CHAPTER 922b*

FACT-FINDING AND ARBITRATION

*Secs. 52-549n–52-549aa cited. 28 CA 693.

Table of Contents

Sec. 52-549n. Certain contract actions referred to fact-finders. Rules of procedure.

Sec. 52-549o. Assignment of fact-finders. Hearings.

Sec. 52-549p. Appointment of fact-finders. Compensation. Powers.

Sec. 52-549q. Adjournment of meeting of arbitrators. Meeting of arbitrators. Absence of arbitrator.

Sec. 52-549r. Rules of evidence to apply to fact-finding proceedings. Finding of fact. Award.

Sec. 52-549s. Consideration of finding by court. Objections. Authority of court re finding.

Sec. 52-549t. Failure to appear. Payment of fees of fact-finder. Dismissal of action.

Sec. 52-549u. Arbitration of certain civil actions. Rules of procedure.

Sec. 52-549v. Assignment of arbitrators. Arbitration proceedings.

Sec. 52-549w. Appointment of arbitrators. Compensation. Powers.

Sec. 52-549x. Decision of arbitrator.

Sec. 52-549y. Failure to appear. Judgment. Motion to open or set aside judgment. Dismissal of action. Payment of arbitration fee.

Sec. 52-549z. Appeal. Trial de novo.

Sec. 52-549aa. Setting aside award. Trial de novo.


Sec. 52-549n. Certain contract actions referred to fact-finders. Rules of procedure. In accordance with the provisions of section 51-14, the judges of the Superior Court may make such rules as they deem necessary to provide a procedure in accordance with which the court, in its discretion, may refer to a fact-finder for proceedings authorized pursuant to this chapter, any contract action pending in the Superior Court, except claims under insurance contracts for uninsured and or underinsured motorist coverage, in which only money damages are claimed and which is based upon an express or implied promise to pay a definite sum, and in which the amount, legal interest or property in controversy is less than fifty thousand dollars exclusive of interest and costs. Such cases may be referred to a fact-finder only after the certificate of closed pleadings has been filed, no claim for a jury trial has been filed at the time of reference, and the time prescribed in section 52-215 for filing a jury trial claim within thirty days of the return day or within ten days after the issue of fact has been joined has expired.

(P.A. 81-462, S. 8, 13; P.A. 82-441, S. 1, 13, 23; P.A. 97-24, S. 1, 7; 97-40, S. 6.)

History: P.A. 82-441 deleted provisions re arbitration of civil actions and substituted provisions re rules of procedure for fact-finding in certain contract actions, and postponed effective date of section from July 1, 1982, to July 1, 1983; P.A. 97-24 added exception for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, increased limit for amount in controversy from less than $15,000 to less than $50,000 and, using language identical to that in P.A. 97-40, made change in procedure by requiring filing of certificate of closed pleadings, effective January 1, 1998; P.A. 97-40 required filing of certificate of closed pleadings.

Cited. 199 C. 496. Cited. 237 C. 758.

Cited. 5 CA 469. Cited. 12 CA 348. Cited. 15 CA 185; Id., 194. Cited. 17 CA 294. Cited. 20 CA 420. Cited. 24 CA 223. Cited. 28 CA 693; Id., 693. Cited. 35 CA 353. Cited. 38 CA 772. Cited. 42 CA 763.

Sec. 52-549o. Assignment of fact-finders. Hearings. The Chief Court Administrator may assign to each judicial district such number of fact-finders as he deems advisable. The Chief Court Administrator, or his designee, shall designate the holding of fact-finding hearings at such times and in such courthouse facilities as he deems to be in the best interest of court business, taking into consideration the convenience of litigants and their counsel and the efficient use of courthouse personnel and facilities.

(P.A. 82-441, S. 2, 23.)

History: P.A. 82-441, S. 2 effective July 1, 1983.

Cited. 199 C. 496.

Cited. 20 CA 420.

Sec. 52-549p. Appointment of fact-finders. Compensation. Powers. (a) Upon publication of a notice in the Connecticut Law Journal, any commissioner of the Superior Court admitted to practice in this state for at least five years, who is willing and able to act as a fact-finder, may submit his name to the Office of the Chief Court Administrator for approval to be placed on a list of available fact-finders for one or more judicial districts. The criteria for selection and approval of the fact-finders shall be promulgated by the judges of the Superior Court. Upon selection and approval by the Chief Court Administrator, for such term as he may fix, the fact-finders shall be sworn or affirmed to try justly and equitably all matters at issue submitted to them. The Chief Court Administrator, in his discretion, may at any time revoke any such approval.

(b) Each fact-finder shall receive one hundred dollars for each day he is assigned to a courthouse facility to conduct hearings as a fact-finder, and an additional twenty-five dollars for each finding of fact filed with the court. In difficult or extraordinary cases the Chief Court Administrator may, in his discretion, make a further allowance not to exceed two hundred dollars for services rendered attendant to but not part of the hearing.

(c) Such fact-finders shall have the power to: (1) Issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and for the production of books, papers and other evidence, such subpoenas to be served in the manner provided by law for service of subpoenas in a civil action and to be returnable to the fact-finders; (2) administer oaths or affirmations; and (3) determine the admissibility of evidence and the form in which it is to be offered.

(P.A. 81-462, S. 9, 13; P.A. 82-441, S. 3, 13, 23.)

History: P.A. 82-441 deleted provision re service of attorneys as arbitrators and added provisions re appointment, compensation and powers of fact-finders, and postponed effective date of section from July 1, 1982, to July 1, 1983.

Cited. 199 C. 496.

Cited. 12 CA 190. Cited. 20 CA 420.

Sec. 52-549q. Adjournment of meeting of arbitrators. Meeting of arbitrators. Absence of arbitrator. Section 52-549q is repealed.

(P.A. 81-462, S. 10, 13; P.A. 82-441, S. 13, 21, 23.)

Sec. 52-549r. Rules of evidence to apply to fact-finding proceedings. Finding of fact. Award. In matters submitted to fact-finding a record shall be made of the proceedings and the rules of evidence in civil cases in this state shall apply. The fact-finders shall proceed to determine the matters in controversy submitted to them, and shall prepare and sign a finding of fact, which shall include an award of damages if applicable. Within one hundred twenty days of the completion of the fact-finder’s hearing the fact-finder shall file the finding of fact with the clerk of the court together with sufficient copies thereof for the parties and their counsel.

(P.A. 81-462, S. 11, 13; P.A. 82-441, S. 4, 13, 23.)

History: P.A. 82-441 deleted provisions re arbitration and added provisions re rules of evidence in fact-finding proceedings, findings of fact and awards, and changed effective date of section from July 1, 1982, to July 1, 1983.

Cited. 199 C. 496.

Cited. 20 CA 420.

Sec. 52-549s. Consideration of finding by court. Objections. Authority of court re finding. (a) Not less than fourteen days after the filing of the finding, the clerk shall schedule the matter for consideration by the court. The parties may file objections to the acceptance of the finding of fact in accordance with rules established by the judges of the Superior Court. The court may (1) render judgment in accordance with the finding; (2) reject the finding and remand the case to the fact-finder who originally heard the matter for a rehearing on all or part of the finding of fact; (3) reject the finding and remand the matter to another fact-finder for a rehearing; (4) reject the finding and revoke the reference or (5) take any other action the court may deem necessary.

(b) The court may correct a finding at any time before the acceptance of the finding, upon the written stipulation of the parties.

(c) The fact-finder shall not be called as a witness, nor shall the decision of the fact-finder be admitted in evidence at another proceeding ordered by the court.

(P.A. 82-441, S. 5, 23.)

History: P.A. 82-441, S. 5 effective July 1, 1983.

Cited. 199 C. 496.

Cited. 20 CA 420.

Sec. 52-549t. Failure to appear. Payment of fees of fact-finder. Dismissal of action. (a) Where a party fails to appear at the hearing, the fact-finder shall nonetheless proceed with the hearing and shall make a finding of fact, as may be just and proper under the facts and circumstances of the action, which shall be filed with the clerk of the court pursuant to section 52-549r for consideration by the court pursuant to section 52-549s. If, pursuant to section 52-549s, the party who failed to appear files an objection to the acceptance of the finding of fact and the objection is sustained by the court, the court may require that party to pay to the court an amount not greater than the total fees then payable to the fact-finder for services in the case.

(b) If all parties fail to appear at the hearing, the fact-finder shall file a request with the court to dismiss the action. If the court does not dismiss the action it may be heard by the fact-finder upon order of the court. Such order may provide for the payment by any party to the court of an amount not greater than one hundred dollars.

(P.A. 82-441, S. 6, 23.)

History: P.A. 82-441, S. 5 effective July 1, 1983.

Cited. 199 C. 496.

Cited. 12 CA 190. Cited. 20 CA 420.

Sec. 52-549u. Arbitration of certain civil actions. Rules of procedure. In accordance with the provisions of section 51-14, the judges of the Superior Court may make such rules as they deem necessary to provide a procedure in accordance with which the court, in its discretion, may refer to an arbitrator, for proceedings authorized pursuant to this chapter, any civil action in which in the discretion of the court, the reasonable expectation of a judgment is less than fifty thousand dollars exclusive of legal interest and costs and in which a claim for a trial by jury and a certificate of closed pleadings have been filed. An award under this section shall not exceed fifty thousand dollars, exclusive of legal interest and costs. Any party may petition the court to become eligible to participate in the arbitration process as provided in this section.

(P.A. 82-441, S. 7, 23; P.A. 97-24, S. 2, 7; 97-40, S. 7.)

History: P.A. 82-441, S. 7 effective July 1, 1983; P.A. 97-24 changed amount in demand from less than $15,000 to a civil action which in discretion of court has reasonable expectation of judgment of less than $50,000, made change in procedure by requiring filing of certificate of closed pleadings, using language identical to that of P.A. 97-40, and added provisions re maximum award of $50,000 and re petition by any party for arbitration, effective January 1, 1998; P.A. 97-40 required filing of certificate of closed pleadings.

Cited. 237 C. 758.

Cited. 9 CA 218. Not unconstitutional as abolishing right to trial by jury; that right is preserved by Sec. 52-549z. 13 CA 189. Cited. 15 CA 185.

Sec. 52-549v. Assignment of arbitrators. Arbitration proceedings. The Chief Court Administrator may assign to each judicial district such number of arbitrators as he deems advisable. The Chief Court Administrator, or his designee, shall designate the holding of arbitration proceedings at such times and in such courthouse facilities as he deems to be in the best interest of court business, taking into consideration the convenience of litigants and their counsel, and the efficient use of courthouse personnel and facilities.

(P.A. 82-441, S. 8, 23.)

History: P.A. 82-441, S. 8 effective July 1, 1983.

Sec. 52-549w. Appointment of arbitrators. Compensation. Powers. (a) Upon publication of a notice in the Connecticut Law Journal, any commissioner of the Superior Court admitted to practice in this state for at least five years, who has civil litigation experience and who is willing and able to act as an arbitrator, may submit his name to the Office of the Chief Court Administrator for approval to be placed on a list of available arbitrators for one or more judicial districts. The criteria for selection and approval of arbitrators shall be promulgated by the judges of the Superior Court. Upon selection and approval by the Chief Court Administrator, for such term as he may fix, the arbitrators shall be sworn or affirmed to try justly and equitably all matters at issue submitted to them. The Chief Court Administrator, in his discretion, may at any time revoke any such approval.

(b) Each arbitrator shall receive one hundred dollars for each day he is assigned to a courthouse facility to conduct proceedings as an arbitrator and an additional twenty-five dollars for each decision filed with the court. In difficult or extraordinary cases, the Chief Court Administrator may, in his discretion, make a further allowance not to exceed two hundred dollars for services rendered attendant to but not part of the hearing.

(c) Such arbitrators shall have the power to: (1) Issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and for the production of books, papers and other evidence, such subpoenas to be served in the manner provided by law for service of subpoenas in a civil action and to be returnable to the arbitrators; (2) administer oaths or affirmations; and (3) determine the admissibility of evidence and the form in which it is to be offered.

(P.A. 82-441, S. 9, 23; P.A. 97-24, S. 3, 7.)

History: P.A. 82-441, S. 9 effective July 1, 1983; P.A. 97-24 amended Subsec. (a) by adding qualification re civil litigation experience, effective January 1, 1998.

Cited. 13 CA 189.

Sec. 52-549x. Decision of arbitrator. Within one hundred twenty days of the completion of the arbitration hearing the arbitrator shall file his decision with the clerk of the court together with sufficient copies thereof for the parties or their counsel. In his decision the arbitrator shall state the number of days on which hearings concerning that case were held before such arbitrator.

(P.A. 82-441, S. 10, 23; P.A. 97-24, S. 4, 7.)

History: P.A. 82-441, S. 10 effective July 1, 1983; P.A. 97-24 deleted requirement of record of proceedings and application of rules of evidence, effective January 1, 1998.

Sec. 52-549y. Failure to appear. Judgment. Motion to open or set aside judgment. Dismissal of action. Payment of arbitration fee. (a) Where a party fails to appear at the hearing, the arbitrator shall nonetheless proceed with the hearing and shall make a decision, as may be just and proper under the facts and circumstances of the action, which shall be entered as a judgment forthwith by the court. Such judgment may not be opened or set aside unless a motion to open or set aside is filed within four months succeeding the date on which it was rendered. If the court opens or sets aside the judgment, it may resubmit the actions to the arbitrator. Any order opening or setting aside the judgment may be upon condition that the moving party pay into the court an amount not greater than the total fees then payable to the arbitrator for services in the case.

(b) If all parties fail to appear at the hearing, the arbitrator shall file a request with the court to dismiss the action. If the court does not dismiss the action, it may be heard by the arbitrator upon order of the court. Such order may provide for the payment by any party to the court of an amount not greater than one hundred dollars.

(P.A. 82-441, S. 11, 23.)

History: P.A. 82-441, S. 11 effective July 1, 1983.

Cited. 13 CA 189.

Sec. 52-549z. Appeal. Trial de novo. (a) A decision of the arbitrator shall become a judgment of the court if no appeal from the arbitrator’s decision by way of a demand for a trial de novo is filed in accordance with subsection (d) of this section.

(b) A decision of the arbitrator shall become null and void if an appeal from the arbitrator’s decision by way of a demand for a trial de novo is filed in accordance with subsection (d) of this section.

(c) For the purpose of this section the word “decision” shall include a decision and judgment rendered pursuant to subsection (a) of section 52-549y, provided the appeal is taken by a party who did not fail to appear at the hearing, and it shall exclude any other decision or judgment rendered pursuant to said section.

(d) An appeal by way of a demand for a trial de novo must be filed with the court clerk within twenty days after the deposit of the arbitrator’s decision in the United States mail, as evidenced by the postmark, and it shall include a certification that a copy thereof has been served on each counsel of record, to be accomplished in accordance with the rules of court. The decision of the arbitrator shall not be admissible in any proceeding resulting after a claim for a trial de novo or from a setting aside of an award in accordance with section 52-549aa.

(e) The Superior Court may refer any proceeding resulting from the filing of a demand for a trial de novo under subsection (d) of this section to a judge trial referee without the consent of the parties, and said judge trial referee shall have and exercise the powers of the Superior Court in respect to trial, judgment and appeal in the case, including a judgment of fifty thousand dollars or more.

(P.A. 82-441, S. 12, 23; P.A. 83-587, S. 65, 96; P.A. 97-24, S. 5, 7; P.A. 01-203, S. 2.)

History: P.A. 82-441, S. 12 effective July 1, 1983; P.A. 83-587 deleted references to Subsec. (e) of the section; P.A. 97-24 amended Subsec. (d) by adding provision re inadmissibility of decision of arbitrator, effective January 1, 1998; P.A. 01-203 amended Subsec. (d) by changing “of the filing” of arbitrator’s decision to “after the deposit” of arbitrator’s decision “in the United States mail, as evidenced by the postmark” and added Subsec. (e) re referral of trial de novo proceedings to judge trial referees without consent of parties and powers of judge trial referees with respect to trial, judgment and appeal, including judgment of $50,000 or more.

Right to trial by jury preserved by this section. 13 CA 189.

Sec. 52-549aa. Setting aside award. Trial de novo. In addition to the absolute right to a trial de novo as provided under section 52-549z, the court in which such award is filed may set aside an award of arbitrators and order a trial de novo in the Superior Court upon proof that the arbitrators acted arbitrarily or capriciously in the course of the hearings before them or that the award was procured by corruption or other undue means.

(P.A. 81-462, S. 12, 13; P.A. 82-441, S. 13, 23; P.A. 97-24, S. 6, 7.)

History: P.A. 82-441 changed effective date of section from July 1, 1982, to July 1, 1983; P.A. 97-24 added reference to absolute right to trial de novo under Sec. 52-549z, effective January 1, 1998.