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    Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments on Intermediate Arbitration Rulings

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    Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments on Intermediate Arbitration Rulings

    Oct. 2, 2012 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear oral argument this week to clarify whether an arbitration panel’s intermediate rulings can be challenged in circuit court before the panel renders a final judgment, a question of first impression in Wisconsin.

    Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments on 
Intermediate Arbitration Rulings IDS Property Casualty Insurance Co. disputed coverage under an uninsured motorist claim by Mary Marlowe, who was involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist. The parties agreed to arbitrate, and IDS requested medical records and an independent medical examination. Marlow refused to comply, arguing that discovery in arbitration is limited to depositions.

    IDS argues that Wisconsin’s statutes governing discovery in civil litigation apply to allow its requested discovery because the arbitration agreement specifically states that the “local rules of law as to procedure and evidence will apply” to disputes between the parties.

    An arbitration panel concluded that discovery was not limited to depositions because the parties agreed to allow discovery under the local laws of procedure and evidence.

    In circuit court, IDS argued that the arbitration panel, not the circuit court, has authority to determine the scope of discovery, and moved the circuit court to compel arbitration. The circuit court denied IDS’s request and declared that its discovery request was limited to depositions.

    The appeals court reversed, ruling that Marlowe could not challenge the arbitration panel’s discovery ruling by seeking a declaratory judgment until the panel rendered a final award. However, it noted that the question is one of first impression in Wisconsin.

    It is expected that a decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court will further clarify the holding of Borst v. Allstate Ins. Co., 2006 WI 70, 291 Wis. 2d 361, 717 N.W.2d 42, in which the court explained that parties should explicitly address discovery in arbitration agreements or reference established alternative dispute resolution rules that address how discovery should be handled.

    Other Cases Scheduled for Oral Argument This Month

    In State v. Lemoine, 2010AP2597-CR, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will consider whether a defendant’s statements to police were voluntary and properly admitted, or if the admission of involuntary statements not properly admitted was harmless error.

    In State v. Avery, 2010AP1952, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will examine whether new evidence from digitally enhanced videotape is grounds for a new trial. Brian Avery was convicted on two counts of armed robbery as a party to a crime. He claims new video enhancements applied to surveillance video show he was not the true culprit.

    In Bethke v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., 2010AP3153, the Wisconsin Supreme Court may decide whether the victims of an auto accident are entitled to underinsured motorist coverage, or whether the policy legally excluded self-insured vehicles owned by a rental car company.

    In Jamerson v. Dept. of Children & Families, 2011AP593, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will review an agency determination that Angela Jamerson was permanently prohibited from obtaining a group childcare license under Wisconsin’s new caregiver law for convictions relating to food stamps and public assistance nearly 20 years prior.

    In State v. Novy, 2011AP407-09-CR, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will examine two interesting questions: 1) whether the trial court erred in allowing fingerprint evidence to be admitted in the state’s rebuttal when the court had previously ruled the evidence was not admissible; 2) whether the defendant was deprived of the right to an impartial jury because the circuit court refused to strike a juror who was sleeping during defense counsel’s closing argument.

    In Schinner v. Gundrum, 2011AP564, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will review whether a homeowner’s insurance policy covers the 21-year-old host of a drinking party who provided alcohol to an underage guest who assaulted another guest.

    In City of Menasha v. Gracia, 2011AP813-814, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will examine whether police entry into the defendant’s bedroom while investigating an incident that led to an operating while intoxicated conviction was lawful under the community caretaker doctrine.