Getting a Recovery from an Arbitration; Be Careful When Agreeing to Arbitration

If you are offered to arbitrate your case, be aware that an arbitrator’s decision is final, binding, and not appealable. 

Recently, the other side did not realize this.

In a prior post we discussed a case involving a  defective mirror.  See our prior post here.  

In this case we represented the defendant, an antiques store.  Plaintiff, the purchaser of the mirror and an attorney, represented himself.  The purchaser sought to return and get a full refund of $5,000 on a large decorative mirror.  The antiques store refused because plaintiff damaged it, and the store could neither repair the damage nor sell the defective mirror.

Both sides agreed to arbitration, and the case was tried before an arbitrator.  The parties agreed that arbitrator’s decision would be final, binding, and non-appealable. 

The plaintiff lost.  The arbitrator found that the mirror buyer had no basis to get a full refund after having damaged the mirror.

Now, plaintiff has moved to vacate the arbitrator’s decision based on alleged fraud.  Plaintiff cannot win because he agreed that the arbitrator’s decision would be final, binding, and not appealable.  It seems that plaintiff, an attorney, has regretted agreeing to arbitration after losing the arbitration.

The lesson is be careful when deciding to arbitrate.  The decision to arbitrate should be made just as carefully as the decision either to settle or try the case.  

In the mirror case the plaintiff had a change of heart after he lost at arbitration.  The courts will not give a free “do-over” to a loser.

In another case a client agreed to arbitration, and we communicated the agreement to the other side.  For various factors, arbitration was better than having the case tried to a jury.  Shortly, after agreeing to arbitration, the client changed his mind.  We told the client that it was too late and that he had agreed to the arbitration.  The client insisted that he wanted to rip-up his agreement to arbitrate, but the court said that it was too late.  The court ruled that the client had agreed to arbitrate and must proceed with arbitration in the courts.

We have handled many cases which have gone to either trial, arbitration, or settlement.  Each case is different and presents different challenges and advantages.   Our recommendations are based upon the client’s needs, the facts of the case, and our experience.  If you have a case that you wish to discuss, please feel free to call me at 800-581-1434.

Mark E. Seitelman, 3/4/09,


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