Eleventh Circuit Rules FAA Does Not Create Subject Matter Jurisdiction

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Brett-Andrew Nelson filed a petition to confirm an arbitration award issued by the Sitcomm Arbitration Association. The award purported to award Nelson $500,000 from each of the four defendants based on their breach of an unspecified “contractual agreement.” Nelson claimed the district court had subject matter jurisdiction to confirm the award based solely on 9 U.S.C. § 9. The district court dismissed the petition with prejudice, finding no evidence of a valid contract between the parties. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held sua sponte that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Nelson’s petition. While the petition claimed jurisdiction based on section 9 of the FAA, the Eleventh Circuit found the FAA does not create jurisdiction on its own; there must instead be an independent jurisdictional foundation. Because Nelson failed to establish subject matter jurisdiction, the court found the district court should have dismissed the petition without prejudice, rather than with prejudice. The matter was thus vacated and remanded for the limited purpose of allowing the district court to dismiss the case without prejudice.

Nelson v. Jackson, No. 21-10440 (11th Cir. Aug. 2, 2021).

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