VISTA — In September, North County Lifeline, Inc. began providing small claims mediation services five days per week at the Vista courthouse. Previously, small claims mediation services were only available three days per week. Small claims mediation involves litigants attempting to reach a mutually agreed upon resolution to their case before trial. Working with a trained mediator in a nonthreatening atmosphere, litigants strive to reach a fair and informed decision that they both can live with.
“It’s a win-win for everyone involved,” Don Stump, executive director of North County Lifeline, said. “Utilizing mediation to help parties resolve their own conflicts is a central part of Lifeline’s approach to working with youth and families in the community to achieve positive change.”
Commissioner Ernest Gross of San Diego Superior Court’s North County Division agrees. “In my experience, the litigants benefit from mediation, with or without an agreement,” Gross said. “They control their destinies if they resolve their differences. This is the main reason most mediated cases settle before trial. If not, the parties are better prepared for trial having previously explained their position and listened to their opponent’s perspective.”
Small claims mediation services are available Monday through Friday for small claims cases on the court’s trial calendar. However, North County Lifeline, Inc. can also assist on issues where there is not yet a court case. Lifeline has been serving the residents of North County for 39 years. The agency has more than 40 programs designed to develop resilience in youth, nurture family strengths, and build partnerships to solve community problems. Community members interested in learning more about Lifeline and these expanded mediation services can call the Lifeline Dispute Resolution Program Supervisor, Karen Thompson, at (760) 726-4900, ext. 221.