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Court members disagree about propriety of arbitrator's decision

This week, two judges reversed an arbitrator's decision in the case of Wireless Toyz Franchise v. Clear Choice Communications, et al.  The Wireless corporation had sued the defendants in Circuit Court arguing that the Arbitrator exceeded his powers when he concluded that the plaintiff was guilty of misrepresentation.  In short, the parties had forestalled a prior lawsuit by stipulating to arbitrate the issues raised in the lawsuit to a final conclusion, with the arbitrator having all of the powers of a circuit judge and the parties enjoying the full rights of circuit discovery.

The two judges in the majority decided that since the misrepresentation claim was not included in the pleadings at the time the arbitration agreement was signed, the arbitrator had, in fact, exceeded his powers.  The dissenting judge pointed out that the "finality" language in the agreement, when coupled with discovery and a judge's right to allow amendment, empowered the arbitrator to enter the ruling he did, particularly given the complaining party's failure to object to the admission of the pertinent evidence.
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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