Carlton Fields

The Northern District of Texas has confirmed an arbitration award for Wells Fargo against Energy Product Co. and Energy Transport and Logistic LLC. Neither Energy Product nor Energy Transport participated in the arbitration or filed a response to the motion to confirm. Unanswered motions to confirm an arbitration award are treated as unopposed motions for summary judgment and do not result in a default judgment. Therefore, the movant must demonstrate that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Wells Fargo demonstrated that there was no factual dispute here and that it was entitled to judgment. Wells Fargo was required to show that, as required by the Federal Arbitration Act, the proceedings were not “fundamentally unfair.” A “fundamentally fair hearing requires only notice, opportunity to be heard and to present relevant and material evidence before the decision-makers, and that the decision-makers are not infected with bias.” After reviewing the record, the court determined that standard was met in this case, despite that neither Energy Product nor Energy Transport attended the arbitration hearing. The court found that they had both received fair notice of the hearing but simply chose not to attend. While all parties to an arbitration proceeding are entitled to notice and an opportunity to be heard, “due process is not violated if the hearing proceeds in the absence of one of the parties when that party’s absence is the result of his decision not to attend.”

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Energy Prod. Co., No. 3:19-cv-02014 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 26, 2020).