In part two of my blog series discussing the differences between mediation and arbitration, I discussed the Arbitration process. In part three I will discuss the Pennsylvania mandatory Arbitration program.

In all cases filed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, you must include a paragraph in the Complaint that originates the lawsuit stating whether the value of the case is “in excess” or “not in excess” of $50,000. The purpose of this paragraph is to determine whether the case goes to arbitration or to trial. All cases that are filed that are stated to be “not in excess” of $50,000 go through the mandatory arbitration system.

In this process the case is heard by a panel of three lawyers appointed by the court system. Medical records, and other types of documentary evidence that require live testimony in a jury trial can be introduced into evidence informally. The panel decides all legal and factual issues in the case and renders a written verdict. The verdict can be appealed by any party for any reason, however, historically, the system works quite well in resolving many of the smaller cases that would otherwise clog the court system.  If the case is appealed, the matter is scheduled for trial. When the case is tried all the legal and factual issues are presented to the jury and Judge and the prior decision of the Arbitration panel has no bearing on the outcome.