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Civil Arbitration

The Superior Court of Cowlitz County has adopted civil arbitration (CAR) for civil cases, where only a money judgment which is $100,000 or less (excluding costs and interest) is the sole relief requested.

Local rules have been adopted by the court and can be found under the LCAR section of the local rules listed at the link below.

The purpose of mandatory arbitration of civil actions under RCW 7.06 as implemented by the Superior Court Mandatory Arbitration Rules (MAR) is to provide a simplified and economical procedure for obtaining the prompt and equitable resolution of disputes involving claims of  $100,000 or less.  Claims in which the sole relief sought is the establishment, modification, or termination of maintenance or child support payments shall not be subject to mandatory arbitration.  The Mandatory Arbitration Rules as supplemented by these local rules are not designed to address every question which may arise during the arbitration process, and the rules give considerable discretion to the arbitrator. The arbitrator should not hesitate to be informal and expeditious, consistent with the purpose of the statute and rules.

[Adopted effective September 1, 2011; amended September 1, 2018; amended September 1, 2019]

By implementation of these rules the Superior Court of Washington for Cowlitz County authorizes mandatory arbitration under RCW 7.06.010, and approves such arbitrations in civil actions in which no party asserts a claim in excess of $100,000, exclusive of interest and costs under RCW 7.06.020.

[Effective September 1, 2011; emergency amendment January 1, 2019; amended September 1, 2019]

(a) Statement of Arbitrability.  In every civil case after a response has been filed and at any time thereafter that a case meets Mandatory Arbitration guidelines, the parties shall, upon the form approved by the Court (please find the form at www.cowlitzsuperiorcourt.us) request the case be transferred to arbitration.  The party requesting arbitration shall serve a Request for Transfer to Mandatory Arbitration and Statement of Arbitrability on the opposing party.  The Court may transfer a case to arbitration on its own motion if it determines a case meets the requirements of the Mandatory Arbitration Rules.  

An endorsed copy of the Request for Transfer to Mandatory Arbitration and Statement of Arbitrability shall be promptly provided to the Superior Court Administration. 

(b) Response to Request for Transfer to Mandatory Arbitration and Statement of Arbitrability.  Any party disagreeing with the Request for Transfer to Mandatory Arbitration and Statement of Arbitrability shall file and serve a response stating their objections within ten (10) days of service.

A copy of the statement and response shall be furnished or served upon Superior Court Administration by the responding party at the time of filing. In the absence of such a response, the Request for Transfer to Mandatory Arbitration and Statement of Arbitrability shall be deemed correct and a non-responding party shall be deemed to have stipulated to arbitration if the Request for Transfer to Mandatory Arbitration and Statement of Arbitrability provides that the case is subject to arbitration. Otherwise, the case will not be subject to arbitration except by stipulation of the parties or court order.

The approved forms identified in these LMARs can be found at www.cowlitzsuperiorcourt.us.

A fee will be charged for all cases assigned to arbitration.  Business checks or money orders should be made payable to the Clerk’s Office.  No arbitrator will be assigned until the fee is paid in full.

(c) Failure to File Amendments.  A party failing to serve and file an original response to a Request for Transfer to Mandatory Arbitration and Statement of Arbitrability within the time prescribed may do so later only upon leave of Court. A party may amend the Request for Transfer to Mandatory Arbitration and Statement of Arbitrability, or response thereto, at any time prior to assignment of an arbitrator and thereafter only by leave of Court for good cause shown.

[Effective September 1, 2011; amended September 1, 2012; emergency amendment January 1, 2013; amended September 1, 2013; emergency amendment January 1, 2019; amended September 1, 2019]

(a) Generally, Stipulations.  When a case is set for arbitration, a list of five proposed arbitrators will be furnished to the parties. A master list of arbitrators will be made available on request. The parties are encouraged to stipulate to an arbitrator using a form prescribed by the court (please find the form at www.cowlitzsuperiorcourt.us).  In the absence of a stipulation, the arbitrator will be chosen from among the five proposed arbitrators in the manner defined by this rule.

   (b) Response by Parties.  Each party may, within fourteen (14) days after a list of proposed arbitrators has been furnished to the parties, nominate up to two (2) arbitrators and strike up to two (2) arbitrators from the list.  If both parties respond, an arbitrator nominated by both parties will be appointed. If no arbitrator has been nominated by either party, a judge will appoint an arbitrator from among those not stricken.

   (c) Response by Only One Party.  If only one party responds within fourteen (14) days, a judge will appoint an arbitrator nominated by that party.

   (d) No Response.  If neither party responds within fourteen (14) days, a judge will appoint one of the five proposed arbitrators.

   (e) Additional Arbitrators for Additional Parties.  If there are more than two (2) adverse parties, all represented by different attorneys, two (2) additional proposed arbitrators shall be added to the list for each additional party so represented with the above principles of selection to be applied.

[Effective September 1, 2011; amended September 1, 2012; amended September 1, 2019]

(a)  Minimum Qualifications. An arbitrator must be a member of the Washington State Bar Association who has been admitted to the Bar for a minimum of five (5) years, or who is a retired Washington State Judge or Commissioner and will conform to the Superior Court Policy and Procedures for Mandatory Arbitration. By stipulation, the parties to a case may agree to an arbitrator not on the Cowlitz County arbitration panel if the arbitrator so chosen is a duly qualified member of an arbitration panel established under Local Mandatory Arbitration Rules of another county in the State of Washington. The parties may stipulate to a non-lawyer arbitrator upon approval of a judge.

    (b)  Application. A person desiring to serve as an arbitrator shall complete an application on a form prescribed by the Court.  The form shall contain a list of areas of law subject to arbitration whereby the applicant marks the area they are willing to be considered as an arbitrator.  A copy of said application will be available upon request by any party considering the person as an arbitrator and will be mailed to a requesting party at the party's own expense.  The oath of office on the form prescribed by the Court must be completed and filed prior to an appointed applicant being placed on the arbitration panel.

    (c)  Refusal, Disqualification. The appointment of an arbitrator is subject to the right of that person to refuse to serve.  An arbitrator must notify the Superior Court Administration immediately if refusing to serve or if any cause exists for the arbitrator's disqualification from the case upon any of the grounds of interest, relationship, bias or prejudice set forth in CJC Cannon (3) governing the disqualification of judges.

[Effective September 1, 2011; amended September 1, 2012; amended September 1, 2015; amended September 1, 2019]

An arbitrator has the authority to:

     (a)  Motions.  Determine a reasonable time, place and procedure to present a motion before the arbitrator, excluding motions for summary award and involuntary dismissal.

     (b)  Expenses.  Require a party, or attorney advising such party, or both, to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees, caused by the failure of such party or attorney, or both, to obey an order of the arbitrator unless the arbitrator finds that the failure was substantially justified or that other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust. The arbitrator shall make a special award for such expenses and shall file such award with the Clerk of the Superior Court with proof of service on each party. The aggrieved party shall have ten (10) days thereafter to appeal the award of such expenses in accordance with the procedures described in RCW 2.24.050. If, within ten (10) days after the award is filed, no party appeals, a judgment shall be entered in a manner described generally under MAR 6.3.

     (c)  Attorney's Fees.  Award attorney's fees as authorized by these LMARs, by contract or by law.

[Effective September 1, 2011; amended September 1, 2019]

(a)  Additional Discovery.  In determining when additional discovery, beyond that directly authorized by MAR 4.2, is reasonably necessary, the arbitrator shall balance the benefits of discovery against the burdens and expenses.  The arbitrator shall consider the nature and complexity of the case, the amount in controversy, values at stake, the discovery that has already occurred, the burdens on the party from whom discovery is sought, and the possibility of unfair surprise which may result if discovery is restricted.  Authorized discovery shall be conducted in accordance with the Superior Court civil rules, except that motions concerning discovery shall be determined by the arbitrator.

   (b)  Discovery Pending.  Discovery pending at the time the case is assigned to an arbitrator is stayed, pending order from the arbitrator, or except as the parties may stipulate, or except as authorized by MAR 4.2.

[Effective September 1, 2011; amended September 1, 2019]

An arbitration hearing may be scheduled at any reasonable time and place chosen by the arbitrator; except by stipulation with permission of the arbitrator, the hearing shall be scheduled to take place not later than ninety (90) days from the date of assignment to the arbitrator. The arbitrator may grant a continuance without Court approval. The arbitrator shall give reasonable notice of the hearing date on a Notice of Arbitration Hearing Date form approved by the Court, and any continuance on an Order of Continuance of Arbitration Hearing Date form approved by the Court to the Superior Court Administration.  Forms can be found on the Court’s website at www.cowlitzsuperiorcourt.us.

[Effective September 1, 2011; amended September 1, 2012; amended September 1, 2019]

    Generally.  In addition to the requirements of MAR 5.2, each party shall also furnish the arbitrator with copies of pleadings and other documents contained in the court file which that party deems relevant.  The court file shall remain with the County Clerk.  The arbitrator shall strictly enforce the provisions of MAR 5.2 and is encouraged to withhold permission to present evidence at the time of hearing if the parties have failed to comply with this rule.

[Effective September 1, 2011; amended September 1, 2012; amended September 1, 2019]

(a)  Form.  The award shall be prepared on an Arbitration Award form approved by the Court and filed with the County Clerk, along with proof of service on the parties.  The form can be found on the Court’s website at www.cowlitzsuperiorcourt.us.

   (b)  Return of Exhibits.  When an award is filed, the arbitrator shall return all exhibits to the parties who offered them during the hearing.

[Effective September 1, 2011; amended September 1, 2019]

A request by an arbitrator for an extension of time for the filing of an award shall be presented to Superior Court Administration for review by a judge; the filing of an extension may be extended up to an additional fourteen (14) days.  The arbitrator shall give the parties notice of any extension granted. Recurring delays in the filing of awards will result in the removal of the arbitrator from the panel.

[Effective September 1, 2011; amended September 1, 2012; amended September 1, 2019]

Presentation.  A judgment on an award shall be presented at the Ex Parte Docket by any party on notice in accordance with MAR 6.3 no sooner than twenty (20) days after the award is entered if no party has sought a trial de novo.

[Effective September 1, 2011; amended September 1, 2012; amended September 1, 2019]

Request.  The Request for Trial de Novo and Sealing of Award shall be filed with the County Clerk on such form as approved by the Court.  Form can be found on the Court’s website at www.cowlitzsuperiorcourt.us.  A copy of these forms being filed shall be provided to the Superior Court Administration.

[Effective September 1, 2011; amended September 1, 2012; amended September 1, 2019]

If a case, not otherwise subject to mandatory arbitration, is transferred to arbitration by stipulation, the arbitrator may grant any relief which could have been granted if the case were determined by a judge. Stipulated arbitrations are not governed by these rules unless expressly agreed to by the parties. Compensation of arbitrators performing stipulated arbitrations is the responsibility of the parties.

[Effective September 1, 2011; amended September 1, 2019]

These rules are known and cited as the Cowlitz County Superior Court Mandatory Arbitration Rules. LMAR is the official abbreviation.

[Effective September 1, 2011; amended September 1, 2019]

(a)  Generally.  Arbitrators shall be compensated in the same amount and manner as judges pro tempore of Superior Court. The maximum compensation is capped at ten (10) hours times the applicable hourly rate as provided by the Administrative Office of the Courts, unless otherwise approved by a Superior Court Judge.

   (b)  Form.  When the award is filed, the arbitrator shall submit, to the Superior Court Administrator, two original requests for payment on a form prescribed by the Court within sixty (60) days of the filing of the award. The appropriate form can be found on the Court’s website, www.cowlitzsuperiorcourt.us. The Superior Court Administrator shall determine an amount of compensation and costs to be paid, subject to final review and approval by a judge.  Compensation to the arbitrator and cost reimbursement shall be pursuant to paragraph 8.5(a)(above) and standards set by the Court.

[Adopted effective September 1, 2011; amended effective September 1, 2012.]

(a)  Generally.  The Court Administrator, under the Superior Court Judges, shall supervise arbitration under these rules and perform any additional duties which may be delegated by the judges.

   (b)  Administrative Committee.  There shall be an Administrative Committee composed of two (2) judges chosen by the Presiding Judge and three members of the Washington State Bar Association chosen by the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Bar Association.  The members of the Committee shall serve for staggered three-year terms and may be re-appointed.

   (c)  Powers and Duties.  The Administrative Committee shall have the power and duty to:

  • Select its chairperson and provide for its procedures;
  • Make recommendations to the Presiding Judge for removal of a person from a panel of arbitrators. Such recommendation for removal must be in writing and state the basis for the request;
  • Review the administration and operation of the arbitration program periodically and make recommendations as it deems appropriate to improve the program.

[Effective September 1, 2011; amended September 1, 2019]

Civil arbitration forms can be found at the link below.

The Cowlitz County Superior Court administration is managed by a committee of two judges and 3 attorneys. Administrative support is provided by the Superior Court. A list of approved arbitrators can be obtained by contacting court administration at 360-577-3085.
If you are an attorney with five years experience and are a member in good standing with the Washington State Bar association and wish to become an approved arbitrator, please contact court administration for an application form.

 

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TELEPHONE: (360) 577-3085
TTY (800) 883-6388 OR 7115

HALL OF JUSTICE
312 SW FIRST AVENUE
KELSO, WA 98626
 
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