Alternative Dispute Resolution
Mandatory Court-Annexed Arbitration Program is one of the Alternative Dispute Resolution programs that the Lake County Circuit Court has implemented in accordance with Illinois Supreme Court Rules 86-95. The following is an overview of the arbitration program for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit:
The Arbitration Center is staffed with an Administrator and Administrative Assistant. Delta J. Hawkins is the Administrator and Lorena E. Hernandez is the Administrative Assistant. They are responsible for the day to day operations of the Lake County arbitration program.
Associate Judge Nancy Schuster Waites is presently the presiding judge of the Probate and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
You can reach the Arbitration Staff at: 847.377.3700 or in writing at 415 Washington Street, Suite 106, Waukegan, IL 60085.
The Lake County Arbitration Center is located outside of the main courthouse in downtown Waukegan, at 415 Washington Street, Suite 106. The facilities offer five hearing rooms, two conference rooms, two mediation rooms, a reception area and administrative space.
The Arbitration Center is open from 8:00 am - 4:30 pm Monday through Friday.
CASES ELIGIBLE FOR ARBITRATION
All civil actions are subject to mandatory arbitration of each claim is exclusively for money damages in an amount exceeding $10,000, but not exceeding $50,000, exclusive of interest and costs.
Cases are assigned to the arbitration calendar in three ways:
- at the time of filing a complaint if the complaint is within the dollar amounts listed above;
- if a jury demand is made in a small claims action; and
- if a case is transferred from another division (Chancery, Law Magistrate, Law) after it has been determined that the amounts in controversy are within the jurisdictional limits of the arbitration program.
Arbitration hearing dates are assigned at the time of filing the complaint or, if a case is transferred into the arbitration program, at a status date by the Supervising Judge of the Arbitration Program. If the hearing date is given at the time the case is filed, the time frame for these dates are as follows: if the case is seeking less than $15,000, then the Circuit Clerk's Office assigns a date not less than 120 days from the date the case is filed; if the damages sought are over $15,000 but less than $50,000, then the date assigned is not less than 180 days from the date the complaint is filed.
Click here for a list of arbitration hearings dates
PRIOR TO THE ARBITRATION HEARING
Before an arbitration hearing can proceed, all parties must be served with a summons. The summons contains a return date. All parties must appear in Court on the return date. If any Defendant wants to contest the claims made by the Plaintiff the Defendant must file an appearance and an answer. For the appearance, a form is available in the Office of the Circuit Clerk and someone in the Clerk's office will indicate the appropriate filing fee. For the answer, there is a form available in the Office of the Circuit Clerk. To complete an answer, the Defendant must answer each allegation of the complaint, in writing. For example, if there are six paragraphs in the complaint, the answer must contain either an admission or denial (and reasons why that allegation is denied) of each paragraph contained in the complaint.
Qualifications for the arbitrators are outlined in local Rule 17.02 (b), which states:
All attorneys licensed in Illinois who reside in, maintain offices in, or practice in the Circuit Court of Lake County, shall be eligible for appointment as arbitrators by filing the appropriate form with the Arbitration Administrator. Panel members must certify that they have engaged in the active practice of law for a minimum of two years within the five years immediately preceding the filing of the application. Eligible arbitration panel members shall be certified by attending the Arbitration Seminar prior to active service on an arbitration panel.
Further, Rule 17.02 (c) states that
...Every panel of arbitrators shall be chaired by a member of the bar who has been engaged in trial practice for at least five years within the preceding ten years of the filing of the application, or a retired judge...
If anyone who meets the above criteria is interested in applying to be an arbitrator, contact the Arbitration Center for an application.
Arbitrators are selected to serve on a random basis and are selected for a specific date; 45-60 days notice of the next service date is provided. The arbitrators do not know what cases they will hear or who else is on the panel until they arrive at the Arbitration Center on that service date; this also means that the parties do not know who is on the panel until the case proceeds to the hearing. Once the arbitrators are at the Arbitration Center, they are assigned case(s) and review the case files prior to the commencement of the hearing.
Arbitrators are compensated for their participation in the arbitration program. Effective February 1, 2007, arbitrators are reimbursed $100.00 per hearing. Payment will come via check from the State of Illinois 4-6 weeks after service as an arbitrator.
If an arbitrator has a conflict with the case he/she is assigned, then the Arbitration Administrator should be advised so that panels can be reassigned or an emergency arbitrator can be called.
All motions are to be heard by the Presiding Judge of Probate and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) prior to the arbitration hearing date. Presently uncontested motions are at Park City in Courtroom A on the first and third Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. or on Fridays at 9:00 a.m. or at Park City Courthouse in Courtroom B on Monday at 1:30 p.m. Contested motions are set by the court. [The location, time and presiding judge are subject to change.]
THE ARBITRATION HEARING
At the arbitration hearing, the parties present evidence on the issues in dispute which are those allegations in the complaint which the Defendant has denied in the answer. The arbitrators hear all the facts, evidence, and law and render a written decision outside the presence of the parties. The arbitrators do not get involved in trying to settle the case, or helping the parties work out a payment plan in order to settle a case- that is up to the parties to do prior to the arbitration hearing.
AWARD OF ARBITRATORS
The arbitration panel will make an award promptly upon termination of the hearing. The award shall dispose of all claims for relief. The award on each claim may not exceed the sum of $50,000, exclusive of interest, costs, and attorney's fees. The award will be signed by the arbitrators or a majority of them. A dissenting vote may be noted.
REJECTION OF AWARD
The Award of Arbitrators is not binding; a party has 30 days from the date the award is filed to reject an award. Upon payment to the Clerk of the Circuit Court of the sum of $200 for awards of $30,000 or less or $500 for awards greater than $30,000, any party who was present at the arbitration hearing, either in person or by counsel, may file with the Clerk a written notice of rejection of the award and request to proceed to trial, together with a certificate of service of such notice on all other parties. The filing of a single rejection shall be sufficient to enable all parties to proceed to trial on all issues of the case.
NOTICE OF AWARD
The award is filed immediately with the Clerk of the Circuit Court, who shall serve notice of the award, and the entry of the same on the record, to all parties. The parties of record will receive the Notice of Award and a copy of the Award of Arbitrators in the mail. The Notice will contain the next court date. All parties must appear on the date set in the Notice of Award. If the award has not been rejected, any party may move the court to enter judgment on the award; if the award is rejected, all parties must appear on the date set in the Notice as the Court set the case for trial.
The arbitration program has served the Court, the Bar, and the public well since the program was implemented in July, 1989. The Court is able to divert these civil cases into the arbitration program and reallocate some judicial resources into areas that are in need of more judicial support. The Bar is able to participate as arbitrators, and learn what it is like "on the other side of the bench", which will enable the attorneys who act as arbitrators to be better prepared for their own motions and trials. Also, the Bar needs to work in conjunction with the court in order to have a successful arbitration program. And finally, the public is served by the arbitration program in that the cases are heard in a short time frame, saving the time and expense of formal litigation.
As part of the long range plan, in 1996 the Court looked into having a Alternative Dispute Resolution program for cases that exceed the arbitration limits and subsequently created a mediation program for civil cases that are in excess of $50,000. The mediation program is different from the arbitration program in many ways, including but not limited to the following: the parties select the individual mediator; the parties pay the mediator directly; the mediation can be conducted in a variety of locations (the mediator's office a party's office, a neutral location, at the Arbitration Center, etc.); there is no specified time limit for the mediation conference and the mediator can conduct the mediation in a number of sessions spanning several days. The two most crucial differences between mediation and arbitration is (1) that mediation is voluntary and arbitration is mandatory, and (2) the mediator takes an active role in trying to help the parties resolve their dispute(s), whereas the arbitration panel hears the facts and renders a decision without active participation by the arbitration panel.
The Court sponsored mediator training in October 1996 for the 26 original applicants that were approved to act as mediators. To date, 56 mediators support our mediation program and over 1,000 cases have been referred to the mediation program, with most of those cases settling at the mediation or after a mediation but prior to the trial date.
Review our Civil Case Mediation Program Booklet for more information.
For a list of Certified Mediators for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit; Click here.
The mediation program is supervised by Delta J. Hawkins, who can be reached at 847.377.3700 for more information.