Enforcing Arbitration Awards
The following is an excerpt from materials provided in conjunction with a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminar presentation given by personal injury attorney Denise Fullerton of Fullerton Law, P.A.. Denise has lectured numerous times at CLEs, and has been invited to repeat her presentations multiple times.
Contesting or Enforcing a Minnesota No-Fault Arbitration Award
The No-Fault Arbitration Rules provide that the method for contesting or enforcing an award is pursuant to the statutes governing arbitration.
Rule 38 – Confirmation, Vacation, Modification or Correction of Award
The provisions of Minn. Stat. § 572B.01 through § 572B.31 shall apply to the confirmation, vacation, modification, or correction of award issued hereunder, except that service of process pursuant to the Minn. Stat. § 572B.05 shall be made as provided in Rule 29 of these rules.
Service of process is the only exception to this. Notice may be served by fax or mail, and may be made on the representative, rather than the party itself.
Rule 29 – Serving of Notice
Each party waives the requirements of Minn. Stat. §572.23 and shall be deemed to have agreed that any papers, notices or process necessary or proper…may be served on a party by mail or electronic means addressed to the party or its representative at the last known address or by personal service, in or outside the state where the arbitration is to be held, provided that reasonable opportunity to be heard with regard thereto has been granted to the party.
A. Modification or Correction
Within 20 days of delivery of the Award, you may make a request that the arbitrator modify or correct the Award. The stated grounds for a modification or correction are evident miscalculations, award of a matter not placed before the arbitrator, clarification of the award, or to correct an error of law.
Minn. Stat. §572B.20 – Change of award by arbitrator
(a) On motion to an arbitrator by a party to the arbitration proceeding, the arbitrator may modify or correct an award:
(1) upon the grounds stated in section 572B.24, subsection (a)(1) or (3);
(2) because the arbitrator has not made a final and definite award upon a claim submitted by the parties to the arbitration proceeding; or
(3) to clarify the award.
(b) A motion under subsection (a) must be made and served on all parties within 20 days after the movant receives notice of the award.
(c) A party to the arbitration proceeding must serve any objections to the motion within ten days after receipt of the notice.
If you fail to make the request within 20 days, you will be limited to applying to the Court within 90 days. You will not be able to request clarification. If there is an error of law, the Court is more likely to vacate the award, whereas the arbitrator can correct the error.
Minn. Stat. §572B.24 – Modification or correction of award
(a) Upon motion filed…within 90 days after the movant receives notice of an arbitrator’s award in a record on a motion to modify or correct an award pursuant to section 572B.20, the court shall modify or correct the award if:
(1) there was an evident mathematical miscalculation…;
(2) the arbitrator has made an award on a claim not submitted to the arbitrator…; or
(3) the award is imperfect in a matter of form not affecting the merits of the decision on the claims submitted..
B. Motion to District Court to Vacate
Within 90 days of delivery of the Award, you may make your motion to District Court to Vacate the Award. The result if the award is vacated will be a rehearing of the matter, which will be before the same or different arbitrator depending upon the grounds for vacation.
The stated grounds for vacating an award are fraud, corruption, misconduct, or evident partiality; the arbitrator exceeded his powers (such as by deciding a question of law); a party was substantially prejudiced due to the arbitrator refusing to postpone the hearing or to hear material evidence; or the arbitrator did not have jurisdiction over the matter and the insurer made a proper objection.
Minn. Stat. §572B.23 – Vacating award.
(a) Upon motion of a party to the arbitration proceeding, the court shall vacate an award if:
(1) the award was procured by corruption, fraud or other undue means;
(2) there was:
(A) evident partiality by an arbitrator appointed as a neutral;
(B) corruption by an arbitrator; or
(C) misconduct by an arbitrator prejudicing the rights of a party to the arbitration proceeding;
(3) an arbitrator refused to postpone the hearing upon showing of sufficient cause for postponement, refused to consider evidence material to the controversy, or otherwise conducted the hearing contrary to section 572B.15, so as to prejudice substantially the rights of a party to the arbitration proceeding; [or]
(4) an arbitrator exceeded the arbitrator’s powers;…
(b) A motion under this section must be filed within 90 days after the movant receives notice of the award in a record pursuant to section 572B.19 or within 90 days after the movant receives notice of an arbitrator’s award in a record on a motion to modify or correct an award pursuant to section 572B.20, unless the motion is predicated upon the ground that the award was procured by corruption, fraud, or other undue means, in which case it must be filed within 90 days after such a ground is known or by the exercise of reasonable care should have been known by the movant….
(d) If a motion to vacate an award is denied and a motion to modify or correct the award is not pending, the court shall confirm the award.
If the motion to vacate is denied, and there are no other motions pending, the Court shall confirm the award.
C. Motion to District Court to Confirm
If you are faced with a Motion to Vacate, you may wish to respond with a Motion to Confirm. If you have an insurer who is failing to pay on an Award, and their 90 days within which to Move to Vacate has expired, file a Motion to Confirm. There is no time limit on making this Motion.
Minn. Stat. §572B.22 – Confirmation of award.
After a party to the arbitration proceeding receives notice of an award, the party may file a motion with the court for an order confirming the award, at which time the court shall issue such an order unless the award is modified or corrected pursuant to section 572B.20 or 572B.24 or is vacated pursuant to section 572B.23.
An Order Confirming an Award, just as the Court’s Order modifying or correcting an Award, shall be reduced to judgment. This becomes your tool for enforcing the Award, when all else has failed. Be certain to also move for costs and disbursements!
Minn. Stat. §572B.25 – Judgment on award; Attorney fees on Litigation Expenses.
(a) Upon granting an order confirming, vacating without directing a rehearing, modifying, or correcting an award, the court shall enter a judgment in conformity therewith. The judgment may be recorded, docketed, and enforced as any other judgment in a civil.
(b) A court may allow reasonable costs of the motion and subsequent judicial proceedings;
(c) On application of a prevailing party to a contested judicial proceeding under section 572B.22, 572B.23, or 572B.24, the court may add to a judgment confirming, vacating without directing a rehearing, modifying, or correcting an award, attorney fees and other reasonable expenses of litigation incurred in a judicial proceeding after the award is made.