Arbitrator Improprieties: A Educational Laundry List

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Explore:  Arbitration Arbitrators

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed the U.S. District Court of Nevada’s confirmation of an arbitration award allocating attorneys’ fees and denial of a motion to vacate the award.  After first holding, in a separate opinion, that parties may not waive or eliminate judicial review of arbitration awards under Section 10 of the Federal Arbitration Act, the court next communicated a laundry list of reasons for which a district court may vacate an arbitration award: (1) if the arbitrator’s decision is procured by corruption, fraud, or undue means; (2) if the arbitrator was evidently partial or actually biased; (3) if mediation and related fund transfers are undisclosed; (4) if communications are made ex parte; (5) if the arbitrator exceeds arbitral jurisdiction or issues biased rulings; and (6) if the arbitrator fails to disclose material conflicts of interest.  Finding that the district court correctly concluded that the arbitrator had not engaged in any such misconduct and that no prejudice was shown in any event, the Ninth Circuit affirmed.  In re Wal-Mart Wage and Hour Employment Practices Litigation, No. 2:06-cv-00225-PMP-PAL (9th Cir. Dec. 17, 2013).