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Civil Procedure – Arbitration – declaratory judgment

Civil Procedure – Arbitration – declaratory judgment

A party cannot seek a declaratory judgment in circuit court concerning a discovery dispute before an arbitration panel.

“We consider two issues: 1) whether the Marlowes were permitted to seek a declaratory judgment concerning the discovery dispute before the arbitration panel ruled on whether an award was appropriate and, if so, its amount; and 2) whether the panel properly established discovery procedures outside those outlined in Wis. Stat. § 788.07. Because no unusual circumstances justified an interlocutory appeal, we hold that the Marlowes’ action in circuit court was premature. As to the second question, the legislature has set forth, in the form of § 788.07, a narrow scope of discovery for arbitration proceedings in the absence of an explicit, specific, and clearly drafted arbitration clause to the contrary. IDS failed to include any such language in its policy and we therefore instruct the panel to limit discovery to that provided for in § 788.07. Accordingly, we affirm the court of appeals insofar as it declined to allow the Marlowes an interlocutory appeal. However, insofar as the court of appeals granted IDS the benefit of full Wis. Stat. ch. 804 discovery, we modify its decision and instead direct the panel to cabin discovery to the depositions contemplated in § 788.07. Thus, the decision of the court of appeals is modified, and as modified, affirmed, and the cause is remanded to the arbitration panel with instructions.”

Affirmed as modified.

2011AP2067 Marlowe v. IDS Property Casualty Ins. Co.

Gableman, J.

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