CPLR § 7507, Time to vacate or modify an arbitration award

CPLR § 7507.  Award; form; time; delivery1

Matter of Lowe (Erie Ins. Co.), 2008 NY Slip Op 07735 (App. Div., 4th Dept.)

The straightforward but apparent issue of first impression in an
appellate court in New York is whether the 90-day statute of
limitations set forth in CPLR 7511 (a) begins to run on the date on
which the arbitrator's decision was mailed to petitioner or the date on
which it was received by petitioner or his or her agent. We conclude
that the operative measuring date is the date on which the decision was
by the petitioner or his or her agent, and we therefore
conclude that this proceeding was timely commenced.

Article 75 of the CPLR governs review of arbitration proceedings and
provides that an application to vacate or modify an arbitration award
"may be made by a party within ninety days after its delivery to him
[or her]" (CPLR 7511 [a]). The statute does not define "delivery," but
CPLR 7507 provides that the arbitrator "shall deliver a copy of the
award to each party in the manner provided in the agreement, or, if no
provision is so made, personally or by registered or certified mail,
return receipt requested."
An Insurance Department Regulation
concerning master arbitration procedures provides that "[t]he parties
shall accept as delivery of the award the placing of the award or a
true copy thereof in the mail, addressed to the parties or their
designated representatives at their last known addresses, or by any
other form of service permitted by law" (11 NYCRR 65-4.10 [e] [3]).

Although, as noted, this appears to be an issue of first impression, we
conclude that case law supports the interpretation that delivery must
be construed as the date on which the award was received. For example,
in Matter of Case v Monroe Community Coll. (89 NY2d 438, 439-440, rearg denied
89 NY2d 1087), the issue before the Court of Appeals was whether
service of an arbitration award upon the petitioner's union
representative constituted service upon the petitioner for purposes of
measuring the timeliness of an appeal from the award. In determining
that the petitioner was indeed in effect thereby served, the Court
explained that " once counsel has appeared in a matter a Statute of
Limitations or time requirement cannot begin to run unless that counsel
is served with the determination or the order or judgment sought to be
reviewed' " (id. at 441, quoting Matter of Bianca v Frank, 43 NY2d 168, 173).

In further support of our decision, we note that several cases have
explicitly used the terms "receipt" and "received" in discussing the
90-day period set forth in CPLR 7511 (a)2

Less recent cases have used language that essentially is analogous to the terms "receipt" or "received" (Lopez v Coughlin,
220 AD2d 349, 350 ["Petitioner's application challenging the
arbitration award was properly dismissed for failure to bring it within
90 days after service of the award on petitioner's attorneys"]; Matter of Malatestinic v Board of Educ. of City of N.Y.,
132 AD2d 661, 662 ["(The) statute began to run on . . . the date upon
which the petitioner was originally notified of the denial of her
request"]; Matter of Levy [Allstate Ins. Co.], 63 AD2d 982, 983
["(The operative date was date on which the arbitration) award . . .
was transmitted to the parties"]). We acknowledge that, in Robinson v City of New York (237 AD2d 127, 128, lv denied
90 NY2d 801), the First Department held that the "[p]etitioner was
properly deemed served with the arbitration award upon its mailing to
the attorney who represented her at the arbitration hearing." The issue
in that case, however, was whether the attorney's delay in forwarding
the award to the petitioner served to extend the petitioner's 90 days
under CPLR 7511 (a) to move to vacate the award, not whether delivery
of the award was the date on which it was mailed to the attorney.

In attempting to distinguish the cases that use the word
"received," respondent contends that those cases involved labor
arbitration awards rather than no-fault master arbitration awards and
thus are not governed by Insurance Department Regulation (11 NYCRR) §
65-4.10. We reject that contention, for two reasons. First, 11 NYCRR
65-4.10 (e) (3) simply sets forth the method of the delivery of the
award to the parties. It does not define "delivery" as it is used in
CPLR 7511 (a). Second, we agree with petitioner that, once a party
commences a proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 75, the procedures set
forth in that article control over those set forth in the Insurance
Department Regulations. Thus, even if 11 NYCRR 65-4.10 (e) (3)
constitutes an attempt to define "delivery" under CPLR 7511 (a), such
an attempt would be improper. Were we to accept respondent's
contention, the 90-day statute of limitations under CPLR 7511 (a) would
have different measuring dates, depending on what type of arbitration
was sought to be reviewed, and that would be an untenable distinction.

1.  CPLR § 7507 reads as follows:

Except as provided in section 7508,
the award shall be in writing, signed and affirmed by the arbitrator
making it within the time fixed by the agreement, or, if the time is
not fixed, within such time as the court orders. The parties may in
writing extend the time either before or after its expiration. A party
waives the objection that an award was not made within the time
required unless he notifies the arbitrator in writing of his objection
prior to the delivery of the award to him. The arbitrator shall deliver
a copy of the award to each party in the manner provided in the
agreement, or, if no provision is so made, personally or by registered
or certified mail, return receipt requested.

2.  I took the cites out to save space.  You can find them by clicking the hyperlinked case.
All the bold is mine.  The footnotes are mine as well.

Have a look at this post over at New York Legal Update, where Thomas Swartz parses the legal mumbo jumbo and makes the import of the decision clear.