IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS EASTERN DIVISION
April 14, 2010
NANCY TARTT, PLAINTIFF,
HURON CONSULTING GROUP, INC., DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Milton I. Shadur Senior United States District Judge
Later on the same day that a preset status hearing had produced a particularly contentious wrangle between counsel for the parties, one of the disputants--plaintiff Nancy Tartt's lawyer--delivered to this Court's chambers a notice of motion seeking a reference to Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez for a settlement conference (or alternatively asking that this Court convene such a conference). Counsel's stated reason for the motion is that "Plaintiff Tartt believes that there is a likelihood that all issues can be resolved in a settlement conference." This memorandum is issued sua sponte in advance of the projected April 20 presentment date because that reason is obviously flawed as framed.
For one side to a lawsuit, rather than both sides, to seek a settlement conference is really the equivalent of the sound of one hand clapping. This Court will never set a settlement conference for its own participation unless both sides have given assurances that they are engaged in a dialog about possible resolution short of trial, although there is some distance between them as to the basis for disposition. Nor will this Court inflict a burden on a Magistrate Judge in those terms that it would be unwilling to undertake for itself. It may be that plaintiff's counsel has simply misspoken in that respect, in which event this Court will entertain the motion--but if such is not the case, counsel should simply withdraw the motion as ill-considered.
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