Judge orders lawyers to play game
Acrimonious attorneys told to settle dispute by playing a round of 'rock, paper, scissors.'
By Roger Parloff, FORTUNE senior writer

NEW YORK (FORTUNE) - Faced with the inability of two bickering attorneys to resolve even the most innocuous scheduling questions without his intervention, a Florida federal judge yesterday ordered the two to meet on the steps of the federal courthouse and resolve their latest quarrel by playing "one (1) game of 'rock, paper, scissors.' " (Read the ruling.)

Judge Gregory A. Presnell of Orlando ordered the unusual measure, which he characterized as "a new form of alternative dispute resolution," after the two Tampa attorneys had proven unable to agree upon where to hold a deposition, even though both of their offices are just four floors away in the very same building in Tampa.

Defense attorney D. Lee Craig, of Butler Pappas Weihmuller Katz Craig, proposed holding the deposition in his office, but plaintiffs' attorney David J. Pettinato of Merlin Law Group wanted it to take place at the court reporter's office down the street.

The Solomonic ruling comes in an insurance dispute filed last September by Avista Management against Wausau Underwriters Insurance Co.

Characterizing the disagreement as "the latest in a series of Gordian knots that the parties have been unable to untangle without enlisting the assistance of the federal courts," Judge Presnell ordered each attorney, "accompanied by one paralegal who shall act as an attendant and witness," to play the dispositive round of RPS on June 30.

"The winner of this engagement shall be entitled to select the location of the . . . deposition," he ruled, so long as it was within Hillsborough County.

In an interview, plaintiff's lawyer Pettinato says, "I'm going to comply with the court's order to the letter." Defense lawyer Craig did not respond to a phone message, while Judge Presnell, 63, who was appointed to the bench by President Bill Clinton in 2000, declined comment. Top of page

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