There are several types of case evaluations. In the typical case evaluation, both sides present summaries of their cases and a neutral case evaluator gives either a written or verbal assessment of each side’s position and an approximate value. This opinion is non-binding and meant to assist the parties in reaching a settlement on their own. Case evaluations can be ‘customized” to fit the needs of a particular matter.
One option is to present the case as in arbitration, with witnesses and cross-examination. This allows the parties to present their case in a formal setting. Usually the decision is in writing. The advantage of case evaluation over formal arbitration is that the parties are not bound by the decision. They are free to decide on whatever resolution works for them.
Another option is to present the case more like in a mediation. The case evaluator will hear presentations by both sides and then meet with the parties privately to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their relative positions. A case evaluator may be asked to issue a written decision or merely discuss the merits of the case with the parties. Often in this setting, an evaluator’s opinion may focus on a “settlement range” as opposed to an absolute number.
It is also possible to utilize a case evaluator to analyze a matter for only one party. In this situation, a case evaluator is asked to look over a case solely for the benefit of one side or the other. The case evaluator would meet privately with a party to discuss strategies and possible outcomes. This option is usually used to achieve the perspective of a neutral third-party in preparing for trial or a major dispositive motion.