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Illinois Arbitration Center's Failure To Provide Notice Allowed Court To Vacate Arbitration Default Judgment

Plaintiff's insurer filed a subrogation action which was placed on the court's arbitration docket. The defendant failed to appear, and an arbitration award was entered in favor of plaintiff for $8,142.52 in property damage and $7,774 for personal injuries. The defendant filed a motion to vacate the award arguing he did not receive notice of the hearing date. The trial court granted the motion, and the case eventually went to trial where a jury found in favor of the defendant.

The First District affirmed the trial court's vacation of the arbitration award. It noted that the failure of a party to attend mandatory arbitration constitutes a waiver of that party's right to reject the award and represents a consent to the entry of judgment against it. However, a party absent from the arbitration has the burden of showing that his or her absence was reasonable or the result of extenuating circumstances. The decision to grant a motion to vacate is within the discretion of the trial court. Had the arbitration panel properly inquired into whether defense counsel received notice of the hearing, the default would not have been entered. Therefore, the trial court did not abuse its discretion. Glover v. Fitch, 2015 IL App (1st) 130827.

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