Early Neutral Evaluation
K.S.A. 5-502 (h) "neutral evaluation" means a proceeding conducted by a neutral person who helps facilitate settlement of a case by giving the parties to the dispute an evaluation of the case.
Neutral evaluation is a process in which a third party neutral examines the evidence and listens to the disputants' positions, and then gives the parties his or her evaluation of the case. In some cases, the neutral will begin negotiations in the presence of lawyers and their clients. The evaluator has no power to impose settlement and does not attempt to coerce a party to accept any proposed terms. The parties' formal discovery, disclosure and motion practice rights are fully preserved. The confidential evaluation is non-binding and is not shared with the trial judge. The parties may agree to a binding settlement. If no settlement is reached, the case remains on the litigation track.
The goals of Early Neutral Evaluation are to:
· Enhances direct communication between the parties about their claims and supporting evidence
· Provides an assessment of the merits of the case by a neutral expert
· Provides a "reality check" for clients and lawyers
· Identifies and clarifies the central issues in dispute
· Assists with discovery and motion planning or with an informal exchange of key information
· Facilitates settlement discussions.