49 CFR § 1108.5 - Arbitration commencement procedures.

§ 1108.5 Arbitration commencement procedures.

(a) Complaint. Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, arbitration under these rules shall commence with a written complaint, which shall be filed and served in accordance with Board rules contained at part 1104 of this chapter. Each complaint must contain a statement that the complainant and the respondent are participants in the Board's arbitration program pursuant to § 1108.3(a), or that the complainant is willing to arbitrate voluntarily all or part of the dispute pursuant to the Board's arbitration procedures, and the relief requested.

(1) If the complainant desires arbitration with a single arbitrator instead of a three-member arbitration panel, the complaint must make such a request in its complaint.

(2) If the complainant is not a participant in the arbitration program, the complaint may specify the issues that the complainant is willing to arbitrate.

(3) If the complainant desires to set a lower amount of potential liability than the monetary award cap that would otherwise apply, the complaint should specify what amount of potential liability the complainant is willing to incur.

(b) Answer to the complaint. Any respondent must, within 20 days of the date of the filing of a complaint, answer the complaint. The answer must state whether the respondent is a participant in the Board's arbitration program, or whether the respondent is willing to arbitrate the particular dispute.

(1) If the complaint requests arbitration by a single arbitrator instead of by an arbitration panel, the answer must contain a statement consenting to arbitration by a single arbitrator or an express rejection of that request.

(i) The respondent may also initiate a request to use a single arbitrator instead of an arbitration panel.

(ii) Absent the parties agreeing to arbitration through a single arbitrator, the Board will assign the case to arbitration by a panel of three arbitrators as provided by § 1108.6(a) through (d). The party requesting the single arbitrator shall at that time provide written notice to the Board and the other parties if it continues to object to a three-member arbitration panel. Upon timely receipt of the notice, the Board shall the set the case for formal adjudication by the Board.

(2) When the complaint limits the arbitrable issues, the answer must state whether the respondent agrees to those limitations or, if the respondent is already a participant in the Board's arbitration program, whether those limitations are consistent with the respondent's opt-in notice filed with the Board pursuant to § 1108.3(a)(1)(i). If the answer contains an agreement to arbitrate some but not all of the arbitration-program-eligible issues in the complaint, the complainant will have 10 days from the date of the answer to advise the respondent and the Board in writing whether the complainant is willing to arbitrate on that basis.

(3) When the complaint proposes a lower amount of potential liability, the answer must state whether the respondent agrees to that amount in lieu of the otherwise applicable monetary award cap.

(c) Counterclaims. In answering a complaint, the respondent may file one or more counterclaims against the complainant if such claims arise out of the same set of circumstances or are substantially related, and are subject to the Board's jurisdiction as provided in § 1108.2(b). Counterclaims are subject to the assignment provisions contained in § 1108.4(c)-(e). Counterclaims are subject to the monetary award cap provisions contained in § 1108.4(b)(2)-(3).

(d) Affirmative defenses. An answer to an arbitration complaint shall contain specific admissions or denials of each factual allegation contained in the complaint, and any affirmative defenses that the respondent wishes to assert against the complainant.

(e) Jointly-filed notice. In lieu of a formal complaint proceeding, arbitration under these rules may commence with a jointly-filed notice by parties agreeing to submit an eligible matter in dispute to the Board's arbitration program under § 1108.3(a)(3). The notice must:

(1) Contain a statement that all relevant parties are participants in the Board's arbitration program pursuant to § 1108.3(a), or that the relevant parties are willing to arbitrate voluntarily a matter pursuant to the Board's arbitration procedures, and the relief requested;

(2) Indicate whether parties have agreed to a three-member arbitration panel or a single arbitrator;

(3) Indicate if the parties have agreed to a lower amount of potential liability in lieu of the otherwise applicable monetary award cap.

(f) Arbitration initiation. When the parties have agreed upon whether to use a single arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators, the issues(s) to be arbitrated, and the monetary limit to any arbitral decision, the Board shall initiate the arbitration under § 1108.7(a) and provide a list of arbitrators as described in § 1108.6.

(g) Arbitration agreement. Shortly after the panel of arbitrators or arbitrator is selected, the parties to arbitration together with the lead or single arbitrator, as applicable, shall create a written arbitration agreement, which at a minimum will state with specificity the issues to be arbitrated and the corresponding monetary award cap to which the parties have agreed. The agreement may also contain other mutually agreed upon provisions.

(1) Any additional issues selected for arbitration by the parties, that are not outside the scope of these arbitration rules as explained in § 1108.2(b), must be subject to the Board's statutory authority.

(2) These rules shall be incorporated by reference into any arbitration agreement conducted pursuant to an arbitration complaint filed with the Board.

[78 FR 29079, May 17, 2013, as amended at 81 FR 69415, Oct. 6, 2016]