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Civil Procedure: Compulsory Arbitration Award Not Final Judgment

Posted by Ted A. Schmidt | Jun 15, 2016 | 0 Comments

Southwest Barricades v. Traffic Mgmt, Inc., 740 Ariz. Adv. Rep. 5 (App. Div. I, June 9, 2016) (J. Gemmill)

COMPULSORY ARBITRATION AWARD IS NOT SELF-EXECUTING JUDGMENT—PARTY MUST ASK SUPERIOR COURT TO ENTER FINAL JUDGMENT BEFORE SEEKING RULE 60 (c) RELIEF

Plaintiff sued for breach of contract over damage to an attenuator truck. The amount in controversy was within the Compulsory Arbitration limits. The arbitrator awarded plaintiff damages and attorneys' fees. Defendant miscalculated the deadline to appeal the judgment. The superior court dismissed the notice of appeal as untimely and plaintiff then sought relief under rule 60 (c) which the superior court granted.  Following a jury trial the plaintiff appeals the granting of relief under rule 60 (c). The Arizona Court of Appeals vacated and remanded.

Relief under Rule 60 (c) can only be obtained from a final judgment.  An arbitration award is not a final judgment.  Arizona courts interpreting Rule 76(c) note that the rules "contemplate three steps leading to a judgment: the arbitrator's notice of decision; the arbitrator's award or other final disposition; and the superior court's entry of judgment."

Here, neither party ever asked the superior court to enter judgment, so there was no final judgment from which to seek relief under Rule 60 (c).

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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