L1306

Chapter II

COMPULSORY ARBITRATION

Rule L1301 ARBITRATION – SCOPE
All cases where the amount in controversy does not exceed Twenty-five Thousand ($25,000.00) Dollars, excluding interest and costs, except those involving title to real estate, shall be submitted to compulsory arbitration under this Rule.
Rule L1302 LIST OF ARBITRATORS APPOINTED; ARBITRATORS’ COMPENSATION
(a) The Prothonotary shall act as Arbitration Administrator, maintain a current roster of the members of the Bar qualified to act as arbitrators, and maintain proper legal forms necessary for the operation of these rules, which forms shall be printed at the expense of Lawrence County.

(b) To be an eligible arbitrator, each attorney shall be a member of the Bar, actively engaged in the practice of law, primarily in Lawrence County and shall file with the Prothonotary information showing whether the attorney is practicing alone, is a member of a firm, or is associated with one or more other attorneys. Upon any change in practice status or association with any other attorney or attorneys, the attorney shall immediately report such change to the Prothonotary, who will not the change on the roster of eligible arbitrators in accordance with the information submitted. Any attorney who declines to serve as an arbitrator shall so notify the Prothonotary in writing. Failure by an attorney appointed as an arbitrator to appear for three (3) consecutive arbitration hearings shall result in the attorney’s name being stricken from the roster of eligible arbitrators.

(c) When a Praecipe to Appoint Arbitrators is filed under Local Rule L1303, a Board of Arbitrators, consisting of three (3) members of the Bar of Lawrence County, shall be appointed by the Prothonotary from the attorneys qualified to act. The names of the arbitrators shall be taken from the roster of the eligible members of the Bar, in alphabetical order, except where attorneys are excused due to incapacity or illness or upon express written direction by an attorney. Not more than one (1) member of a firm or association of attorneys shall be appointed to the same Board, and no members of a firm or association of attorneys shall be appointed to a Board to hear a case where another member of the firm or association of attorneys is counsel for any party.

(d) The chair of the Board of Arbitrators shall be paid the sum of One Hundred Thirty Dollars ($130.00). The other members of the Board of Arbitrators shall each be paid the sum of One Hundred Five Dollars ($105.00) by Lawrence County in accordance with Rule L1306 for each case heard. Where a hearing is scheduled but not conducted and no award entered but the case is otherwise resolved and the Board of Arbitrators is not otherwise entitled to compensation under this sub section, the chair shall be compensated Twenty-Five Dollars ($25.00) for the scheduling of the hearing.

Rule L1303 ARBITRATION – NOTICE
(a) After the pleadings are closed, any party may place the case on the Arbitration List by filing a Praecipe to Appoint Arbitrators with the Prothonotary. The Praecipe shall be in the form as prescribed by this Rule and include a certification that counsel for the moving party has provided reasonable advanced notice to all opposing counsel and unrepresented parties that the case is being scheduled for an arbitration. Discovery may continue as long as it does not delay the hearing.

(b) Within 30 days after appointment, the Chairperson of the Board of Arbitrators shall schedule an arbitration hearing. Failure to so schedule an arbitration hearing shall result in the Prothonotary removing the Chairperson and appointing a new Chairperson.

(c) The Chairperson shall fix the date, time and place of the arbitration hearing. The parties shall be provided not less than 30 days written notice of the hearing.

(d) The notice of the hearing shall include the following statement:

“This matter will be heard by a Board of Arbitrators at the time, date and place specified but, if one or more of the parties is not present at the hearing, the matter may be heard at the same time and date before a judge of the court without the absent party or parties. There is no right to a trial de novo on appeal from a decision entered by a judge.”

(e) When the Board is convened for hearing, if one or more of the parties is not ready to proceed, the hearing shall be conducted, and the arbitrators shall make an award, unless the court:
(1) orders a continuance; or
(2) hears the matter if the notice of hearing contains the statement set forth in subdivision (d) of this Rule and all parties present consent.

Rule L1304 ARBITRATION – WITNESSES
(a) In all hearings before a Board of Arbitrators, all witnesses shall be sworn or make an affirmation before offering any testimony. Witness fees shall be taxed as costs as in other actions.

(b) At the hearing before the Board of Arbitrators, each party shall be subject to a time limit of one (1) hour in presenting their case. This time limit may be extended by a majority of the arbitrators for cause shown, such as in cases involving extensive cross-examination of witnesses.

(c) Continuances
(1) The Chair for cause shown without leave of court may grant one (1) continuance. Such a request to the Chair of the Board of Arbitrators must be unopposed and must be made at least two (2) business days before the scheduled arbitration date.
(2) Any motion for continuance which is contested or made within two (2) business days of the scheduled arbitration hearing must be presented to the court for approval.
(3) All motions for continuance not subject to being granted by the Chair or being made within two (2) business days of the scheduled arbitration shall be granted only upon cause shown and only upon payment of the arbitrators’ compensation by the moving party.

(d) Any moving party receiving a continuance of an arbitration hearing is responsible for notifying all other parties and arbitrators of the continuance and, further, responsible for rescheduling the arbitration hearing within 30 days of receiving the continuance. The moving party shall notify all parties and the arbitrators of the continuance and the rescheduled arbitration date. Failure of the moving party to comply with this Rule may result in the imposition of sanctions.

Rule L1306 ARBITRATION – AWARD
(a) The Board of Arbitrators shall make an award, including costs, interest, and attorney fees if authorized by law and are warranted, promptly upon termination of the hearing. The award shall dispose of all claims for relief and be substantially in the form provided by the Prothonotary. If the Plaintiff is seeking damages for delay under Pa.R.C.P. 238, Plaintiff shall comply with Pa.R.C.P. 238(d)(1). The award shall be signed by at least two (2) of the three (3) arbitrators. A dissenting vote without further comment may be noted on the award. The award shall be filed with the Prothonotary by the Chair of the Board of Arbitrators immediately after it is signed.

(b) If damages for delay are awarded under Pa.R.C.P. 238, the amount shall be separately stated. Prior to the award of delay damages, the parties shall submit to the Board of Arbitrators a sealed envelope setting forth the last settlement offer and its date. This envelope shall not be opened by the arbitrators until they have agreed upon an award, separate from any delay damages.

(c) Upon filing the Board of Arbitrators’ award, the Prothonotary shall certify to the County Commissioners and to the County Controller that the award has been filed, together with the names of the members of the Board of Arbitrators serving in the case. Thereupon, the County shall pay the required compensation to each member of the Board of Arbitrators serving in the case.
(1) If a case is settled, withdrawn, or otherwise terminated by or between the parties, the parties must, more than two (2) business days before the scheduled arbitration hearing date, so notify all arbitrators appointed for the case and file a Praecipe to Discontinue the action of record. In such an event, the arbitrators shall not be entitled to receive compensation. If the arbitrators have not been notified and/or if the case has not been discontinued of record more than two (2) business days before the date and time of the scheduled arbitration hearing, then the arbitration hearing shall be conducted as scheduled, and the arbitrators shall, in accordance with law, make an award. In such a case the arbitrators shall be entitled to compensation.
(2) The compensation payable or paid to the members of the Board of Arbitrators under these rules shall not be taxed as costs, except as otherwise provided in this Rule.