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What If I am Dissatisfied with Arbitration?

Discussion in 'Small Claims & Municipal Court' started by CatBlue2004, Jan 15, 2009.

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  1. CatBlue2004

    CatBlue2004 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    My jurisdiction is: New York, NY

    I returned unused diving equipment to a store, but since I paid cash they decided to give me a hard time about providing a refund. I took them to small claims court and we were heard by an abitrator. We were told there is no appeal after the decision, but is that always the case? My claim was filed against the store owner, but if I don't get the full refund can I file another claim against the store manager? The manager was the one who denied the refund in the first place, but I did not include them in the first claim. I appreciate your thoughts, thank you.
     
  2. dee_dub

    dee_dub Moderator

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    Usually you don't go to arbitration unless you agree to go to arbitration, and if you do, it's binding. Otherwise arbitration would be useless because the dissatisfied party would always appeal.

    The manager didn't get any money from you in the first place, so he doesn't owe you anything. You gave your money to the store, and that's properly who your claim was against.
     
  3. CatBlue2004

    CatBlue2004 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you for your reply. I am just worried because at the very end of the arbitration the store owner was literally schmoozing with the arbitrator. He was chatting her up about being a lawyer before but giving it up to "run a dive shop and live the dream." They were talking and laughing and she was smiling and I felt really uncomfortable. It didn't seem like conversation that should be taking place if we were all done presenting our evidence and it was done.
     
  4. dee_dub

    dee_dub Moderator

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    A biased arbitrator might be one reason to appeal the arbitration decision. I suspect that doesn't rise to the level of bias, but you might want to consult an attorney.
     
  5. seniorjudge

    seniorjudge Super Moderator

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    Arbitration awards are virtually impossible to reverse on appeal.
     
  6. CatBlue2004

    CatBlue2004 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hello all. Even though she said we would hear within 30 days, I already received the arbitrator's judgement in the mail. It was dated on January 14th, the same evening we were all in court, so she made her decision that very night and it was for the store owner. This store took my payment in cash and has had the returned goods for almost two months and now I have nothing. I knew something was not right and impartial when it was over and those two were schmoozing and laughing.

    What are my options now? Can I file another claim in small claims court or do I have to contact an attorney now?
     
  7. dee_dub

    dee_dub Moderator

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    You can file a new claim, but the store will (rightly) apply to have it struck because the case has already been heard. If you disagree with the arbitration, you can file an appeal. From what I've heard so far, I highly doubt an appeal will be successful. Issuing a decision the same night is not a problem, and conversing with one of the parties is not a problem.

    Presumably the arbitrator issued reasons for her decision - what did she say?
     
  8. CatBlue2004

    CatBlue2004 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hello again. Alas, the arbitrator did not list any reason. Aside from her signature and the date, the only other mark was a check in the box giving the judgment to the defendant.

    Her chatty, flirty behavior at the end aside, I suspect that she may have taken the path of least resistance and decided to leave it up to us to wrangle out. At the very end the store owner gave her a line about wanting to make his customers happy and that he would be willing to exchange any item I was not happy with, which was one of his more annoying lies. She asked me if he had said this before and I let her know he definitely had NOT. Not only had I been denied a refund on any of the items, I was told by the manager they would not exchange the dive computer either because it was "working just fine." Further, it had been almost two months since I returned the items to his store. I was the one who visited the store twice and called twice to try and work things out (I only spoke with the manager those times). He never once contacted me and I let the arbitrator know that this is the first he ever mentioned doing anything for me regarding the items (one which was too big and the others did not work).

    My thanks again to everyone who offered advice. This has been so troubling! I am going to contact an attorney (finally) and I will definitely file a report with the Attorney General's office.
     
  9. dee_dub

    dee_dub Moderator

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    So remind him of his statement to the arbitrator, and return the merchandise.
     
  10. CatBlue2004

    CatBlue2004 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I already did; I returned the merchandise to his store manager the first week of December. He has had everything all this time (along with my cash payment). He offered a 10% discount and he waived the sales tax if I paid cash, so I did, to the tune of $2,096. Boy, did that teach me a lesson. NEVER pay cash for big ticket items!

    Which reminds me, is that an issue I can raise with the Attorney General's office? That he did not charge sales tax (is that legal?)
     
  11. dee_dub

    dee_dub Moderator

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    I'm confused. Why would he tell the arbitrator he would be willing to exchange, if you'd already exchanged everything? You returned the stuff, but he didn't give you a refund?

    What is it you want? He's offered to exchange, and he's accepted the stuff back. Get the exchange.
     
  12. CatBlue2004

    CatBlue2004 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I had not exchanged anything, nor did I agree to. I wanted a refund. I returned the items to the store within the time frame quoted on the receipts, but since I paid cash the store manager decided to give me a hard time and denied the refund. During the smalls claims hearing the store owner said he would be willing to exchange for other items, but that was not what I wanted and I told the arbitrator this quite specifically.

    They have acted dishonorably, doing anything to deny my rightful refund. I have no desire to continue any further business relationship, which is exactly what would happen if I accepted any items in exchange (or store credit). I would be stuck with them for the life of the scuba equipment. If there are any problems down the road I would have to go back to this same store to have it dealt with. You can't return the items directly to the manufacturer; scuba equipment must be returned by the licensed dealer/store.
     

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