United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Richard Caputo United States District Judge.
before me is Defendant Robert J. Powell's motion for a
special mediation procedure, (Doc. 82), which would permit
Plaintiffs to share completed settlement agreements with the
mediator,  and permit the mediator to share those
agreements with Mr. Powell and his counsel during mediation,
subject to strict confidentiality requirements for the sole
purpose of facilitating mediation.
their Amended Complaint (Doc. 47), Plaintiffs allege two
counts for conspiracy to violate civil rights against Mr.
Powell and thirteen other defendants, including: Mark A.
Ciavarella, Jr. and Michael T. Conahan (the "Judge
Defendants"), the County Of Luzerne, Greg Skrepenak,
Todd Vonderheid, Sam Guesto, Sandra Brulo, and Luzerne County
Department Of Juvenile Probation, (the "Government
Defendants"), Robert Mericle and Mericle Construction,
Inc., (the "Mericle Defendants"), and PA Child
Care, LLC, Western PA Child Care, LLC, and Mid-Atlantic Child
Youth Services, Inc. (the "Provider Defendants").
least two sets of settling defendants -- the Mericle
Defendants and the Provider Defendants - have previously
settled with Plaintiffs for undisclosed amounts pursuant to
confidential settlement agreements. (Doc. 82, ¶ 3). Mr.
Powell now claims that he is unable to value his exposure in
this case without knowing the terms and compensation amounts
of the settlement agreements with the settling defendants,
including the Mericle and Provider Defendants, in light of
unknown apportionment, contribution, and indemnity issues.
(Id. ¶5).Mr. Powell argues that if this matter
proceeded to trial, he would assert a right to learn the
terms of these settlement agreements and that the Court may
be required to disclose such terms in some fashion so that
issues related to apportionment, contribution, and
indemnification could be meaningfully addressed before trial.
Thus, he argues, at this time, mediation cannot meaningfully
progress without the disclosure.
join in Mr. Powell's motion to allow the settlement
values to be provided to Judge Vanaskie for purposes of
mediation and to allow Judge Vanaskie to share them with Mr.
Powell. (Doc. 83). The only objecting party are the Provider
Defendants. (Doc. 84). While they do not object to Plaintiffs
providing the settlement values to Judge Vanaskie, they do
object to Judge Vanaskie providing the values to Mr. Powell.
(Id. at 1).
I note the dearth of caselaw on the subject of mediation
procedures. The Court's Local Rules, the applicable
statutes, and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure also do
not address the topic. However, the Supreme Court has
acknowledged that the provisions of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure are not intended to be the exclusive
authority for actions to be taken by district courts.
Link v. Wabash R.R., 370 U.S. 626, 82 S.Ct. 1386
(1962). A district court's ability to take action in a
procedural context may be grounded in "'inherent
power, ' governed not by rule or statute but by the
control necessarily vested in courts to manage their own
affairs so as to achieve the orderly and expeditious
disposition of cases." Link, 370 U.S. at
630-31, 82 S.Ct. 1386 (footnotes omitted). The Supreme Court
has long held that "the inherent powers of federal
courts are those which 'are necessary to the exercise of
all others.'" G. Heileman Brewing Co., Inc. v.
Joseph Oat Corp., 871 F.2d 648, 651-52 (7th Cir. 1989)
(en banc)] Roadway Express, Inc. v. Piper, 447 U.S.
752, 764, 100 S.Ct. 2455 (1980) (quoting United States v.
Hudson & Goodwin, 7 Cranch 32, 34, 11 U.S. 32
the scope of a district court's inherent powers appears
broad, it is actually quite limited.
There are at least four limiting principles. First, inherent
powers must be used in a way reasonably suited to the
enhancement of the court's processes, including the
orderly and expeditious disposition of pending cases.
Coyante v. P.R. Ports Auth., 105 F.3d 17, 23 (1st
Cir. 1997). Second, inherent powers cannot be exercised in a
manner that contradicts an applicable statute or rule.
Chambers v. NASCO, 501 U.S. 32, 47, 111 S.Ct. 2123,
115 L.Ed.2d 27 (1991). Third, the use of inherent powers must
comport with procedural fairness. Id. at 50, 111
S.Ct. 2123. And, finally, inherent powers "must be
exercised with restraint and discretion." Id.
at 44, 111 S.Ct. 2123.
In re Atlantic Pipe Corp., 304 F.3d 135, 143 (1st
instant matter, because I find that this Court does have the
inherent power to specify the relevant mediation procedures,
NOW, this 16th day of August,
2017, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED
Plaintiffs may disclose the full settlement agreements with
all settling defendants, including the Mericle and Provider
Defendants, to Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie within the context of
Judge Vanaskie is permitted to disclose to Mr. Powell and his
counsel, within the confines of the mediation procedure, the
full settlement agreements with all settling defendants,
including the Mericle and Provider Defendants.
Should Judge Vanaskie decide to disclose the full settlement
agreements, Mr. Powell and his counsel are ordered to make no
copies of the settlement agreements and are prohibited by
this order from disclosing the terms of the settlement
agreements in any context other ...