and the earlier post, below).
Original Post (March 21, 2013): Spring does not come to Minnesota quite as fast as it does for everywhere else in the continental United States. Maybe this is why Minnesota Litigator seems fixated this week on Julie Andrews and “Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes,Silver white winters that melt into springs, These are a few of my favorite things…”
Whether it is Spring fever or general juridical malaise, there seem to be some recent items coming to my attention of some of the less pleasant aspects of civil litigation. The latest: hammering out a truce with one’s adversary followed by a court’s shredding that negotiated deal, mutually agreed by the clients and their legal counsel to be in everyone’s best interest? TAAFOMFT.
I “get it” when parties and lawyers collude to rip off some interested but unrepresented related party. (In the AmChem case, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court highlighted that “Rule 23…must be…applied with the interests of absent class members in close view”). Courts can and should throw out any collusive, phony, or unsound deals.
I also “get it” when parties and lawyers treat the court system as some sort of endlessly mobile and flexible back-stop that they can shove wherever it suits them to accommodate their interests without regard or respect for the courts’ own.
Still, it always smarts when civil litigators and their clients, at war, negotiate something that all combatants agree makes sense and courts reject the deal.
Marvin Lumber and Sapa Extrusions have been fighting it out in U.S. District Court (D. Minn.) since late 2010 but each thought it made sense to have oral argument on dispositive motions before having a settlement conference. U.S. Mag. Judge Leo I. Brisbois (D. Minn.), however, thought not.
Judge Brisbois’ decision makes good sense in all respects. Nevertheless, I can imagine some frustration among attorneys and their clients, having packed up a small bundle of collaboration, when they ask for and do not get the court’s blessing.