Illinois District Court Denies Motion to Vacate Arbitration Award and Imposes Sanctions, Citing “Outright Hostility” to Such Challenges in the Seventh Circuit

Carlton Fields
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Carlton Fields

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied a former employee’s motion to vacate an arbitration award in favor of defendant AT&T Mobility Services LLC. The plaintiff claimed the arbitrator exceeded his powers or imperfectly executed them and that the award manifestly disregarded the law, so as to warrant vacatur under section 10(a)(4) of the Federal Arbitration Act. The court disagreed, finding as an initial matter that the plaintiff failed to explain how exactly the arbitrator exceeded his powers until his reply brief. Because the court cannot consider arguments first raised on reply, the motion to vacate was denied on this basis alone. But even considering the motion on its merits, the court found no evidence requiring vacatur, noting the grounds for doing so are “extremely limited” and that the plaintiff failed to cite a single decision in which an arbitration award was vacated. The court took particular issue with the “incoherent and unsupported arguments” in the plaintiff’s moving papers and the plaintiff’s evident attempt to take “another bite at the apple.” Finding there is “an outright hostility in the Seventh Circuit to parties challenging arbitration awards,” the court granted AT&T’s motion for sanctions and directed the plaintiff to pay $1,500.

Skuja v. AT&T Mobility Services LLC, No. 1:18-cv-07945 (N.D. Ill. May 25, 2021).

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