Arbitration Award Roundup

by Carlton Fields
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Following is a selection of some of the recent decisions concerning requests to confirm, vacate or modify arbitration awards:

Evident Partiality / Fraud

Mohammad Z. Alim v. KBR, Inc., Case No. 13-11094 (5th Cir. June 5, 2014) (affirming district court’s denial of motion to vacate arbitration award, finding plaintiff had waived his partiality argument by failing to raise the known information prior to the arbitration hearing; summarily rejecting all claims that award was procured through fraud or undue means; and affirming district court’s decision to compel arbitration in the first instance);

Tenaska Energy, Inc., et al. v. Ponderosa Pine Energy, LLC, Case No. 12-0789 (Tex. Jan. 7, 2014) (reinstating trial court’s order vacating arbitration award because of arbitrator’s evident partiality and failure to disclose relevant information; rejecting claim of waiver as to partiality issue as information was never disclosed and therefore not known prior to arbitration; and ordering a new arbitration).

Exceeding Authority / Failure to Consider Evidence

Hungry Horse, LLC v. E Light Electric Services, Inc., Case No. 13-1425 (10th Cir. June 19, 2014) (affirming district court’s denial of motion to vacate, concluding arbitration panel had acted within its broad authority afforded under the parties’ arbitration agreement when issuing its award);

American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO v. U.S. Postal Service, Case No. 13-2579 (2d Cir. June 6, 2014) (reversing district court’s decision which had granted motion to vacate arbitral award on the basis that arbitrator exceeded his powers by applying the doctrine of collateral estoppel; holding that arbitrator’s decision to use collateral estoppel based on a prior administrative decision was not in excess of his powers; and remanding with instructions to confirm award);

Why Nada Cruz, L.L.C. v. Ace American Ins. Co., Case No. 13-20644 (5th Cir. June 3, 2014) (affirming district court’s confirmation of award which had dismissed arbitration due to untimeliness, finding arbitrator did not exceed his powers by concluding that the request for arbitration was dilatory under the parties’ agreement, and rejecting argument that arbitrator failed to hear pertinent evidence);

Seed Holdings, Inc. v. Jiffy Int’l As, et al., Case Nos. 13-CV-2284 and 13-CV-2755 (USDC S.D.N.Y. March 24, 2014) (denying motion to vacate award, and granting motion to confirm award, finding no evidence that arbitrators exceeded their authority; rejecting arguments that arbitrators failed to consider certain evidence and that arbitrators manifestly disregarded the law; and denying motions to remand or stay court actions based on jurisdictional grounds);

West Liberty Foods, L.L.C. v. Moroni Feed Co., Case No. 4:10-CV-00146 (USDC S.D. Iowa March 6, 2014) (denying plaintiff’s motion to vacate prejudgment interest awarded to defendant in arbitration, finding award to be a “reasoned award” and within arbitrator’s authority; denying defendant’s request to reimburse attorney’s fees incurred in response to plaintiffs’ alleged “bad faith” actions in filing and arguing its motion to vacate; and confirming remainder of arbitration award).

Manifest Disregard

Berkshire Wilton Partners, LLC v. Bilray Demolition Co., Inc., Case No. 2013-191 (R.I. June 9, 2014) (vacating lower court’s judgment which had vacated an arbitration award; rejecting arguments that arbitrator had manifestly disregarded both the law and the plain language of the parties’ release; and remanding with instructions to enter judgment in favor of party who had been awarded damages in arbitration);

Aerotel, Ltd. v. IDT Corp., Case No. 13-3085 (2d Cir. June 3, 2014) (affirming district court’s declination to vacate arbitration award where panel had awarded plaintiff some, but not all, lost profits sought and had declined to order specific performance under the parties’ contract; finding panel “was unquestionably applying the governing law” and therefore there were no grounds to vacate);

A&G Coal Corp., et al. v. Integrity Coal Sales, Inc., Case No. 13-2411 (2d Cir. May 9, 2014) (affirming district court’s confirmation of arbitration award, finding no support that the arbitrator manifestly disregarded the law or the parties’ agreements to justify vacatur).

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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