Previously I blogged about the fact that cases have a life of their own and will only settle when both parties are ready.  As I was trying to settle a case today that is scheduled to start trial in Morris County next week, I was reminded of a related issue.

In this case, we have had a hard time getting the other side to negotiate.  They have taken a position that we don’t think is reasonable nor supported by the facts or the law.  That said, we have made proposals to try to resolve the case.  In fact, at each time we have been required to negotiate (at the Early Settlement Panel, mandatory economic mediation (several sessions) and at an Intensive Settlement Conference), we have made proposals.  In some ways, it was against my normal practice to not bid against myself, but the client wanted to at least try to stir some movement. 

At each point, rather than provide a counter proposal, the other side has tried to wow us with, to put it nicely, "fuzzy math" in order to justify why they are right and we are wrong.  They have never, however, moved off of their proposal on support in any significant way. 

I finally had to tell the opposing counsel to just give me a number without the explanation or argument because I wasn’t going to buy their theory, ever, and the theory didn’t make a difference if the number was acceptable.

In fact, this is not unusual when trying to settle matters.  That is, sometimes the theories and explanations will bog things down.  The bottom line is that if  the parties agree on the number or a certain resolution of a non-financial issue, in many instances, it matters not at all how or why you got to that number.  In fact, the explanation may just start the argument again. 

Sometimes, it is more important to just give a number than explain how you got there.  If the number is fair and within the realm of reason, and the parties can live with it, it is sometimes better to be settled then win the debate which may only prove more costly.

3 Responses to Can You Just Give Me a Number?!?

In response to Steven’s comment, my client knows how we got to our number/proposal. The point of my article was that sometimes, two people will be able to come to a mutually agreeable number, but if they had to debate the other side’s rationale for their number, the settlement talks may get off the track.

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