Lawyers volunteer time to resolve cases for Settlement Week

Local attorneys will be volunteering their time and expertise all this week in Lake County Common Pleas Court to try and resolve as many pending civil cases as possible.

For the third year in a row, Reminger Co., LPA in Cleveland has organized Settlement Week.

Before that, Painesville firm Dworken & Bernstein headed it up.

"The overall objective of Settlement Week is to make a concentrated effort to identify cases that are right for settlement, and to try and encourage settlement among the parties," Reminger attorney Chetan S. Patil said. "For the vast majority, the four judges take the lead on which cases are right for settlement, and about 5 percent may be volunteered by the case parties."

During the last three months, Reminger has been organizing lawyer volunteers from their firm and attorneys who heard about the program from the Lake County Bar Association. About three weeks before the event, they lined up cases to be mediated.

"We ensure there are no conflicts between the case parties and the mediators," Patil said.

There will be four mediation sessions a day, all week long.

Last year, there was an increase in the caseload and a decrease in attorney volunteers. But of 73 mediated cases, 44 settled or were dismissed -- a 60 percent success rate and an improvement over 2010, according to Reminger's statistics.

This year, there are about 40 lawyer volunteers and about 55 cases set for mediation.

"So this is shaping up to be another strong year for us," Patil said.

"We are hoping we can at least match that 60 percent number."

Another Reminger attorney, Russell J. Meraglio Jr., said the program was started to help clients resolve their cases as quickly as possible.

"Even if it doesn't settle, it does bring the case closer to resolution," Meraglio said.

Judge Vincent A. Culotta called Settlement Week a great service the bar provides for the court.

"Any time parties can settle their disputes -- especially without court intervention -- is good for everybody," Culotta said.

"It saves time, money and judicial resources. I think I can speak on behalf of all the judges here that we're very grateful for the members of the bar who volunteer their time for this effort."

Patil said there is no more efficient way to try and resolve a case than a program like Settlement Week.

"It clears the court's docket and allows them to work more efficiently," he added. "This is a win-win for everyone involved."

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