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Hernandez v. Allstate Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

March 9, 2017

DONNY HERNANDEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER SETTING SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE

          LOURDES A. MARTÍNEZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This case has been referred to me for a settlement conference. See D.N.M. LR-Civ. 16.2(a). Having conferred with counsel about a mutually-convenient date, time, and location, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that all parties and their lead counsel shall appear at the United States Courthouse in Albuquerque, New Mexico (courtroom to be determined), on September 7, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. An insured party or an uninsured corporate party shall also have at the settlement conference a representative with full authority to discuss and enter into a binding settlement. Please note that Judge Martinez' definition of “a representative with full authority” is the person who can authorize payment of Plaintiff's last demand prior to the settlement conference. This does NOT mean that this person will be willing to pay it; it just means that this person has the “authority” to pay it.

         Experience teaches that settlement conferences are often unproductive unless the parties have exchanged demands and offers before the conference and made a serious effort to settle the case on their own. Accordingly, by August 17, 2017, Plaintiff's counsel shall serve on defense counsel a letter, with a copy to the Court by e-mail to the proposed text e-mail of the Magistrate Judge who is assigned to this case at that time, [1] or by mail as long as the letter arrives by the deadline, that sets forth at least the following information: (a) a brief summary of the evidence and legal principles that Plaintiff asserts will allow it to establish liability; (b) a brief explanation of why damages or other relief would appropriately be granted at trial; (c) an itemization of the principles supporting those damages; and (d) a settlement demand. By August 24, 2017, defense counsel shall serve on Plaintiff's counsel a letter, with a copy to the Court by e-mail to the proposed text e-mail of the Magistrate Judge who is assigned to this case at that time, or by mail as long as the letter arrives by the deadline, that sets forth at least the following information: (a) any points in Plaintiff's letter with which the defense agrees; (b) any points in Plaintiff's letter with which the defense disagrees, with references to supporting evidence and legal principles; and (c) a settlement offer.

         At least 7 calendar days before the conference (by August 31, 2017), each party must provide the Court, in confidence, a concise letter of the case (typically no more than 4 pages), containing an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of that party's case. As should be apparent, this confidential letter must not be a mere restatement of the letter served on opposing counsel. All matters communicated in the confidential letter will be kept confidential, and will not be disclosed to any other party, or to the trial judge. The parties are to submit the statements by e-mail to the proposed text e-mail of the Magistrate Judge who is assigned to this case at that time, or by mail as long as the letter arrives by the deadline.

         Furthermore, if any party has in its possession any video or audio recordings of the incident upon which this action is based, that party must send the Court a copy of the recording at least 10 calendar days before the settlement conference.

         The purpose of the settlement conference is to facilitate settlement of this case, if that is appropriate. It will be conducted in such a manner as not to prejudice any party in the event settlement is not reached. To that end, all matters communicated to the Court in confidence will be kept confidential, and will not be disclosed to any other party, or to the trial judge. The Magistrate Judge conducting the settlement conference, of course, will not serve as the trial judge in this case. See D.N.M. LR-Civ. 16.2 (e).

         At the settlement conference, the parties, through counsel, may give a brief (five minute) presentation outlining the factual and legal highlights of their case. Then separate and confidential caucuses will be held with each party and the party's representative(s). Attached is a Settlement Conference Preparation outline for counsel to review with the parties prior to the settlement conference to help in preparing for the conference and to make the best use of the time allotted.

         The request for parties' personal appearance is intended to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the settlement conference, by reducing the time for communication of offers and expanding the ability to explore options for settlement. A request to be excused must be made in writing five calendar days before the conference. See D.N.M.LR-Civ. 16.2 (d).

         Vacating and re-setting of settlement conferences can disrupt the case management schedule and inconvenience the parties, counsel, third parties, and the Court. A request to vacate a settlement conference should be made AS SOON AS counsel or the parties become aware of the circumstances giving rise to the request. Requests to vacate settlement conferences must be made by written motion, and their approval by the court will require a showing of good cause.

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED as follows

Plaintiffs letter and settlement demand due to Defendant: August 17, 2017
Defendants' letter and counteroffer due to Plaintiff: August 24, 2017
Parties' confidential positions statements due to the Court: August 31, 2017 Settlement Conference: September ...

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