On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Docket No. L-4736-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted February 14, 2011 -- Decided
Before Judges Rodriguez and Grall.
Precision Builders (Precision) appeals from the January 22, 2010 order denying its motion opposing confirmation of a $11,905 commercial arbitration award in favor of Victorya Siding, Inc. (Victorya). We affirm.
Victorya, a subcontractor, sued Precision, a general contractor, who refused to pay $11,905 on a bank account for goods and services. Precision answered and counterclaimed for $10,593.60 alleging that Victorya: failed to complete the work in a workmanlike manner; used inferior materials; and deviated from the plans and specifications of the project. Precision alleged receiving complaints from several of its customers about the quality of Victorya's work. Precision had to: remedy the problems and replace materials at its own expense; repair damages caused by Victorya; and hire new subcontractors to complete the work.
The parties were noticed to participate in non-binding arbitration pursuant to Rule 4:21A. After an adjournment, the arbitration hearing was set for September 23, 2009. Precision did not appear for the arbitration. Precision's trial counsel, who also represents it on appeal, asserts that the Monmouth Vicinage Arbitration Coordinator advised him that he did not have to appear. Kathleen R. Wall, the appointed arbitrator, entered an award in favor of Victorya for $11,905.
Victorya moved for confirmation of the arbitration award and entry of judgment pursuant to Rule 4:21A-6. Precision opposed the motion and "challenged the arbitration award." In opposition Precision's counsel certified that he sought his adversary James M. Siciliano's consent to adjourn the September 23, 2009 arbitration date. However, there was no response to his request. He further certified that:
14. On September 23, 2009, I spoke with Millicent Garland (Millie) in the court arbitration section and advised her of my inability to get a response from Mr. Siciliano.
15. I also faxed her a copy of a letter I faxed to Mr. Siciliano's office concerning the same (Exhibit C).
16. At that time Millie informed me that Judge Bauman would be hearing the matter and that I did not have to come.
17. I relied on Millie's statement and did not appear.
18. Later that day, I called the court back to find out what happened and was informed that Mr. Siciliano had in fact appeared and was given an award by the arbitrator.
Judge David F. Bauman denied vacation of the arbitration award; and instead, entered an order confirming it. On appeal, Precision contends that: Precision's counsel's reason for not appearing constitutes good cause and Precision has a meritorious defense, therefore Victorya's motion to confirm the arbitration award must be denied. Precision also contends ...