Let’s Do Lunch—The Court So Orders

judge orders lawyers to do lunchIn an Arizona case, the plaintiff’s lawyer asked the defendant’s lawyer to go to lunch to discuss some pending issues. Defense counsel refused, so the plaintiff did what anyone would do when they get rejected for a lunch date: file a “Motion to Compel Acceptance of Lunch Invitation.”

Here’s what Judge Pendelton Gaines, Superior Court of Maricopa County, Arizona, had to say in granting the unusual motion:

Conversation has been called “the socializing instrument par excellence” (Jose Ortega y Gasset, Invertebrate Spain) and “one of the greatest pleasures in life” (Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence). John Dryden referred to “Sweet discourse, the banquet of the mind” (The Flower and the Leaf).

Plaintiff’s counsel extended a lunch invitation to Defendant’s counsel “to have a discussion regarding discovery and other matters.” Plaintiff’s counsel offered to “pay for lunch.” Defendant’s counsel failed to respond until the motion was filed.

Defendant’s counsel distrusts Plaintiff’s counsel’s motives and fears that Plaintiff’s counsel’s purpose is to persuade Defendant’s counsel of the lack of merit in the defense case. The Court has no doubt of Defendant’s counsel’s ability to withstand Plaintiff’s counsel’s blandishments and to respond sally for sally and barb for barb. Defendant’s counsel now makes what may be an illusory acceptance of Plaintiff’s counsel’s invitation by saying, “We would love to have lunch at Ruth’s Chris with/on . . .” Plaintiff’s counsel.[fn1]

[fn1] Everyone knows that Ruth’s Chris, while open for dinner, is not open for lunch. This is a matter of which the Court may take judicial notice.

Plaintiff’s counsel replies somewhat petulantly, criticizing Defendant’s counsel’s acceptance of the lunch invitation on the grounds that Defendant’s counsel is “now attempting to choose the location” and saying that he “will oblige,” but Defendant’s counsel “will pay for its own meal.”

There are a number of fine restaurants within easy driving distance of both counsel’s offices, e.g., [court lists fine restaurants in the Phoenix area]. Counsel may select their own venue or, if unable to agree, shall select from this list in order.

Each side may be represented by no more than two (2) lawyers of its own choosing, but the principal counsel on the pending motions must personally appear.

The cost of the lunch will be paid as follows: Total cost will be calculated by the amount of the bill including appetizers, salads, entrees and one non-alcoholic beverage per participant.[fn3]

[fn3] Alcoholic beverages may be consumed, but at the personal expense of the consumer.

[McClurg note: Alcohol and feuding lawyers? Bad idea, judge.]

A twenty percent (20%) tip will be added to the bill (which will include tax). Each side will pay its pro rata share according to number of participants. The Court may reapportion the cost on application for good cause or may treat it as a taxable cost under ARS § 12-331(5).

During lunch, counsel will confer regarding [various matters in the case]. [fn4]

[fn4] The Court suggests that serious discussion occur after counsel have eaten. The temperaments of the Court’s children always improved after a meal.

Then the judge gave the parties something to chew on by proceeding in the same order to strike the plaintiff’s proposed amended complaint.

Rulings on Pending Motions, Physicians Choice of Arizona, Inc. v. Miller, Case No. CV2003-020242 (Ariz. Super. Ct. July 21, 2006). Thanks to Robert Greer.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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