Use of Mediation in Workers’ Compensation Cases
Filed in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City Saves
Time and Money for Court and Litigants
April 18, 2002
The Maryland Judiciary’s Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office (MACRO) has recently completed a study on the effects of mediation in workers’ compensation cases. This was a rigorous, scientific evaluation of the effect of mediation in these cases, conducted by the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research at UMBC.
Methodology and Conclusion
Over a 14-month period, 400 workers compensation cases filed in the Baltimore City Circuit Court were randomly assigned: 50 percent were assigned to a control group, and 50 percent were referred to mediation. The study examined the length of time all of the cases spent in the litigation process, revealing that cases referred to mediation were disposed of prior to the discovery deadline and mandatory pre-trial settlement conferences and prior to trial. There were also fewer notices of discovery filed among cases referred to mediation, indicating cost savings. The study revealed statistically significant differences between the two groups, supporting the conclusion that, at least in workers’ compensation cases, referring cases to mediation in the manner outlined in Title 17 of the Maryland Rules saves time and money for litigants and for the court.
Highlights of the Study
The most significant findings were as follows:
⇒ Approximately 25 percent of the cases in the mediation group were disposed of within four months, while only 12 percent in the control group were concluded during the same time frame.
⇒ About 43 percent of cases in the mediation group were disposed of prior to their scheduled settlement conference, compared to only 29 percent in the control group.
⇒ About 83 percent of cases in the mediation group were disposed of prior to their scheduled trial date, compared to only 70 percent in the control group.
⇒ Only 37 percent of cases in the mediation group had two or more notices of discovery, compared with 56 percent in the control group.
⇒The cases referred to mediation had a 46% agreement rate by the completion of the mediation, compared to only a 36% settlement rate in the control group.
⇒ A total of 202 cases were referred to mediation. Of these only 17 “opted out” of the process.
The length of time per case and the number of discovery motions filed are both indicators of money spent by litigants and court resources used. As such, the findings of this study show that mediation referrals offer cost saving opportunities for litigants and help conserve court resources.
For more information or a copy of the study, call MACRO at 410-841-2260