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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 97-635




Judicial Administration; Arbitration; No. 97 375

[27 Pa.B. 2047]


   And Now, this 8th day of April, 1997, it is ordered that:

   1.  The Arbitration Rules section of the Rules of Civil Procedure of the Seventeenth Judicial District, are amended in the form as follows, effective thirty (30) days after the publication of the rules in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

   2.  The Court Administrator is directed to file seven (7) certified copies of this order and new rules with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, two (2) certified copies with the Legislative Reference Bureau for publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, one (1) certified copy with the Civil Procedural Rules Committee, one original with the Prothonotary of Union County, one original with the Prothonotary of Snyder County, and to mail one (1) certified copy to each member of the Union County Bar Association.

   3.  The Assistant Court Administrator is directed to mail one (1) certified copy to each member of the Snyder County Bar Association.

By the Court

President Judge


17LR1301.1  Cases for Submission.

   A.  Compulsory arbitration of matters as authorized by Section 7361 of the Judicial Code, 42 Pa.C.S. Section 101, et seq. shall apply to all cases at issue where the amount in controversy shall be twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000.00) or less.

   The amount in controversy shall be determined from the pleadings or by an agreement of reference filed by the attorneys. The amount in controversy, when determined from the pleadings, shall be the largest amount claimed by any one party.

   In the event that a case within arbitration limits is consolidated with a case involving more than arbitration limits after the former has been referred to a board of arbitrators, the order of consolidation will remove the same from the jurisdiction of the board of arbitrators.

   B.  A civil action will be referred to arbitration 20 days after the filing with the prothonotary and the court administrator of a praecipe signed by either party or its counsel indicating the matter is ready for arbitration. If the other party objects to the filing, that party shall, within the 20 days, file a motion requesting delay in the appointment of arbitrators pending completion of the pre-trial discovery and filings. The objection shall specifically indicate the matters that must be preliminarily resolved and shall propose a timetable for their completion.

   C.  Cases subject to arbitration shall be subject to the status and calendar orders then prevailing with regard to the civil docket. Such cases shall not be scheduled for a pre-trial conference if the status as an arbitration case can readily be determined from examination of the docket entries. If the discovery deadline has expired at the time of the pretrial conference for contemporaneously filed cases, the matter shall be scheduled by the court administrator for disposition by arbitration.

17LR1301.2  Agreement of Reference.

   Matters not in litigation may be referred to a board of arbitrators by an agreement of reference, signed by counsel for all sides in the case. Such agreement shall be filed with the prothonotary, who will forward a copy to the court administrator. Said agreement shall define the issue involved for determination by the board and, when agreeable, shall also contain stipulations with respect to facts. In such cases, the agreement shall take the place of the pleadings in the case and be filed of record.

17LR1302  List of Arbitrators.

   A.  Upon receipt of a praecipe, the court administrator shall nominate, from the list of attorneys, a board of potential arbitrators. The nominations shall be made in a rotational fashion from the members of the bar eligible for assignment, except where an attorney is excused by reason of incapacity, illness, or other disqualification. The court administrator shall further be responsible for apportioning assignments between members with more than five years' experience and those under five years. No more than one member of a family, firm, professional corporation, or association shall be nominated to serve on one potential board.

   B.  The court administrator shall nominate to the potential board 3 attorneys plus 1 additional attorney for each party of record. The list of attorneys nominated to the potential board shall be sent by the court administrator to each party or his or her attorney within 7 days of the receipt of the praecipe. Each party in the case or counsel for each party may strike off up to 1 attorney so named and return the list to the court administrator. If any or all parties strike the same name or fail to exercise their right to strike off any names from the potential board, the first 3 remaining names will make up the board of arbitration. In the event the court administrator cannot compile a list of sufficient names from the county in which the case arose, because of incapacity, illness or other disqualification, other attorneys whose practice is within the judicial district, regardless of county, may be included.

   C.  As soon as the court administrator receives the returned list from the parties (or after 7 days if any list is not returned) each arbitrator shall be notified of his or her selection. A final board shall be sent to the attorneys of the parties.

17LR1303  Scheduling of Hearings.

   A.  Upon receipt of a praecipe, pursuant to 17LR1301, the court administrator shall schedule the case to be arbitrated for a one-half day hearing, no sooner than 45 days from the date of the praecipe, to commence either at 9:00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m.

   B.  The hearing shall be held in the separate courthouses in either Union County or Snyder County in either the Hearing Room or the Jury Room designated for that purpose. The chair may, if appropriate, schedule the arbitration hearing at such other location as would be more convenient to the parties, witnesses, counsel or arbitrators, on the same date as would otherwise apply.

   C.  After having been identified as a member of an arbitration panel under the methods set forth previously in Section 17LR1302.1, and after having been scheduled to serve on an arbitration panel on a date certain, pursuant to (A) above, should an arbitrator be unable to serve due to a conflict of interest, conflict in scheduling, or other such reason, that arbitrator shall inform the court administrator, who shall appoint a successor arbitrator.

17LR1304.1  Conduct of Hearings.

   The conduct of all hearings, generally and with respect to the admissibility of evidence, shall be as set forth in Pa.R.C.P. Nos. 1304, 1305, and 1038(a). Arbitrators shall exercise reasonable restraint in questioning of witnesses. Witness fees shall be taxed as costs, as in other actions.

17LR1304.2  Continuances.

   Continuances shall be granted only by court order for good cause shown on notice sent by the court administrator to the parties and the court. Requests for continuances shall be submitted in writing in the form of a motion. A motion for continuance should be filed not later than 3 days prior to the scheduled date for the arbitration hearing.

   If a party fails to appear at a scheduled arbitration hearing, the arbitrators shall proceed as set forth in Pa.R.C.P. 1303 and 1304.

17LR1306  Awards.

   A.  After the case has been heard, the arbitrators shall make their report/award, which shall be signed by at least a majority of them. An award must be submitted within 10 days after the day of the hearing or the last adjournment thereof.

   B.  The award shall be filed with the prothonotary.

   C.  The prothonotary shall enter the award of the arbitrators in the docket and shall index the same in the judgment index. If an appeal is taken, the prothonotary shall notify the court administrator, who shall place it on the next pre-trial list.

   D.  Upon the award being indexed, the prothonotary shall give immediate written notice of the award to all the parties, or their attorneys, by regular mail and a copy to the court administrator.

17LR1308.1  Compensation for Arbitrators.

   A.  The chair of the board of arbitrators shall receive compensation in the amount of $150.00 per case; the other members of the board shall receive compensation in the amount of $100.00 per case.

   B.  Each arbitrator shall be entitled to receive an additional compensation at the rate of $25.00 per hour in any case in which the actual time spent in the hearing exceeds 3 1/2 hours.

   C.  Upon the filing of the board's report or award, the prothonotary shall certify to the county controller that the report and award, if any, has been filed, together with the names of the members of the board serving in the case. The county shall then pay the aforesaid fee to each member of the board serving on the case in accordance with Subsection A of this rule.

   D.  In the event that a case shall be settled or withdrawn or otherwise terminated by or between the parties at any time prior to the date scheduled for hearing, the board members shall not be entitled to the aforesaid fee. If the case is settled, withdrawn, or otherwise terminated by or between the parties, on the date scheduled for hearing but prior to the scheduled starting time, the panel members shall be entitled to one-half of the base fee as set forth in Subsection A of this rule. In the event the case is continued after the arbitrators have convened, either before or after testimony has begun, the time required of the arbitrators during the first scheduled hearing shall be aggregated with the time required during the second hearing. To the extent that such aggregated time is less than 3 1/2 hours, the fee set forth in Paragraph A shall be applicable. To the extent that such aggregated time exceeds 3 1/2 hours, the hourly rate set forth in Paragraph B shall be due for the hours in excess of 3 1/2.

   The prothonotary shall not mark or certify a case settled or discontinued until the attorney for the plaintiff has presented his or her praecipe in proper form.

17LR1308.2  Appeals.

   A.  Any party to the proceeding may appeal from the decision or award of the arbitrators to the Court of Common Pleas, upon prepayment to the county of the fees of the members of the board. Said appeal shall be taken not later than 30 days after the date of the entry of the award of the arbitrators on the docket. Repayment to the county of the fees of the members of the board shall not be taxed as costs or be recoverable in any proceeding. A de novo appeal shall be allowed as a matter of course upon the filing of the affidavit of appeal and recognizance, and upon the aforesaid repayment of the arbitrators' fees.

   B.  The prothonotary shall notify the court administrator of all appeals from arbitration. All arbitration appeals shall immediately be scheduled by the court administra-tor for pre-trial conference and trial at the earliest practical date.

   C.  If no appeal is filed within 30 days, judgment shall be taken on the award.

17LR1314  Law Controlling Arbitration.

   All cases heard under these rules shall be governed in all other respects by the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, enacted regarding arbitration proceedings.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 97-635. Filed for public inspection April 25, 1997, 9:00 a.m.]

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