This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).







Mario Cianflone,





 Independent School District No. 112, Chaska, Minnesota,




Filed March 6, 2001

Reversed and remanded

Harten, Judge



Carver County District Court




Robert A. Nicklaus, Nicklaus, Braaten & Hollenhorst, PLLC, 500 Pine Street North, Suite 200, Chaska, Minnesota 55318 (for appellant) 


Gregory S. Madsen, Knutson, Flynn, Deans & Olsen, P.A., 1155 Centre Pointe Drive, Suite 10, Mendota Heights, Minnesota 55120 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Crippen, Presiding Judge, Harten, Judge, and Hanson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N



Respondent Independent School District No. 112 discharged appellant Mario Cianflone from his teaching position and an arbitrator upheld the termination.  Nearly eight months later, appellant moved to vacate the award, but the district court dismissed the action based on lack of jurisdiction.  Appellant contends that his motion to vacate was timely, using the time of service as the date a copy of the decision was sent to him by certified mail, rather than the date a copy was sent by regular mail to his attorney.  Appellant also argues that the arbitrator exceeded his powers in finding that respondent had proper grounds for termination.  The district court did not decide the excess-of-powers issue.  We reverse and remand.


            This dispute arises from the decision of respondent to terminate appellant.  Following this decision, appellant requested arbitration.  Arbitrator Gil Vernon heard the case, and found that the respondent had proper grounds to terminate appellant for his failure to follow directives of a 1993 notice of deficiency including a warning not to use physical force against students.

Vernon issued his award by mailing copies of it to counsel for each of the parties on August 2, 1999.  Approximately 90 days after the award was mailed, on November 1, 1999, appellant personally delivered a document entitled, “Proof of Service Minnesota Court of Appeals,” to Bradley Johnson, a school board member.  This document appeared to be an attempted notice of appeal, although there was no such appeal filed with this court at that time.

On February 1, 2000, appellant received a copy of the arbitrator’s decision and award.  On March 21, 2000, appellant filed a motion to vacate the arbitrator’s decision and award, claiming that the arbitrator had exceeded his powers.  The district court found that the motion to vacate was untimely and dismissed the action.  Appellant challenges that order.


Appellant argues that the trial court erred in concluding that his motion to vacate was untimely.  This issue involves the interpretation of the Minnesota Uniform Arbitration Act.  Minn. Stat. § § 572.08-.30 (1998).  The construction of a statute is a question of law, fully reviewable by an appellate court.  Hibbing Educ. Ass’n v. Pub. Employment Relations Bd., 369 N.W.2d 527, 529 (Minn. 1985). 

Arbitration awards may be set aside only in limited circumstances and then only if a motion to vacate is brought within 90 days of receipt of the award.  Minn. Stat. § 572.19, subds. 1, 2 (1998).  Appellant does not base his motion on corruption, fraud, or other undue means, the only exceptions to the 90-day requirement.  See id., subd. 2 (motion predicated upon corruption, fraud, or other undue means must be filed 90 days after such grounds are known or should be known).  The main inquiry is when the 90-day time period began to run.

The statute specifically sets forth the manner in which the arbitrator’s award is served:

The arbitrators shall deliver a copy [of the award] to each party personally or by certified mail, or as provided in the agreement.


Minn. Stat. § 572.15(a) (1998).  The plain meaning of the statute is absolutely clear; it requires the arbitrator to deliver the award to the party either by personal service or certified mail.  “It is well settled that statutory arbitration must comply with the requirements of the governing statute.”  Crosby-Ironton Fed’n of Teachers, Local 1325 v. Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 182, 285 N.W.2d 667, 669 (Minn. 1979) (citation omitted).  Here, the arbitrator’s delivery did not comply with the statute until February 1, 2000.  Thus, the 90-day time limit did not begin to run until February 1, 2000.  Because appellant filed his motion to vacate the arbitrator’s award within 90 days of this date, his motion was timely.

 Respondent argues that section 572.15(a), does not apply to a litigant seeking to vacate an arbitration award.  We see little merit in this argument.  Such an interpretation would, in effect, repeal section 572.15(a).  “A goal of any statutory interpretation is to avoid rendering portions of a statute superfluous.”  In re Estate of Jobe, 590 N.W.2d 162, 166 (Minn. App. 1999) (citing United States ex rel. Harlan v. Bacon, 21 F.3d 209, 212 (8th Cir. 1994), review denied (Minn. May 26, 1999).

Accordingly, we reverse the district court order denying for lack of jurisdiction appellant’s motion to vacate the arbitration order.  We remand to the district court for further proceedings on appellant’s motion.

 Reversed and remanded.