Section 44.102, Florida Statutes 2003
44.102 Court-ordered mediation.--
(1) Court-ordered mediation shall be conducted according to rules of practice and procedure adopted by the Supreme Court.
(2) A court, under rules adopted by the Supreme Court:
(a) Must, upon request of one party, refer to mediation any filed civil action for monetary damages, provided the requesting party is willing and able to pay the costs of the mediation or the costs can be equitably divided between the parties, unless:
1. The action is a landlord and tenant dispute that does not include a claim for personal injury.
2. The action is filed for the purpose of collecting a debt.
3. The action is a claim of medical malpractice.
4. The action is governed by the Florida Small Claims Rules.
5. The court determines that the action is proper for referral to nonbinding arbitration under this chapter.
6. The parties have agreed to binding arbitration.
7. The parties have agreed to an expedited trial pursuant to s. 45.075.
8. The parties have agreed to voluntary trial resolution pursuant to s. 44.104.
(b) May refer to mediation all or any part of a filed civil action for which mediation is not required under this section.
(c) In circuits in which a family mediation program has been established and upon a court finding of a dispute, shall refer to mediation all or part of custody, visitation, or other parental responsibility issues as defined in s. 61.13. Upon motion or request of a party, a court shall not refer any case to mediation if it finds there has been a history of domestic violence that would compromise the mediation process.
(d) In circuits in which a dependency or in need of services mediation program has been established, may refer to mediation all or any portion of a matter relating to dependency or to a child in need of services or a family in need of services.
(3) Each party involved in a court-ordered mediation proceeding has a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent any person present at the proceeding from disclosing, communications made during such proceeding. All oral or written communications in a mediation proceeding, other than an executed settlement agreement, shall be exempt from the requirements of chapter 119 and shall be confidential and inadmissible as evidence in any subsequent legal proceeding, unless all parties agree otherwise.
(4) There shall be no privilege and no restriction on any disclosure of communications made confidential in subsection (3) in relation to disciplinary proceedings filed against mediators pursuant to s. 44.106 and court rules, to the extent the communication is used for the purposes of such proceedings. In such cases, the disclosure of an otherwise privileged communication shall be used only for the internal use of the body conducting the investigation. Prior to the release of any disciplinary files to the public, all references to otherwise privileged communications shall be deleted from the record. When an otherwise confidential communication is used in a mediator disciplinary proceeding, such communication shall be inadmissible as evidence in any subsequent legal proceeding. "Subsequent legal proceeding" means any legal proceeding between the parties to the mediation which follows the court-ordered mediation.
(5) The chief judge of each judicial circuit shall maintain a list of mediators who have been certified by the Supreme Court and who have registered for appointment in that circuit.
(a) Whenever possible, qualified individuals who have volunteered their time to serve as mediators shall be appointed. If a mediation program is funded pursuant to s. 44.108, volunteer mediators shall be entitled to reimbursement pursuant to s. 112.061 for all actual expenses necessitated by service as a mediator.
(b) Nonvolunteer mediators shall be compensated according to rules adopted by the Supreme Court. If a mediation program is funded pursuant to s. 44.108, a mediator may be compensated by the county or by the parties. When a party has been declared indigent or insolvent, that party's pro rata share of a mediator's compensation shall be paid by the county at the rate set by administrative order of the chief judge of the circuit.
(6)(a) When an action is referred to mediation by court order, the time periods for responding to an offer of settlement pursuant to s. 45.061, or to an offer or demand for judgment pursuant to s. 768.79, respectively, shall be tolled until:
1. An impasse has been declared by the mediator; or
2. The mediator has reported to the court that no agreement was reached.
(b) Sections 45.061 and 768.79 notwithstanding, an offer of settlement or an offer or demand for judgment may be made at any time after an impasse has been declared by the mediator, or the mediator has reported that no agreement was reached. An offer is deemed rejected as of commencement of trial.
History.--s. 2, ch. 87-173; s. 2, ch. 89-31; s. 2, ch. 90-188; s. 2, ch. 93-161; s. 10, ch. 94-134; s. 10, ch. 94-135; s. 44, ch. 94-164; s. 18, ch. 96-406; s. 2, ch. 97-155; s. 2, ch. 99-225; s. 2, ch. 2002-65.
Note.--Former s. 44.302.