Allegheny County Increases Arbitration Limits to $35,000.00.
Published on by Noah Paul Fardo
Effective July 15, 2013, Allegheny County has raised the civil division arbitration limits from $25,000.00 to $35,000.00.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is a method of the courts to help resolve lawsuits early, and only involves civil cases under a certain monetary threshold. Arbitration involves a formal court hearing held in front of three lawyers instead of a judge or jury.
Each county may have different arbitration limits. For example, while Allegheny County has limits of $35,000.00, both Westmoreland County and Philadelphia County have arbitration limits of $50,000.00.
One of the benefits of an arbitration hearing is that it can be less costly for the parties and receives an expedited hearing date.
Parties may also offer certain hearsay evidence if it is exchanged with the opposing party 30 days prior to the scheduled arbitration hearing. This means that certain expert reports can be used as evidence without litigants having to incur substantial fees for live experts to appear and testify.
Arbitration is a cost effective tool of the courts which can be appealed by either party de novo (meaning fresh or new) to a judge or jury.
The outcome of the arbitration hearing is irrelevant on appeal and cannot be used by either party as evidence on appeal.
Also, if there is an appeal, neither party is limited to the arbitration limits in front of a judge or jury.
Allegheny County Local Rule 1301
Arbitration in Allegheny County is governed by Local Rule 1301 which states in relevant part the following:
The following civil actions shall first be submitted to and heard by a Board of Arbitrators:
- Civil actions, proceedings and appeals or issues therein where the demand is for $35,000 or less (exclusive of interest and costs);
- Replevin without bond and replevin with bond once bond has been set by the Court;
- Appeals from final judgments of Magisterial District Judges; and
- Matters transferred to Compulsory Arbitration by the Court even thought the original demand may have exceeded $35,000
The following civil actions are not subject to Compulsory Arbitration as set forth, above:
- Actions seeking only an accounting;
- Actions seeking only equitable relief;
- Actions in which the Commonwealth is a party defendant or any employee of the Commonwealth is a party defendant under the provisions of 42 Pa.C.S., Chapter 85B (relating to actions against Commonwealth parties).
In any action seeking both money damages and accounting or equitable relief, a Board of Arbitrators may award money damages but may not order an accounting or equitable relief.
A Board of Arbitrators may not enter an award in favor of a party in excess of $35,000 (exclusive of interest and costs).
- Note: While a Board of Arbitrators may hear a lawsuit in which any party claim an amount in excess of $35,000, the award of the Board of Arbitrators to any party may not exceed $35,000 (exclusive of interest and costs).
- However, with the agreement of all parties, a Board of Arbitrators may award up to the amount agreed upon in excess of $35,000 if all parties also agree that the arbitration award is final and cannot be appealed to the Court.
If a party files a counterclaim or a cross-claim seeking an award in excess of $35,000 (exclusive of interest and costs), and party may file a petition to transfer the entire case to the General Docket.
At the discretion of a judge, such a counterclaim or cross-claim may be severed and transferred to the General Docket.
If you have additional questions about an arbitration hearing or lawsuit in Allegheny County, please feel free to email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call our offices at 412.802.6666.
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