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Cato v. Denning

United States District Court, E.D. California

January 3, 2020

JAMES CATO, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
M. DENNING, et al., Defendants.

          Before the Honorable Barbara A. McAuliffe, Judge

          ORDER REFERRING CASE TO POST-SCREENING ADR AND STAYING CASE FOR 60 DAYS

         Plaintiff James Cato, Jr. is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On December 20, 2019, Defendants Denning and Hillman filed an answer to Plaintiff's complaint. (ECF No. 18.)

         Because it takes years to get to trial, the Court has identified this case as an appropriate case for post-screening ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution), which is an effort to resolve such cases more expeditiously and less expensively. No. claims, defenses, or objections shall be waived by the parties' participation. In appropriate cases, defense counsel from the California State Attorney General's Office has agreed to participate in these early settlements.

         As set forth in the e-service order, Plaintiff has stated a cognizable civil rights claim. However, stating a cognizable claim does not mean that Plaintiff will prevail at trial. Thus, the Court stays this action for a period of 60 days to allow the parties to investigate Plaintiff's claims, meet and confer, and then participate in a settlement conference.

         Therefore, this case will be referred to Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe to conduct a settlement conference at the United States Courthouse in Fresno, California on February 27, 2020, at 9:30 a.m. The Court will issue the necessary transportation order in due course.

         In issuing this order, there is a presumption that this case will proceed to a settlement conference. However, if after investigating Plaintiff's claims and speaking with Plaintiff, and after conferring with others, defense counsel in good faith finds that a settlement conference would be a waste of resources, defense counsel may move to opt-out of this early settlement conference. A written notice to opt-out must be filed within twenty-one (21) days of the date of the issuance of this order.

         The parties shall each submit to Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe a confidential settlement conference statement, as described below, to arrive at least seven days (one week) prior to the conference.

         The Court puts the parties on notice that if Plaintiff has any outstanding criminal restitution obligation, fines and/or penalties, these settlement negotiations shall not be geared towards what the restitution obligation is, but what the value the of the case itself is to each side, irrespective of any outstanding restitution obligation.

         In accordance with the above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

         1. This action is STAYED for sixty (60) days to allow the parties an opportunity to settle their dispute before the discovery process begins. Except as provided herein or by subsequent court order, no other pleadings or other documents may be filed in this case during the stay of this action. The parties shall not engage in formal discovery, but may engage in informal discovery to prepare for the settlement conference.

         2. This case is set for a settlement conference before Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe on February 27, 2020, at 9:30 a.m., at the United States Courthouse located at 2500 Tulare Street, Fresno, California 93721.

         3. A representative with full and unlimited authority to negotiate and enter into a binding settlement shall attend in person.

         4. Those in attendance must be prepared to discuss the claims, defenses, and damages.

         The failure or refusal of any counsel, party or authorized person subject to this order to appear in person may result in the cancellation of the conference and the imposition of sanctions. The manner and timing of Plaintiff's ...


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