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Arbitration/Appeal—Amended Arbitration Award Post Appeal Deadline

Posted by Ted A. Schmidt | Aug 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

Klesla v. Wittenberg, 745 Ariz. Adv. Rep. 14 (App. Div. I, August 18, 2016) (J. Thompson)

ARBITRATOR LACKS JURISDICTION TO ISSUE “SUPPLEMENTAL ARBITRATION AWARD” (TO ADD FEES) AFTER DEADLINE TO APPEAL AWARD HAS RUN

In this compulsory arbitration involving a landlord/tenant dispute the arbitrator issued an Arbitration Award in early December 2013. The award found in favor of the Plaintiff/Tenant for $10,000 and awarded $904 to the landlord on his counterclaim; there was no award of costs or fees. The time to appeal the award ran in late December 2013.

Thereafter the plaintiff asked the arbitrator to issue a “Notice of Decision” in place of the Arbitration Award already entered and asked the arbitrator to consider awarding costs and attorneys' fees.  After briefing the arbitrator issued an “Amended Arbitration Award” purporting to award the tenant $10,000 plus interest, $8,820 in attorneys' fees and $758 in costs. The landlord was awarded $904 plus interest.

Plaintiff then attempted to convert the Amended Arbitration Award into a Judgment in Superior Court.  The trial court denied the motion but allowed additional time for plaintiff to move to convert the December 2013 award into a judgment. Plaintiff then filed a “Motion for Judgment on Amended Award of Arbitrator” again seeking the original award plus the fees and costs. The trial court denied the motion and the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed.

Once an Arbitration Award is issued, the time for appeal begins to run. A failure to have the award amended before the appeal time runs divests the arbitrator of jurisdiction to amend it. Here the failure of plaintiff to ever seek a judgment for only the amount of the original and final arbitration award resulted in the plaintiff receiving no judgment at all.

About the Author

Ted A. Schmidt

Ted's early career as a trial attorney began on the other side of the fence, in the offices of a major insurance defense firm. It was there that Ted acquired the experience, the skills and the special insight into defense strategy that have served him so well in the field of personal injury law. Notable among his successful verdicts was the landmark Sparks vs. Republic National Life Insurance Company case, a $4.5 million award to Ted's client. To this day, it is the defining case for insurance bad faith, and yet it is only one of several other multi-million dollar jury judgments won by Ted during his career. He is certified by the State Bar of Arizona as a specialist in "wrongful death and bodily injury litigation".

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