Frequently Asked Questions
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How does the arbitration process begin?
Once a case has been referred by the Magistrate Judge or designated for compulsory arbitration, the arbitration clerk sends out a Notice Designating Case to Arbitration to plaintiffs counsel. Once the answer is filed, an arbitration hearing is set and notice is given to all counsel. The arbitrator is selected at random, approximately one month before the arbitration hearing. Counsel will be sent a copy of the Order Appointing Arbitrator that will include the name and contact information for the arbitrator. Plaintiffs counsel must contact the arbitration department at least 24 hours in advance, or earlier, to confirm that the arbitration hearing will go forward on the date scheduled.
Can a party request that their case be exempt for arbitration?
Yes. The court may, sua sponte, or on motion of a party, exempt any case from arbitration in which the objectives of arbitration would not be realized:
- because the case involves complex or novel issues;
- because legal issues predominate over factual issues; or
- for other good cause.
The proper format and procedure to seek exemption from arbitration for the above-listed reasons, can be found under Local Rule 83.10 (e) (1).
How do I know if my case is eligible for Arbitration?
Under Local Rule 83.10 (d), the Clerk of the Court is authorized to designate and process all civil cases for compulsory arbitration if:
- The damages do not exceed $150,000, exclusive of interest and costs; or
- The parties consent to arbitration before the assigned Magistrate Judge, regardless of initial demand for money damages;
Cases that are not eligible for Arbitration include :
- Money damages that exceed $150,000;
- Pro Se cases
- Social Security Cases;
- Tax Matters;
- Prisoners Civil Rights cases
- Any action that is based on a violation of Constitutional Rights, or if jurisdiction is based in or whole or part on Title 28 USC ' 1343 wherein money damages do not exceed $150,000, exclusive or interest and costs;
- Cases that involve student loan defaults;
- Cases that seek injunctive relief or if the relief sought is not monetary;
- Cases where counsel for plaintiff files a certification with the court that the damages exceed the $150,000, exclusive of interests and costs; and
- Cases where a counterclaim or a cross-claim is filed and the damages sought by such a claim, exceeds the $150,000 limit, exclusive of interest and costs.
After the Mediation is completed, what is filed on the case?
When a case has been referred to mediation, counsel are required to update the status of the case through the courts electronic filing system ECF. Counsel must update ECF upon selection of a mediator (within two weeks of a case’s referral to mediation) with the name and contact information of the mediator and the time, date, and location of the mediation. After the mediation is completed, counsel must file with ECF indicating whether the case is settled or unsettled and they must complete a written questionnaire to be sent to the ADR Administrator, Gerald P. Lepp.
Is the Mediation Binding on the Parties?
Although the parties are not bound to settle through the process of mediation–no mediator can force the parties to take a certain position or accept a proposed settlement–, the parties will be bound by any agreement they reach. These agreements must be memorialized in writing before leaving the session.
When are Mediation sessions usually held?
Mediations are usually scheduled for 10:00 am, and can be held in any mutually agreed upon location, although, to promote neutrality, meeting in one of the Eastern District courthouses or the mediator’s office is preferable to meeting in a party’s or party’s counsel’s office. The length of the mediation depends on the mediator, the parties, and the complexity of the case. Although the average time for a mediation session is between five and six hours, some last as long as fifteen hours, so it is advisable to schedule an entire day for the process.
At the mediation session, all participants will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement as required by Local Civil Rule 83.11.
What is Court-Annexed Arbitration?
Court-Annexed Arbitration is an alternate way to resolve civil cases that have a demand for damages of $150,000 or less, without going to trial. When an action is commenced in the Eastern District, there is a Civil Cover Sheet (JS 44) that is submitted with the Complaint before a docket number is assigned. On the back of the Civil Cover Sheet, there is an Arbitration Certification that is only filled out by the party filing the complaint, if the damages exceed the $150,000 cap, exclusive of interest and costs. If this certification is not filled out, the case may be eligible for arbitration, subject to review by the Arbitration Clerk.
What is the process for selecting a Mediator?
Parties may choose to either use a mediator from the court’s panel of over 200 mediators or a private mediator. All EDNY panelists have been members of a state bar for 5 years or more, have been trained in mediation, and have been interviewed and screened by the court. Effective 7/7/2009, EDNY mediators in the program are compensated in accordance with EDNY Local Rule 83.11(f)(1). A list of EDNY panel members can be found here. Parties may also seek the services of a neutral ADR organization, an ADR firm, or a private mediator. Compensation of mediators not in the program is determined by agreement among the counsel and the mediator.