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“I don’t have that kind of money.”

January 28, 2012

Sometimes there are mediations in which it becomes apparent that the claimant (the person seeking money) should probably receive some money:  the claimant probably has been harmed in some way by the respondent (the person that would have to pay).

In some of those mediations, however, a respondent will say, “I just don’t have that kind of money” after hearing the demands of the claimant.

This could be a true statement, or not.

In two recent unrelated mediations, the respondents said in effect, “I just don’t have/can’t pay that much.”

The respondents each countered with substantially less which the claimants refused.

In both cases, the claimants heard about the cost of getting or having “justice” and/or the ability to collect.  Similarly, the respondents heard about the cost of defense and the economic risk and consequence of losing.

In both cases, even after discussion, both sides remained rigid in their settlement proposals, and the mediations sessions ended without a settlement agreement.

The question is: “Who was being unrealistic?”

In one case, it was possible that the respondent did in fact have more resources than implied in the negotiation (ascertainable of course by an asset search), and it appeared also that the claimant had the resources to pursue the litigation.  So, it is possible that the respondent was being unrealistic, i.e., unable or unwilling to face the possible consequences going forward versus the cost of avoiding them.

In the other case, really it just didn’t appear that the respondent had the resources to make the kind of settlement that the claimant wanted.  Also, frankly, it appeared that the claimant did not have the resources to continue the litigation either.  There, it was possible that the claimant was being unrealistic, not only about the cost of getting justice but also the likelihood of any substantial recovery from a possibly destitute litigant.

In both cases, the claimants clung to their senses of “justice” and “fairness,” which, for them, demanded more than their respondents offered.

What was more interesting, however, was how individuals in each mediation could not face the economic realities before them to choose a way out of the dispute.


From → Mediation

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