Unopposed Motions to Confirm Arbitration Awards Are Treated As Motions for Summary Judgment

Carlton Fields

Carlton Fields

A court granted an unopposed motion to confirm an arbitration award in favor of the Drywall Tapers and Pointers of Greater New York Local Union 1974. The award stemmed from CCC Custom Carpentry’s apparent failure to remit contributions required under a collective bargaining agreement to a collection of insurance and pension funds and to file weekly reports of those remittances. The collective bargaining agreement provided for fines for failure to file the weekly reports and permitted the union to complain to an arbitral board should an employer fail to make them. Custom Carpentry did not appear at the arbitration hearing, which resulted in the levy of $14,000 in fines. Nor did Custom Carpentry appear in the action to confirm the award in the district court.

The court noted that an “unanswered petition to confirm an arbitration award is to be treated as an unopposed motion for summary judgment.” Courts are required to review such motions to determine the moving party’s entitlement to judgment, even if the motion is unopposed. If the burden of proof at trial would fall on the movant, then that party’s submissions in support of the motion “must entitle it to judgment as a matter of law.”

Upon review of the award, the court found no indication that it was made arbitrarily, exceeded the arbitrator’s jurisdiction, or was contrary to law. The court noted that the fine that was levied per missing report exceeded the $500 per report scheduled in the collective bargaining agreement but that the schedule of fines in the agreement set those fines as minimums, rather than maximums.

As a result, the court confirmed the award. However, it denied the union attorney fees, finding neither a statutory nor a contractual basis for such an award.

Drywall Tapers & Pointers of Greater New York Local Union 1974 v. CCC Custom Carpentry Corp., No. 1:20-cv-00946 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 5, 2020).

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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