STEVEN D. McMORRIS
Special Master – Arbitration Commissioner
P.O. BOX 218 • Minden • Nevada • 89423
ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
Information regarding the Ninth Judicial District Court arbitration program and other alternate dispute resolution methods is set forth below.
Alternate dispute resolution(ADR) programs provide effective methods for resolving disputes in addition to the traditional and formal adversarial litigation process. ADR promotes several important interests. Litigant’s interests are served by addressing and resolving disputes in less time and at less expense than by trial. The public interest is served by removing cases from the formal trial calendar that need not be fully litigated before a judge or jury. Besides the obvious cost savings, the courts have the opportunity to bring the more complex cases to trial earlier.
As part of its case management system, the Judges of the Ninth Judicial District Court provide several ADR methods including mediation, settlement conferences, arbitration and just recently the short trial program.
In 1994, the Ninth Judicial District Court adopted the Nevada Arbitration Rules (NAR) as published by the Nevada Supreme Court. The arbitration program is court annexed which means that it is sponsored, funded and administered by the District Court.
Application: As expressed in NAR 2(a), “The purpose of the program is to provide a simplified procedure for obtaining a prompt and equitable resolution of certain civil matters.” The arbitration program applies just to civil actions where money is the only issue in dispute. Typical examples of such cases are money claims for personal injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents and money actions for failure to perform according to a contract. This program provides a method for resolving cases that do not involve substantial sums of money but exceed the maximum sums that may be awarded in Small Claims or Justice Courts.
As stated in “Rule 4” of the Ninth Judicial District Coun(NJDCR), all civil cases seeking just monetary relief that have a probable jury award value not in excess of $50,000, exclusive of interest and costs, are presumed under the arbitration rules to be in the arbitration program.
Exemption Request: If a party to a money only lawsuit believes that their case has a probable jury award value in excess of $50,000, the party must request that the matter be exempted from the arbitration program as required under NAR 5. This is accomplished by filing a formal exemption request certifying and stating a summary of facts which supports the exemption request. The Arbitration Commissioner will determine whether the action should be exempted based on the facts presented. All arbitration program documents are filed with the Clerk of the Court. However, during the arbitration all discovery, pre-hearing procedural and evidentiary motions are filed with and heard by the arbitrator.
Arbitration Process: Unless the monetary action is exempted from the arbitration program, the Arbitration Commissioner will send a “Selection of Arbitrator” list to the litigants from which an arbitrator will be selected and appointed as provided in NAR 6. The potential arbitrators are selected from a pool of experienced attorneys or persons with other professional expertise.
Once the arbitrator is appointed, the arbitration proceeds as set forth in the arbitration rules. Based on the evidence presented at the arbitration hearing, the arbitrator issues an award which is filed with the Clerk of the Court. The decision of the arbitrator is not binding and either party to the action may file a written request for a trial de novo as provided in NAR 18. Otherwise, the award is reduced to a judgment which is issued by the District Court Judge.
Frequently asked questions about the arbitration program
What is the monetary threshold for arbitration cases in the Ninth Judicial District Court arbitration program?
Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) per plaintiff. See, NJDCR 4 & NAR 5(b)(l)(C). Litigants may stipulate to a higher monetary threshold in order to arbitrate the action.
Will a request for exemption from arbitration stated in the caption of the complaint and/or in the body of the complaint that the case has a value in excess of $50,000 be entertained by the Arbitration Commissioner and Court?
No. A separate exemption request certifying and stating a summary of facts including any evidentiary support necessary to illustrate the party’s contentions must be filed with the Clerk of the Court. See, NAR 5(b)(3). NAR 5(a)(l) lists the actions that may be exempted categorically by designation in the caption of the complaint.
Short Trial Program
The Ninth Judicial District Court has adopted in part the Nevada Short Trial Program provided the parties to the action agree to be bound by the results of the short trial as set forth in NSTR 32. Otherwise trials de novo will be processed in the ordinary course of the court’s business. See, NJDCR 28.
Who do I contact for information about the arbitration and short trial programs?
Special Master Steve McMorris serves the Court as Arbitration Commissioner and administers the Short Trial Program. You may contact him at (775) 783-1479 or (775) 782-9820.