Rule 2.410 Alternative Dispute Resolution

(A) Scope and Applicability of Rule; Definitions.

(1) All civil cases are subject to alternative dispute resolution processes unless otherwise provided by statute or court rule.

(2) For the purposes of this rule, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) means any process designed to resolve a legal dispute in the place of court adjudication, and includes settlement conferences ordered under MCR 2.401; case evaluation under MCR 2.403; mediation under MCR 2.411; domestic relations mediation under MCR 3.216; and other procedures provided by local court rule or ordered on stipulation of the parties.

(B) ADR Plan.

(1) Each trial court that submits cases to ADR processes under this rule shall adopt an ADR plan by local administrative order. The plan must be in writing and available to the public in the ADR clerk's office.

(2) At a minimum, the ADR plan must:

(a) designate an ADR clerk, who may be the clerk of the court, the court administrator, the assignment clerk, or some other person;

(b) if the court refers cases to mediation under MCR 2.411, specify how the list of persons available to serve as mediators will be maintained and the system by which mediators will be assigned from the list under MCR 2.411(B)(3);

(c) include provisions for disseminating information about the operation of the court's ADR program to litigants and the public; and

(d) specify how access to ADR processes will be provided for indigent persons. If a party qualifies for waiver of filing fees under MCR 2.002 or the court determines on other grounds that the party is unable to pay the full cost of an ADR provider's services, and free or low-cost dispute resolution services are not available, the court shall not order that party to participate in an ADR process.

(3) The plan may also provide for referral relationships with local dispute resolution centers, including those affiliated with the Community Dispute Resolution Program. In establishing a referral relationship with centers or programs, courts, at a minimum, shall take into consideration factors that include whether parties are represented by counsel, the number and complexity of issues in dispute, the jurisdictional amount of the cases to be referred, and the ability of the parties to pay for dispute resolution services. The plan must preserve the right of parties to stipulate to the selection of their own mediator under MCR 2.411(B)(1).

(4) Courts in adjoining circuits or districts may jointly adopt and administer an ADR plan.

(C) Order for ADR.

(1) At any time, after consultation with the parties, the court may order that a case be submitted to an appropriate ADR process. More than one such order may be entered in a case.

(2) Unless the specific rule under which the case is referred provides otherwise, in addition to other provisions the court considers appropriate, the order shall

(a) specify, or make provision for selection of, the ADR provider;

(b) provide time limits for initiation and completion of the ADR process; and

(c) make provision for the payment of the ADR provider.

(3) The order may require attendance at ADR proceedings as provided in subrule (D).

(D) Attendance at ADR Proceedings.

(1) Appearance of Counsel. The attorneys attending an ADR proceeding shall be thoroughly familiar with the case and have the authority necessary to fully participate in the proceeding. The court may direct that the attorneys who intend to try the case attend ADR proceedings.

(2) Presence of Parties. The court may direct that the parties to the action, agents of parties, representatives of lienholders, representatives of insurance carriers, or other persons:

(a) be present at the ADR proceeding or be immediately available at the time of the proceeding; and

(b) have information and authority adequate for responsible and effective participation in the conference for all purposes, including settlement.

The court's order may specify whether the availability is to be in person or by telephone.

(3) Failure to Attend.

(a) Failure of a party or the party's attorney or other representative to attend a scheduled ADR proceeding, as directed by the court, may constitute a default to which MCR 2.603 is applicable or a ground for dismissal under MCR 2.504(B).

(b) The court shall excuse a failure to attend an ADR proceeding, and shall enter a just order other than one of default or dismissal, if the court finds that

(i) entry of an order of default or dismissal would cause manifest injustice; or

(ii) the failure to attend was not due to the culpable negligence of the party or the party's attorney.

The court may condition the order on the payment by the offending party or attorney of reasonable expenses as provided in MCR 2.313(B)(2).

(E) Objections to ADR. Within 14 days after entry of an order referring a case to an ADR process, a party may move to set aside or modify the order. A timely motion must be decided before the case is submitted to the ADR process.

(F) Supervision of ADR Plan. The chief judge shall exercise general supervision over the implementation of this rule and shall review the operation of the court's ADR plan at least annually to assure compliance with this rule. In the event of noncompliance, the court shall take such action as is needed. This action may include recruiting persons to serve as ADR providers or changing the court's ADR plan.