Case Caption: Tremcorp Holdings, Inc. v. Scott Harris, et al.Case Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2016-0013Date: 07/19/2017Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: Summary:

An order denying as untimely a motion to vacate an arbitration award is reversed. While the motion was filed 140 days after delivery of an initial arbitration award, the arbitrator considered the issue of an attorney's fee award part of his assignment, and the motion to vacate was filed 85 days after he ruled on the fee application, ending the arbitration proceedings. Under the "complete arbitration rule," where an arbitrator believes the assignment is completed, the award is final and appealable and when the arbitrator does not believe the assignment is completed, the award is not final and appealable. Here it is clear that the arbitrator did not believe that he was through with the case after issuing the initial arbitration award, since he specifically required the parties to submit additional briefing so that he could determine whether attorney's fees should be awarded, and he proceeded to issue a later order on that topic. Further, in this particular case the parties agreed that attorney's fees were an integral part of the arbitration award, and that the ultimate determination as to whether fees would be awarded was substantive rather than ministerial. As a result, the period in which to file motions seeking to have the award vacated started to run on the date of the fee decision by the arbitrator—the date that the all substantive disputes in the case had been resolved. Thus, the motion to vacate on the 85th day following that ruling complied with the three-month time period for moving to vacate an award, as set forth in the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 12. Because it was therefore timely, the Superior Court's February 16, 2016 order denying the motion to vacate on grounds of untimeliness is reversed, and the case is remanded.

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