In a last-ditch effort to determine whether a settlement can be reached in Jay Palmer’s whistleblower case against Infosys, which is scheduled to go to trial late next month, the federal judge hearing the case on Tuesday ordered that a mediation conference be convened on July 24 to try to resolve it.
U.S. District Court Judge Myron H. Thompson ordered counsel for both sides, or representatives with full authority to settle the case, to attend the conference. The two sides were directed to provide to the mediator, on or before July 23, confidential mediation statements that were not to be filed with the clerk’s office or to be served on each other.
On Tuesday night I spoke with Palmer’s attorney, Kenny Mendelsohn, who explained that mediation conferences are confidential. Judge Thompson will not be apprised of what transpires during the conference, so as not to be influenced by the proceedings if the case does go to trial. The mediator, U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles S. Coody, will simply inform Judge Thompson whether or not the parties settle.
The mediation statements, which are solely for Judge Coody’s use in preparing for the conference, are to include such information as an estimate of the costs of future litigation in the case, including the cost of trial and trial preparation; a history of the litigation and past settlement discussions; an explanation of each party’s claims or defenses, and a candid assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of those claims or defenses; a candid statement of the parties’ objectives in the litigation, and of any sensitive issues; and a candid assessment of any impediments to settlement.
The order for mediation came on the heels of a pre-trial meeting earlier in the day in which Mendelsohn and Jay St. Clair, the attorney representing Infosys, met with Judge Thompson to go over various administrative matters related to the case. Mendelsohn said it was the first face-to-face meeting that he and St. Clair had had with Judge Thompson to discuss the case.
Mendelsohn noted that the order for a mediation conference is a fairly standard procedure, and was not unexpected following the pre-trial meeting. At the same time, he made it clear that he’s making no assumptions about the prospects for settling the case.
“My plan is to keep working on it as I have been. There are a lot of things that need to be done, such as identifying exhibits and witnesses,” Mendelsohn said. “I’m plowing ahead. I’m preparing the case for trial.”
I asked Mendelsohn how Palmer is holding up.
"He seems to be doing OK," Mendelsohn said. "He has ups and downs still; he’s still having to deal with all of this. But I think he’s doing OK."