The Dispute Resolution Program
The El Dorado County Superior Court currently offers Alternative Dispute Resolution ("ADR") for all applicable civil cases. At the civil case management conference (CMC) election of an ADR process is discussed and encouraged. Many cases can be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties without the necessity of traditional litigation, which can be expensive, time consuming, and stressful. The court's goal is to make civil litigation more effective by reducing the delay in bringing difficult cases to trial, more efficient by reducing the cost to the public and the litigants, and to be more responsive to everyone's desire to resolve disputes early and fully.
We encourage you to read You Don’t Have to Sue, presented by the Judicial Council of California and the State Bar of California.
What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is the general term applied to a wide variety of dispute resolution processes which are alternatives to lawsuits. Types of ADR processes include dispute resolution conferences, arbitration, mediation, neutral evaluation, settlement conferences, private judging, and negotiation. All ADR processes offer a partial or complete alternative to traditional court litigation for resolving disputes.
What are the advantages of using ADR?ADR can have a number of advantages over traditional court litigation.
- ADR can save time. Even in a complex case, a dispute can be resolved through ADR in a matter of months or weeks, while a lawsuit can take years.
- ADR can save money. By producing earlier settlements, ADR can save parties and courts money that might otherwise be spent on litigation costs (attorneys fees and court expenses.)
- ADR provides more participation. Parties have more opportunity with ADR to express their own interests and concerns, while litigation focuses exclusively on the parties' legal rights and responsibilities.
- ADR provides more control and flexibility. Parties can choose the ADR process most appropriate for their particular situation and that will best serve their particular needs.
- ADR can reduce stress and provide greater satisfaction. ADR encourages cooperation and communication, while discouraging the adversarial atmosphere found in litigation. Surveys of disputants who have gone through ADR have found that satisfaction with ADR is generally high, especially among those with extensive ADR experience.
Dispute Resolution, Arbitration and Mediation
- Dispute Resolution Conferences (DRC): The DRC is the ADR procedure most often utilized in El Dorado County. It is an early settlement conference conducted by volunteer attorneys serving as temporary judges who provide independent assessments of the case and recommend resolutions. The parties and their attorneys must attend the Dispute Resolution Conference and prepare DRC Statements which explain their side of the case.
- Arbitration: An arbitrator hears evidence presented by the parties, makes legal rulings, determines facts and makes an arbitration award. Arbitration awards may be entered as judgments in accordance with the agreement of the parties or, where there is no agreement, in accordance with California statutes. Arbitrations can be binding or non-binding, as agreed by the parties in writing.
- Mediation: Mediation is a voluntary, informal, confidential process in which the mediator, a neutral third party, facilitates settlement negotiations. The mediator improves communication by and among the parties, helps parties clarify facts, identify legal issues, explore options and arrive at a mutually acceptable resolution of the dispute.
Litigants are encouraged to use an ADR process as early in the case as circumstances permit. All appropriate cases will be reviewed for referral to ADR at the Case Management Conference.
ADR Procedures for the El Dorado County Superior Court
- Upon filing a Complaint, the Plaintiff will receive an ADR Information Sheet from the Superior Court Clerk. Plaintiff is required to include the ADR Information Sheet when he or she serves the Complaint on the Defendant.
- All parties to the dispute may voluntarily agree to take the matter to an ADR process. Stipulation for this procedure is provided on-line. Parties choose and contact their own ADR provider. Panelist Lists are available on-line. (Click here for stipulation form and ADR panelist lists below)
- An initial Case Management Conference (“CMC”) will be scheduled within 120 days of the filing of the Complaint. A Case Management Conference Statement must be completed and provided to the court clerk no later than 15 calendar days prior to the scheduled conference. The El Dorado County Superior Court strongly encourages all parties and their counsel to consider and utilize ADR procedures.
- If the parties agree to ADR before the CMC and file the form Stipulation to Participate in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) the scheduled CMC will be vacated to allow for the ADR process to conclude within 90 days. In these cases, the CMC will be continued for case management/status review 90-100 days after the original CMC date. If the case is resolved through ADR, the status review date may be vacated if the court receives a dismissal or judgment.
- At the Case Management Conference the court will review all scheduled cases for their suitability for referral to ADR. The parties will be assigned a Dispute Resolution Conference date or the parties may elect mediation, private arbitration or judicial arbitration. Please review the Court’s ADR web page to know the subjects and procedures at the CMC. Attendance in person or by phone at both the CMC and the ADR conference is mandatory.
- Any mediation, private arbitration or judicial arbitration service shall be paid for by the parties pursuant to a separate ADR fee agreement.
- Local Court Rules require your cooperation in reporting the outcome of the ADR process. The court will expect a Dispute Resolution Conference Report form to be completed and submitted within 10 days of completion of the process.
- The El Dorado County Superior Court has special rules to assist in the resolution of certain kinds of cases. We believe that these rules encourage preparation and thereby enhance resolution. Please see Local Rules, rules 7.12.00 through 7.12.13 for full details.
Case Management Conference Policies
Introductory note: Case management conference ("CMC") is used by the court to expedite the movement of most civil cases through to an early resolution or trial. Counsel are expected to be thoroughly familiar with California Rules of Court (CRC) Rules 3.722 et seq., Local Rules 7.12.00 et seq.
A case management conference (CMC) will be set by the clerk at the time the complaint is filed, ordinarily 120 days after the filing. All cases, limited and unlimited, are required to participate in a CMC. Collection cases are managed pursuant to CRC Rules 3.740 and 3.741, and Local Rule 7.12.01. The Notice of Case Management Conference provided by the Clerk at the time the case is filed also describes the management orders and practice. (Uninsured motorist cases are governed by Local Rule 7.12.09 and are managed differently.)
The Case Management Statement must be filed 15 calendar days prior to the scheduled CMC and should fully address all of the issues set forth in the Judicial Council form CM 110 . Timely and complete Statements will facilitate the CMC and benefits the parties, counsel and the court. A failure to file a CMC Statement, or late filing, inconveniences the court.
Attendance at the CMC is required, personally or telephonically. An ADR conference, mandatory settlement conference, issues conference and trial date may be set at the first CMC.
At the Case Management Conference, the Superior court shall make all appropriate pretrial orders to ensure the proper preparation and timely disposition of the case including the following:
Recognizing that many civil disputes can be resolved without the time and expense of traditional civil litigation, the El Dorado County Superior Court strongly encourages parties in civil cases to explore and pursue the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution.
- Service and Default. The Court may set dates or otherwise address the methods by which service is to be accomplished or default taken.
- Dismiss Defendants, Except For Doe Defendants. The Court may dismiss defendants, except DOE defendants, who have not appeared and who have not been defaulted, unless the court, for good cause shown, sets dates by which such defendants shall be served or defaulted.
- Bifurcation, Severance, Consolidation. The Court may consolidate separately filed cases, for all or for limited purposes; or may order bifurcation, or severance of issues, causes of action or parties in a single case.
- Case Plans and Limited Civil Actions. The Court may classify or re-classify cases to an appropriate Case Management Plan and may assign or reassign cases as Limited Civil Actions or Unlimited Civil Actions.
- Mandatory Settlement Conferences, Issues Conferences and Trial Dates. The Court may schedule a Mandatory Settlement Conference, an Issues Conference, and the Trial date. The Court may schedule additional Settlement Conferences at the request of the parties or on its own motion.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution. The Court has initiated an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program which applies to all civil cases which are subject to these rules; provided, however, that on the joint request of the parties or on its own motion, the Court may order that the program apply to any civil case.
- Discovery. The Court may establish a plan regulating the timing and scope of discovery and the discovery proceedings. The Court may also establish a plan for managing documents, which are the product of discovery. The Court may also appoint a Discovery Officer to supervise discovery and to make such orders related to discovery as may be required to ensure the proper preparation and timely disposition of the case.
- Expert Witnesses. The Court may schedule the exchange of information relating to expert witnesses required pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure, section 2034, and the examination of expert witnesses.
- Law and Motion. The Court may schedule dates by which Law and Motion matters must be concluded.
- Such other orders to achieve the interests of justice and the timely disposition of the case.
Stipulation to ADR Process
All parties to the dispute may voluntarily agree to take the matter to an ADR process. Parties choose and contact their own ADR provider. Stipulation and Order to Participate in ADR and ADR panelist lists are available by selecting a link below.