Athens Review, Athens, Texas

January 31, 2014

Court orders mediation

AMWA and City of Athens to discuss issue

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — The 12th Court of Appeals in Tyler has ordered the parties in the suit involving the Athens Municipal Water Authority and the City of Athens to mediation.

AMWA filed the suit on Dec. 10, claiming the city had wrongfully charged the AMWA with bills the municipality had been obligated to pay.  The discrepancies occurred, both during the terms of a 1991 agreement between the entities, and the new agreement that went into effect in July 2011, according to the suit.

An order was issued on Tuesday from the appeals court clerk Cathy S. Lusk that the mediation take place. The court has appointed Andy Tindel of Tyler as the mediator. Within seven days of receiving the order, the lead attorneys, Martin Bennett for AMWA and Amy Emerson for the city, are instructed to either schedule mediation with Tindel, or agree upon another mediator. The court instructs the parties to produce all information that the mediator deems necessary to understand the issues of the case.

According to the court, the mediator is responsible for seeing that the talks are scheduled at a time no later than six weeks after receiving the order.  After the mediation is complete, the court is to be informed as to whether the mediation resolved the issue.  If the parties need more time to reach an agreement, they can file a motion for an extension.

The mediation is a “mandatory, non-binding settlement conference conducted with the assistance of the mediator.  The proceedings will be confidential, as prescribed in the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code.“

According to the code, during mediation, the parties generally communicate directly.  The role of the mediator is to facilitate communication between the parties, help them focus on the real issues of the dispute and generate options for settlement. A mediator may not impose the mediator’s judgment on the issues for that of the parties.