Southwest Barricades, LLC v. Traffic Management, Inc. (6/10/2016)

June 27, 2016

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One holds that Rule 60(c) cannot be used to set aside an arbitration award that is not entered as a final judgment.

Southwest Barricades prevailed in a compulsory arbitration.  The arbitration award was never entered as a judgment by the court.  Traffic Management appealed the arbitration award in superior court but its appeal was dismissed as untimely.  Traffic Management moved for relief from judgement under Ariz. R. Civ. P. 60(c) on the basis of excusable neglect for misconstruing the deadlines and also newly discovered evidence.  The court granted relief and Traffic Management prevailed after a new arbitration and jury trial.  Southwest Barricades appealed the court’s Rule 60(c) order to set aside the original arbitration award.

By its terms the relief in Rule 60(c) applies only to a “final judgment, order or proceedings.”  The parties did not seek entry of judgment on the arbitration award and the arbitrator does not have the power to dispose of the case.  The rules no longer provide for an arbitrator’s award to convert into a judgment automatically without application.  Rule 60(c) also does not apply to a request to set aside a non-final arbitration award based on excusable neglect.  Accordingly, the Court of Appeals remanded after vacating the Rule 60(c) minute entry and the later proceedings. 

Judge Gemmill authored the opinion; Presiding Judge Gould and Judge Downie concurred.