United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division
ORDER AFFIRMING THE ORDER OF THE CHIEF MAGISTRATE
JUDGE AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST TO BE ASSIGNED A
L. PARKER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Plaintiff, Teresa Young, was not happy with the mediator
assigned to try to resolve this case. After the case did not
settle, she asked the court to appoint a different mediator.
(ECF No. 48.) The Chief Magistrate Judge considered
Young's request and denied it. (ECF No. 50.) Young now
appeals that order. (ECF No. 52.) For the reasons below, the
Court AFFIRMS the Order of the Chief
Magistrate Judge and DENIES Plaintiff's
request to assign a new mediator. The Court also
DENIES Plaintiff's request to receive a
specific date and time for mediation. Finally, the Court
CERTIFIES that any interlocutory appeal of
this order would not be taken in good faith and
DENIES any motion for leave to appeal in
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), the Court may designate a
magistrate judge to hear and determine any pretrial matter.
The Court may reconsider a pretrial determination made by a
magistrate judge “where it has been shown that the
magistrate judge's order is clearly erroneous or contrary
to law.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).
Plaintiff's Request for a New Mediator
Chief Magistrate Judge appointed Jerry Potter, a highly
regarded and experienced mediator, to serve as the
mediator here under § 6 of the United States
District Court for the Western District of Tennessee
Mediation Plan for Pro Se Civil Cases with Parties Granted In
Forma Pauperis Status (“Pro Se IFP Mediation
Plan”). Plaintiff requested that the Court appoint
a new mediator (ECF No. 48), which the Chief Magistrate Judge
denied (ECF No. 50). Plaintiff appealed that Order to this
Court, stating as grounds that the currently assigned
mediator does not have expertise in the subject matter of her
case. (ECF No. 52 at PageID 390.)
Court agrees with the Chief Magistrate Judge's Order
denying Plaintiff's request that the Court assign a new
mediator. Section 7 of the Court's Pro Se IFP Mediation
Plan provides that assigned mediators “may be
disqualified for bias and prejudice in regard to issues
and/or parties in a case.” It also provides:
[A]ny party who believes that the assigned Mediator has a
conflict of interest or exhibits bias or prejudice in a case
may file a motion requesting removal of the Mediator. . . .
This motion . . . must contain adequate documentation
describing the alleged conflict of interest or exhibited bias
7, Pro Se IFP Mediation Plan.
alleges no bias or prejudice by Jerry Potter that would
justify his removal as the mediator here. Plaintiff merely
states that his self-reported areas of expertise do not align
with the subject matter of her case. (ECF No. 52 at PageID
390.) Potter is a qualified mediator under § 5.2 of the
ADR Plan, and the Magistrate Court properly appointed him
from the Court's Mediation Panel under § 6 of the
Pro Se IFP Mediation Plan. Attorneys and mediators handle
varied cases involving many different subject areas and there
is no reason to believe Potter cannot mediate this employment
and disability discrimination case effectively.
Plaintiff's allegations that Potter does not have the
requisite knowledge to conduct mediation here are unfounded.
Plaintiff has therefore failed to state sufficient grounds to
recuse Jerry Potter as the mediator here.
Plaintiff's Request for the Time of Mediation
also “seeks to be informed of the time for mediation as
it was not included in the Mediation Memorandum.” (ECF
No. 52 at PageID 390.) The Magistrate Court here ordered that
the mediation take place “on or before December 17,
2019.” (ECF No. 44 at PageID 358 (emphasis in
original).) By providing a deadline several weeks in the
future, the Chief Magistrate Judge gave the parties
reasonable time to place the mediation on their schedules.
This is a reasonable approach, so long as the deadline
complies with the Scheduling Order. (ECF No. 43.) It is the
parties' responsibility to confer with each other and the
mediator to find a mutually agreeable date for mediation.
§ 5.5, ADR Plan.