Officially released December 18, 2018.
In short: arbitrators are provided substantial deference under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-418.
The parties entered into an agreement to submit to binding arbitration to resolve several issues in their dissolution of marriage. They agreed not record such proceeding. Wife filed motions to vacate the arbitration award. The trial court denied Wife’s motion and incorporated the award into the Judgment.
Wife appealed arguing that the arbitrator (1) improperly precluded testimony of an expert witness in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-418(a)(3), and (2) favored one party over the other in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-418(a)(2). The first claim, as to the preclusion of testimony is a question of law, over which the Appellate Court exercised plenary review. The latter claim, based on favoring one party over the other, was an issue of factual findings, over which the Appellate Court operated under the clearly erroneous standard.
The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment dismissing the motion to vacate and incorporating the arbitration award. As to the first claim, the Appellate Court noted arbitrators are accorded substantial discretion as to the admissibility of evidence and indicated that there was no indication that the testimony of the expert would have had any effect on the outcome of the case. As to the second claim, The Appellate Court relied upon the length of the proceeding and the decision itself to determine that Wife had a full and fair opportunity to present her case and found that Wife had presented no credible evidence of bias.