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The Florida Senate

2004 Florida Statutes

Pilot RV Mediation and Arbitration Program; creation and qualifications.
Section 681.1096, Florida Statutes 2004

681.1096  Pilot RV Mediation and Arbitration Program; creation and qualifications.--

(1)  This section and s. 681.1097 shall apply to disputes determined eligible under this chapter involving recreational vehicles acquired on or after October 1, 1997, and shall remain in effect until September 30, 2006, at which time recreational vehicle disputes shall be subject to the provisions of ss. 681.109 and 681.1095 The Attorney General shall report to the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Minority Leader of each house of the Legislature, and appropriate legislative committees regarding the effectiveness of the pilot program.

(2)  Each manufacturer of a recreational vehicle involved in a dispute that is determined eligible under this chapter, including chassis and component manufacturers which separately warrant the chassis and components and which otherwise meet the definition of manufacturer set forth in s. 681.102(14), shall participate in a mediation and arbitration program that is deemed qualified by the department.

(3)  In order to be deemed qualified by the department, the mediation and arbitration program must, at a minimum, meet the following requirements:

(a)  The program must be administered by an administrator and staff that is sufficiently insulated from the manufacturer to ensure impartial mediation and arbitration services.

(b)  Program administration fees must be paid by the manufacturer and no such fees shall be charged to a consumer.

(c)  The program must be adequately staffed at a level sufficient to ensure the provision of fair and expeditious dispute resolution services.

(d)  Program mediators and arbitrators must be sufficiently insulated from a manufacturer to ensure the provision of impartial mediation and arbitration of disputes.

(e)  Program mediators and arbitrators shall not be employed by a manufacturer or a motor vehicle dealer.

(f)  Program mediators must complete a Florida Supreme Court certified circuit or county mediation training program, or other mediation training program approved by the department, in addition to a minimum of one-half day of training on this chapter conducted by the department.

(g)  Program mediators must comply with the Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators issued by the American Arbitration Association, the Dispute Resolution Section of the American Bar Association, and the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution.

(h)  Program arbitrators must complete a Florida Supreme Court certified circuit or county arbitration program, or other arbitration training program approved by the department, in addition to a minimum of 1 day of training in the application of this chapter and any rules adopted thereunder conducted by the department.

(i)  Program arbitrators must comply with the Code of Ethics for Arbitrators in Commercial Disputes published by the American Arbitration Association and the American Bar Association in 1977 and as amended.

(j)  Program arbitrators must construe and apply the provisions of this chapter and rules adopted thereunder in making decisions.

(k)  The program must complete all mediation and arbitration of an eligible consumer claim within 70 days of the program administrator's receipt of the claim from the department. Failure of the program to complete all proceedings within the prescribed period will not invalidate any settlement agreement or arbitration decision.

(l)  Mediation conferences and arbitration proceedings must be held at reasonably convenient locations within the state so as to enable a consumer to attend and present a dispute orally.

(4)  The department shall monitor the program for compliance with this chapter. If the program is determined not qualified or if qualification is revoked, then the involved manufacturer shall be required to submit to arbitration conducted by the board if such arbitration is requested by a consumer and the dispute is deemed eligible for arbitration by the division pursuant to s. 681.109

(5)  If a program is determined not qualified or if qualification is revoked, the involved manufacturer shall be notified by the department of any deficiencies in the program and informed that it is entitled to a hearing pursuant to chapter 120.

(6)  The program administrator, mediators, and arbitrators are exempt from civil liability arising from any act or omission in connection with any mediation or arbitration conducted under this chapter.

(7)  The program administrator shall maintain records of each dispute submitted to the program, including the recordings of arbitration hearings. All records maintained by the program under this chapter shall be public records and shall be available for inspection by the department upon reasonable notice. The records for disputes closed as of September 30 of each year shall be turned over to the department by the program administrator by no later than October 30 of the same year, unless a later date is specified by the department.

(8)  The department shall have the authority to adopt reasonable rules to carry out the provisions of this section.

History.--s. 7, ch. 97-245; s. 33, ch. 2001-196; s. 2, ch. 2002-71; s. 21, ch. 2002-235.