Petrucelli v. Travelers Property Casualty Insurance Company
Connecticut General Statutes §52-416 requires the court to enforce the language set forth in the parties' arbitration agreement regarding the time within which an award must be rendered and the parties are free to create their own arbitration agreement and to modify the statutory requirement that extensions be in writing. The plaintiff, Jean Petrucelli, appealed from the trial court's judgment granting the defendant Travelers Property Casualty Insurance Company's motion to dismiss her application to vacate the arbitration award. The plaintiff first claimed that the court erred in finding that the arbitration panel issued a timely award under C.G.S. §52-416. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The evidence in the record supported the court's finding that the arbitration hearing was held open until Nov. 8, 2011, when it was mutually convenient for the arbitrators to meet. The court did not err in finding the Nov. 29, 2011 award timely. Paragraph 2 of the parties' arbitration agreement provided that "[t]he arbitrators shall render a written decision…no more than thirty (30) days after the date on which the hearing or hearings are closed." The trial court referenced paragraph 2 and the notes of Jeffrey Somers, panel chairman, as evidence of an express written agreement to keep the hearing open until the arbitrators met to discuss the case. The court also cited defense counsel's Oct. 7, 2011 email to the plaintiff and arbitrators, stating, "[p]er our telephone conversation on this date, I agree that the arbitration decision will be rendered within 30 days of the date that the arbitrators meet sometime next week." The fact that the arbitrators were unable to meet the week following the email did not render the award untimely. The parties were informed that the hearing would be held open until the arbitrators met and the plaintiff then made no objection. Secondly, the court properly granted the motion to dismiss the plaintiff's application. C.G.S. §52-420(b) required the plaintiff to file her application within 30 days after the award was made and the parties were notified. The plaintiff received notice on Dec. 6, 2011 and filed her application outside the 30 day period on Jan. 9, 2012. The court properly concluded that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over her claim.