Texas Cases Interpreting the Uniform Arbitration Act

The Texas Arbitration Act is based on the Uniform Arbitration Act and provides: This chapter shall be construed to effect its purpose and make uniform the construction of other states' law applicable to an arbitration. TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. 171.003 (Vernon Supp. 2000). Because Texas has no authority on the issue presented to the Court, we will look to the laws of other states that have adopted the Uniform Arbitration Act. In Maine Department of Transportation. v. Maine State Employees Assn., the highest court of Maine was called upon to consider whether it had jurisdiction to consider the trial court's order vacating an arbitration and remanding the case to a rehearing before a new arbitrator. 581 A.2d 813, 814 (Me. 1990). The court, interpreting an arbitration appeal statute almost identical to the Texas statute, held that no appeal could be taken from an order vacating an arbitration award if the trial court ordered a new hearing. Maine Department of Transportation. v. Maine State Employees Assn., 581 A.2d at 814-15. In so holding, the court reasoned: By providing for appeals only from those orders vacating arbitration awards that do not direct a rehearing, section 5945(1)(E) implicitly bars appeals from orders that direct a rehearing. This is consistent with the policy of barring an immediate appeal from the granting of a new trial in a civil case.Id. at 815. Like Maine, Texas law prohibits appeals from orders granting new trials. See Cummins v. Paisan Construction Co., 682 S.W.2d 235, 236 (Tex. 1984). We agree with the reasoning of the Maine court; an order vacating an arbitration award and directing a rehearing is the functional equivalent of an order granting a new trial. Accordingly, such an order is not subject to direct appellate review. See Minnesota Teamsters Public and Law Enforcement Employees Union, Local No. 320 v. County of Carver, 571 N.W.2d 598, 599 (Minn. Ct. App. 1997) (order vacating arbitration award and ordering rehearing analogous to order granting new trial); Carner v. Freedman, 175 So. 2d 70, 71 (Fla. 3rd Dist. Ct. App. 1965) (trial court order vacating arbitration award and directing rehearing by arbitration panel not appealable).