On January 26, 2010, Chief ALJ Paul J. Luckern issued a Notice To The Parties in Certain DC-DC Controllers and Products Containing the Same (Inv. No. 337-TA-698) attaching a new set of amended ground rules.  In the Order, ALJ Luckern stated that all amendments relate to ground rule 15 concerning settlement.

Amended ground rule 15 provides that “[t]he parties are urged to explore reasonable possibilities for settlement of all or any of the contested issues that could be the basis for a motion to terminate under Commission rule 210.21.”  Accordingly, he ordered that:

  • The parties must schedule three settlement conferences, in person, in the presence of a person who can authorize settlement.  Further, ALJ Luckern noted that he may order the parties to appear at the ITC for settlement discussions, for example, after the pre-hearing statements are filed and before the hearing commences.  In addition, he may require the private parties to submit settlement proposals and an agenda before the settlement discussions.

  • The parties may have to participate in the Mediation Program initiated by the Commission in November, 2008.  ALJ Luckern noted that “[i]f the Supervisory Attorney for Docket Services determines that the private parties should participate in the Mediation Program, the parties must attend any conference arranged by the mediator and comply with requests from the mediator,” such as briefing.  After a mediator is selected, the parties must comply with any request from the mediator.  Further, if the parties participate in mediation, the parties may move to waive participation in the three settlement conference noted above.  If mediation fails, however, the ALJ may order that the settlement conferences are rescheduled.

ALJ Luckern referred the parties to the Users’ Manual for the Commission Pilot Mediation Program available on the ITC website.  As described therein, mediation is confidential; no direct costs are charged to the parties, and; the substance of the mediation proceeding are not communicated to the ALJ, the ITC Staff, the Office of General Counsel, or the Commissioners. Notably, as also noted in the Users’ Manual, the ITC Staff is not to conduct, participate in, or have knowledge of the mediation proceedings, but may (consistent with current practice) review any settlement agreement that arises out of a successful mediation in order to make a recommendation to the ALJ as to whether the agreement is in the public interest.