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Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution. It allows both sides to present their case in an expedited fashion to a panel of three attorneys who render a decision that same day.
Cases involving claimed money damages in excess of $10,000 up to $75,000. Judges also have discretion to assign other cases to arbitration, such as small claims jury demand cases and Law cases where damages in excess of $75,000 are doubtful.
Cases filed as arbitration cases will have an “AR” as part of the case number. The number on the front of the complaint and summons will typically read 2004 AR ###. The 2004 represents the year the case was filed; the AR that it is assigned to the arbitration division; and the ### is the specific case number.
No, in almost all instances, it is mandatory for cases involving money damages in excess of $10,000 but not more than $75,000.
The Illinois Supreme Court recognized that trials are expensive in terms of time and money for litigants, attorneys, and taxpayers. The arbitration system was created to save the majority time and money in resolving disputes of $75,000 or less. Many cases are successfully concluded in six to nine months and the vast majority of cases are concluded within one year of filing. Through the use of mandatory arbitration, the number of eligible cases actually going to jury trial has been reduced to one percent or less.
Mandatory Arbitration rules can be found in the Supreme Court Rules (SCR) #86- 95 and in Part 24 of the Local Rules for the 14th Judicial Circuit Court.
Licensed attorneys in good standing who have undergone court approved training and retired judges serve as arbitrators. They request to be placed upon a list for possible service.
Rose Reasor, the Arbitration Assistant, randomly selects arbitrators from a list of trained arbitrators. Since many arbitrators still practice law daily, scheduling sometimes has to work around their schedules.
The State of Illinois pays each arbitrator $100 for each two hour arbitration hearing. A portion of each arbitration case filing fee is used to cover this cost.
Generally you were served with a Summons that requires you to appear on a certain date and at a certain time at a named courthouse. The best thing you can do is hire an attorney to represent you and appear at this hearing. If the lawsuit is brought because you were involved in an auto accident and you had insurance at the time, notify your insurance company. If for whatever reason you cannot hire an attorney, then you should be prepared to file an appropriate motion or answer at or before the initial hearing.
Generally you appear at the time and date indicated on your Summons. For further direction to the appropriate courtroom assigned for use that day, you should report to the bailiff’s station on the First Floor of the Rock Island County Courthouse located at:
1317 3rd AvenueRock Island, IL
Check in on First Floor at desk, the clerk will let you know if someone from the other side has checked in yet. When representatives from both sides have appeared, they should confer with each other prior to asking the Judge to call their case for hearing.
You do not need to bring your evidence and/or witnesses to the initial appearance date noted on the Summons. This time is used as a scheduling and status conference time. You will need your witnesses and evidence for the actual arbitration hearing and later the trial if the case is not resolved.
You get an arbitration hearing date at a Friday morning status conference once all Defendants have been served and answers filed, if they are not in default. If there is no Answer filed, then there can be no Arbitration held for that Defendant. A Pre-Arbitration Order is usually entered setting the Arbitration Hearing Date.
An answer is a legal pleading. It admits or denies the allegations stated in the complaint, paragraph by paragraph. It is a binding document and there are potentially adverse consequences if prepared incorrectly. You are encouraged to have an attorney prepare the answer for you. There is a filing fee charged by the Circuit Clerk when the answer is filed.
As a defendant, you will be charged a filing fee by the Circuit Clerk to file your answer and/or legal appearance in the case. The fee is usually between $334. The amount of the fee is set by the legislature not the Circuit Clerk.
Each side has approximately 50 minutes to present their case to a panel of three arbitrators. One of the arbitrators serves as the chairperson and rules on the admissibility of evidence. It is treated like a mini-trial. There are opening and closing statements and the rules of evidence apply. The arbitration panel will issue a written decision (on a form authorized by the Supreme Court) that same day.
No, only the Supervising Judge can continue an arbitration hearing, and then only for good cause shown. As soon as you know there may be a problem with the scheduled arbitration hearing date, file a motion to continue as monetary sanctions may be imposed for continuances heard less than 30 days prior to the arbitration hearing (see the Court’s memo on Motions to Continue).
If the parties settle the matter within 24 hours prior to the hearing, they have four options:
No, if the hearing starts after the scheduled time due to the fault of one of the parties, that party will be penalized by deducting that amount of time from his/her presentation. If you are going to be late, please call the Arbitration Center. If the hearing starts after the scheduled time due to the fault of the Arbitration Center or one of the arbitrators, the parties will not be penalized.
If a party fails to appear at the arbitration hearing, the hearing will proceed ex-parte and the appropriate award will be entered. The Arbitration Chair may wait fifteen minutes at his/her discretion for a party to appear before commencing the hearing. Pursuant to SCR 91, the non-appearing party waives the right to reject the award and thereby consents to entry of judgment on the award.
No, SCR 90(a) provides that arbitrators shall have the power to administer oaths and affirmations to witnesses; to determine the admissibility of evidence; and to decide the law and facts of the case. Rulings on objections to evidence or on other issues which arise during the hearing shall be made by the chairperson of the panel. The right of rejecting the award and proceeding to trial is the appropriate remedy for any perceived bias or prejudice on the part of any panel member or error by the panel in determining its award.
You should review Supreme Court Rule 90. It provides for ways to submit documents into evidence without the need to lay a foundation.
As a courtesy, you should make at three copies of your Rule 90 packet, one for each of the three panel members, and any other evidence that you plan to present to the panel. The Arbitration Center is not responsible for documents left with it and therefore litigants are encouraged not to leave original documents at the arbitration center.
The Arbitration Administrator stores the exhibits on the premises for seven days after the Arbitration Hearing. The parties must retrieve their exhibits within the seven-day period to avoid destruction. The Arbitration Center is not responsible for these documents and strongly urges all litigants to make copies of original documents and leave copies, not originals, with the panel while they deliberate.
You will need to make a motion at the start of the arbitration hearing and ask the chairperson to rule on the motion. (Preferably the motion is in writing and served on the other side at least one week prior to the hearing.) The supervising judge does not rule on these motions prior to the arbitration hearing.
No, a court reporter is not automatically present. You may arrange to bring your own court reporter at your expense if you like. Testimony from the arbitration hearing has limited use in any later trial of the matter.
Dawn Tanner serves as the Arbitration Administrator. Victoria Bluedorn serves as the Court Administrator for the 14th Judicial Circuit.
Circuit Court Judge Kathleen E. Mesich serves as the Arbitration Supervising Judge. Dawn Tanner with the Court Administrator’s Office (309-794-3605) serves as his scheduling clerk for court time.
Motions before the Supervising Judge are heard on the court’s regular daily docket call at the Rock Island County Courthouse, 1317 3rd Avenue. Rock Island, IL, 61201. Call Dawn Tanner at 309-794-3605 to schedule court time. Because of the large volume of cases on the regular 9AM Friday status call, contested motions will not be heard at that time.
The Arbitration Center is located two blocks East of the Rock Island County Courthouse. The Center is located on the first floor of the Paddock Building:1617 - 2nd AvenueSuite 100Rock Island, IL 61201
Yes, the Center was completed in early 2001 and complies with the American’s with Disabilities Act.
Although there is two-hour street-side parking in front of the Arbitration Center, we would suggest you obtain a temporary parking pass from a representative at the Arbitration Center so that you may park in the lot at the rear of the building. The Arbitration Center is located in the first floor of the Paddock Building at:
1617 - 2nd AvenueSuite 100Rock Island, IL.
You may call the Arbitration Center at 309-794-3605 with any questions you may have. We would be happy to assist you.
No, you do not have to accept the decision. It is mandatory that the parties go through Arbitration, but this is non-binding arbitration in the sense that the award can be rejected.
Within 30 days of the Arbitration Award, you must file a written notice of rejection with the Circuit Clerk and pay a rejection fee of $200 if the award is $30,000 or less or $500 if the award is more than $30,000. A copy of the Notice Of Rejection of Award form is available for download. A Rejection of Award cannot be filed at the post arbitration status hearing.
At the Post Arbitration Hearing, your case will be assigned to a judge within the civil division and given a trial date. Generally a Post Arbitration Hearing Order is entered at that time.
In certain instances, you can lose your right to reject the award, such as if you fail to attend the Arbitration Hearing or fail to participate in the Arbitration Hearing in good faith. A judge will determine if you lose the right to reject the award.
No, since the arbitration is non-binding, you cannot appeal the arbitration award. You can only accept or reject the award.
If neither side files a timely rejection of the award, then the case ends by either being dismissed or judgment is entered on the award.
No, SCR 93 prohibits calling the arbitrators as witnesses at trial.
This is a catch-all form order to cover most of the events that occur prior to the Arbitration being held. A copy of this Order is available for download.