So I have a contract that ended up having patently false information that is also provable. This seems like the simplest thing to me, have expert witness, have the contract, have pictures, have audio recordings and witnesses that worked for him that can attest to the deliberateness of the actions.

However, the cost of the contract is around 20,000 and attempting to find out how to file for non-small claims court seems to be a bit difficult. So wanted to ask exactly how would I go about filing for arbitration?

Note: Did talk with a few attorneys who just said it'd be about 7500-15000 if appealed and that punitive damages would be unlikely so it wasn't worth it for me to hire them. That being said I'm trying to study


Arbitration is an alternative to going to court, so you can't file one in court.

You also generally don't have a choice. If the contract provides for arbitration you must arbitrate, if it doesn't you must bring a court case.

You file a civil court case by preparing and filing a complaint and draft summons with the clerk of the court, having the clerk of the court authorize the summons, having a deputy sheriff or a process server hand deliver the summons authorized by the clerk and the complaint to the defendant, and then following the court rules from there. This is quite difficult, but if no lawyer will take your case, you may have little choice.

This seems like the simplest thing to me, have expert witness, have the contract, have pictures, have audio recordings and witnesses that worked for him that can attest to the deliberateness of the actions.

For what it is worth, this is not at all simple. It is possible, but that is something entirely different. There would also have to be considerable legal research and briefing to determine that the elements of fraud were satisfied and were not barred by another legal doctrine.

Honestly, $7,500 to $15,000 of legal fees as an estimate seems very low to me, and that means 30-60 hours or so of legal work. Doing it without a lawyer would take at least twice that many hours, so maybe 60-120 hours of your time, and would be much less likely to obtain a successful result. Of course, if you can convince the other side (while you are legally represented) that you will carry the case to completion, there is a good chance that they will settle, because they also don't want to spend large amounts of legal fees on a small dispute.

  • May have slightly misrepresented it. It's a sellers disclosure when they evidently failed to disclose multiple issues which were provably impossible to not know about. They turned down mediation with the state realtor board – SCFi Jul 27 '18 at 14:56
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    @SCFI You can't arbitrate a misrepresentation claim unless they agreed in the contract to one or they agree now (which they won't). So, the bottom line is the same, you have to file a court case. – ohwilleke Jul 27 '18 at 14:58
  • I see the two attorneys I talked too talked about going for arbitration. May want to call some more... Thank yu – SCFi Jul 27 '18 at 15:00

how would I go about filing for arbitration?

I would strongly discourage you from pursuing arbitration, as it is very hard to reverse even if the evidence clearly supports your position. In the past, I have declined services by a provider because the provider's contract contains a clause mentioning arbitration as the method for dispute resolution.

If you disagree with the outcome from arbitration, you would be reasonably tempted to appeal anyway. The problem is that courts give high deference to decisions reached in arbitration. Lackawanna Cty v. Employees Association, 177 A.3d 1058, 1062 (2018) is a recent case from Pennsylvania that illustrates this point (I'm adding the emphasis in the excerpt) :

a reviewing court does not inquire into whether the arbitration decision is reasonable or even manifestly unreasonable, but rather the question is whether the award may in any way be rationally derived from the agreement between the parties, "viewed in light of its language, its context, and any other indicia of the parties' intention[s.]" Id. at 862-63. Thus, review of an arbitration award under the essence test is "circumscribed" and entitled to "great deference."

Given that those attorneys were already upfront with you in that it is not worth to hire them, it would be much harder for you to find a competent & honest attorney to represent you toward reversal of an arbitration award which could be manifestly unreasonable.

Your best alternative is to

  1. search for Pennsylvania statutes, court opinions addressing torts such as fraud or breach of contract, and the Pennsylvania court rules; you will learn how statutes and doctrines are interpreted or applied, respectively;
  2. visit the applicable courthouse and ask for records of cases; by taking notes, you will get acquainted with the style, format, and structure of pleadings/motions; and
  3. sue in pro per the party at fault.

Pro se litigation is daunting and not a decision made lightly, but (1) it will save thousands of dollars, and (2) you will retain much more control about the pace (and other important aspects) of your own case.

If you'd like to see an almost complete file of a case litigated by a pro se plaintiff from state trial court all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, see here. In hindsight, there are details here and there which I could have done better, but still the legal arguments I have presented in the Michigan & U.S. Supreme Courts are well premised on the pleadings (and of course, the evidence) I filed when I barely had three months of litigation experience. You can do that too.

  • This is fantastic thank you for all this additional information and resources – SCFi Jul 27 '18 at 14:58
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    @SCFi You're very welcome. Regarding your comment in the other answer (mentioning the seller's failure to disclose), you may want to pursue the theory of silent fraud. Apparently there are no PA cases on that, but see this excerpt from a Michigan opinion: "In order for the suppression of information to constitute silent fraud there must be a legal or equitable duty of disclosure". – Iñaki Viggers Jul 27 '18 at 15:17

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