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Caffey v. Lees

Superior Court of Rhode Island

June 3, 2016

JOSEPH CAFFEY and OMNI DEVELOPMENT CORP.
v.
CHRISTOPHER LEES

         Providence County Superior Court

          For Plaintiff: George T. Gilson, Esq.

          For Defendant: Ronald J. Resmini, Esq.

          DECISION

          LANPHEAR, J. JUSTICE/MAGISTRATE.

         This matter is before the Court on Joseph Caffey and Omni Development Corporation's (Petitioners) motion to vacate an arbitration award entered on December 2, 2015. Defendant Christopher Lees objects to Petitioners' motion and moves to confirm the arbitration award. The arbitrator found that the Petitioners were liable to Mr. Lees for injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident.

         I. Facts and Travel

         Mr. Lees was injured in a motor vehicle accident that occurred on May 28, 2011 in Seekonk, Massachusetts. A vehicle driven by Joseph Caffey struck the rear of the vehicle driven by Mr. Lees.

         On February 11, 2014, the parties executed a binding arbitration agreement and agreed on the selection of the arbitrator. They also agreed that the minimum award to Mr. Lees would be $9000 and that the maximum award would be $160, 000.

         The two-day arbitration hearing began on November 25, 2014 and was concluded on February 4, 2015. The arbitrator issued his decision on December 2, 2015. He found that there was no contributory negligence on the part of Mr. Lees, and he awarded Mr. Lees damages in the amount of $190, 860, plus interest and costs. Arbitration Award at 1. Petitioners filed a Petition to Vacate Arbitration Award on December 29, 2015. Mr. Lees filed an Objection on January 13, 2016. A hearing was conducted on April 21, 2016.

         II Standard of Review

         The applicable statute enumerates the limited circumstances under which a court may vacate the award of an arbitrator. G.L. 1956 § 10-3-12 provides that:

"the court must make an order vacating the award upon the application of any party to the arbitration:
"(1) Where the award was procured by corruption, fraud or undue means.
"(2) Where there was evident partiality or corruption on the part of the arbitrators, or either of them.
"(3) Where the arbitrators were guilty of misconduct in refusing to postpone the hearing, upon sufficient cause shown, or in hearing legally immaterial evidence, or refusing to hear evidence pertinent and material to the controversy, or of any other misbehavior by which ...

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