Contesting or Enforcing a Minnesota No-Fault Arbitration Award

The following is an excerpt from materials provided in conjunction with a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminar presentation given by Ramsay & DeVore, P,A,. Personal Injury attorney Denise S.S. Fullerton. Ms. Fullerton has lecture 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 provision of Minn. Stat. §572.10 through §572.26 shall apply to the confirmation, vacation, modification or correction of award issued hereunder, except that service of process pursuant to Minn. Stat. §572.23 shall be made as provided in Rule 29 of these rules.” –MN No-Fault Rules, September 7, 1999.

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 facsimile addressed to the party or its representative at the last known address or by personal service…provided that reasonable opportunity to be heard with regard thereto has been granted to the party….”–MN No-Fault Rules, September 7, 1999.

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. §572.16 – Change of award by arbitrator

“Subdivision 1. Application of party. On application of a party, the arbitrator may modify or correct the award:

(1) upon the grounds stated in section 572.20, subdivision 1;

(2) for the purpose of clarifying the award; or

(3) where the award is based on an error of law.

Subd. 3. Procedure. For purposes of subdivision 1 or 2, the application shall be made within 20 days after delivery of the award to the applicant…the opposing party must serve objections thereto, if any, within ten days from 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. §572.20 – Modification or correction of award

Subdivision 1. Upon application made within 90 days… the court shall modify or correct the award where:

(1) There was an evident miscalculation of figures…;

(2) The arbitrators have awarded upon a matter not submitted to them…; or

(3) The award is imperfect in a matter of form, not affecting the merits of the controversy.

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. §572.19 – Vacating an award.

“Subdivision 1. Upon application of a party, the court shall vacate an award where:

(1) The award was procured by corruption, fraud or other undue means;

(2) There was evident partiality by an arbitrator…or corruption…or misconduct prejudicing…any party;

(3) The arbitrators exceeded their powers;

(4) The arbitrators refused to postpone the hearing…or refused to hear evidence material to the controversy…as to prejudice substantially…a party; or

(5) There was no arbitration agreement and…the party did not participate in the arbitration hearing without raising the objection;

But the fact that the relief was such that it could not or would not be granted by a court of law or equity is not ground for vacating or refusing to confirm the award.

Subd. 2. An application under this section shall be made within 90 days after delivery of a copy of the award to the applicant, except that, if predicated upon corruption, fraud or other undue means, it shall be made within 90 days after such grounds are known or should have been known.

….

Subd. 4. If the application to vacate is denied and no motion to modify or correct the award is 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, respond with a Motion to Confirm. If you have an insurer who is failing to pay on an Award, and their 90 days to Move to Vacate has expired, file a Motion to Confirm. There is no time limit on making this Motion.

Minn. Stat. §572.18 – Confirmation of an award.

“Upon application of a party, the court shall confirm an award, unless within the time limits hereinafter imposed grounds are urged for vacating or modifying or correcting the award, in which case the court shall proceed as provided in sections 572.19 and 572.20.”

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. §572.21 – Judgment or decree on award.

“Upon the granting of an order confirming, modifying or correcting an award, judgment or decree shall be entered in conformity therewith and be enforced as any other judgment or decree. Costs of the application and of the proceedings subsequent thereto, and disbursements may be awarded by the court.”

Denise S.S. Fullerton is a Partner of Ramsay & DeVore, P.A. She heads the Injury and Rights Department, and is an accomplished and recognized member of MTLA. In 2001, Denise began her leadership track as a Chair of the MTLA No-Fault Committee, a position she continues to hold. She is also a qualified neutral for the American Arbitration Association.

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