Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County in case of In Re: John B. Fisher v. East Nottingham Township and East Nottingham Township Supervisors, No. 379-P, 1978, Miscellaneous.
Eric S. Coates, for appellants.
Gerald F. Glackin, for appellee.
Judges MacPhail, Colins and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Colins.
[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 384]
East Nottingham Township and East Nottingham Township Supervisors (appellants) are appealing a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County sustaining appellee's preliminary objections to a Petition to Vacate or Modify a common law arbitration award.
The dispute concerns a contract entered into for the reconstruction of three bridges in East Nottingham Township. Appellee was awarded the contract based on specifications made and supplied by the Township Engineer. After starting work, the appellee refused to complete the contract, alleging that the specifications were inadequate. Subsequently, an assumpsit action was commenced against appellants for damages. In the interim, the three bridges were reconstructed by another contractor.
In September of 1978 the dispute was submitted to the American Arbitration Association for binding arbitration pursuant to the terms of the contract. The arbitrator subsequently awarded an amount of Twelve Thousand Three Hundred Seventy-five Dollars ($12,375.00), to appellee, who had been seeking Thirty-Six
[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 385]
Thousand Eleven Dollars ($36,011.00) in damages. This figure represented the net balance saved after appellants had the project finished by another contractor.*fn1
Appellants filed a Petition to Vacate or Modify the award alleging that it was based on clear mistakes of law and fact. Appellants did not allege denial of a hearing, fraud, misconduct, corruption, or other irregularity that would lead to an unjust, inequitable, or unconscionable award. Consequently, appellee filed preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer averring that appellants' Petition to Vacate fails on its face to allege grounds for review of the arbitration award. The Court of Common Pleas of Chester County sustained the preliminary objections and this appeal followed.
The decision of the arbitrator in a common law arbitration is binding and cannot be attacked unless it can be shown that a party was denied a hearing, or that there was fraud, misconduct, corruption, or other irregularity which caused the rendition of an unjust, inequitable or unconscionable award. Friedman v. Friedman, 277 Pa. Superior Ct. 428, 419 A.2d 1221 (1980). The parties here do not dispute that this is a ...