Simple Justice

How Litigants Fare in the Pittsburgh Court Arbitration Program

by Jane W. Adler, Deborah R. Hensler, Charles E. Nelson, Gregory J. Rest


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This report examines the arbitration program of the Pittsburgh (Allegheny County) Court of Common Pleas which at the time of the study applied to cases of $10,000 or less. Section II describes how arbitration works in Pittsburgh and analyzes the characteristics of the arbitration caseload. Section III analyzes the objective outcomes of arbitration: the distribution of wins and losses, the amounts of money awarded to different types of cases and litigants, the pattern of appeals, the distribution of appeal outcomes, and the costs associated with taking a case to arbitration hearing and through the appeal process. In Sec. IV the authors discuss litigants' views of arbitration. Also described are litigants' assessments of the "fairness" of the arbitration process and of the appropriateness of case outcomes, their level of satisfaction, and the role of perceptions of procedural fairness in determining litigant satisfaction. Section V assesses the uses and limitations of court-administered arbitration programs, drawing on the results of the previous sections.

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