Fifth Circuit Holds Order Remanding Case Back To Arbitrators For Clarification Is Non-Final And Non-Appealable

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The appeal arose from a lawsuit to clarify an arbitration award concerning an alleged breach of a corporate merger agreement containing a binding arbitration clause. The federal district court found the arbitration panel had exceeded its authority under that arbitration clause by failing to provide sufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding a damages claim. The district court therefore remanded the case back to the panel for consideration of that issue and clarification of the award. On appeal, the Fifth Circuit held that because the district court neither confirmed nor vacated the award, the order was not final, a point on which the dissent strongly disagreed, and it therefore did not have appellate jurisdiction over the order. The court further reasoned that it was necessary to decline jurisdiction to avoid generating piecemeal appeals and in light of the court’s deferential standard of review of arbitration awards. Murchison Capital Partners, L.P., et al. v. Nuance Communications, Inc., No. 13-10852 (5th Cir. July 25, 2014).

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