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Arbitration

Civil Cases Referred To Arbitration

Definition
In a county where an arbitration program is established, all civil actions for a sum of money only that are set for trial in a City Court where recovery sought for each case is $6,000 or less, exclusive of costs or interest, shall be heard and decided by a panel of arbitrators. The arbitrators shall also have jurisdiction of any counter-claim or cross-claim for a sum of money only that has also been filed.

Procedure
The arbitration chairperson shall fix a hearing date and time, not less than 15 nor more than 30 days after the case is assigned, and shall give written notice to the members of the panel and the parties or their counsel at least 10 days before the date set. The Commissioner may, on good cause shown, extend for a reasonable period of time within which the hearing shall be commenced. Such date and time shall not be a Saturday, Sunday, legal holiday or during evening hours except by agreement of the panel, parties and counsel. Adjournments may be granted at the discretion of the chairperson only upon good cause shown.

The arbitration panel shall conduct the hearing with due regard to the law and established rules of evidence and shall have the general powers of a court; including subpoenaing of witnesses, books, papers, documents and other items of evidence; administering oaths, determining the admissibility of evidence; and deciding questions of law and facts in the actions submitted to them.

When a party fails to appear at the hearing, the arbitrator(s) shall nonetheless proceed with the hearing and shall make an award and decision as may be just and proper under the facts and circumstances of the action. The default judgment and award may be vacated and the case restored to the arbitration calendar only by order of the court upon good cause shown.

Should all parties fail to appear at the hearing, the arbitrator(s) must file a report dismissing the action. The action may be restored to the arbitration calendar only by order of the court upon good cause shown.

Award
The award shall be signed by the panel or arbitrators and the chairperson shall file a report and the award with the commissioner within 20 days after the hearing, and mail or deliver copies to the parties or their attorneys. The original will be filed with the clerk of the court where the action was commenced and notification will be made to the parties of such filing.

Unless a demand is made for a trial de novo by mail within 35 days or the award is vacated, the award shall be final and judgment shall be entered by the clerk of the court where the action was commenced, with costs and disbursements in accordance with the law.

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