A district court refused to vacate an arbitration award where Preis, a terminated employee, failed to produce sufficient evidence of bias or misconduct in the arbitration panel’s decision. Preis moved to vacate the award in favor of former employee Citigroup Global Markets Inc. on the grounds that (1) the panel was biased, and (2) the panel manifestly disregarded the law. Although Preis relied on New York’s civil practice laws and Citigroup relied on the Federal Arbitration Act, the court decided choice of law was irrelevant because no conflict existed between state and federal law on the grounds for vacating arbitration awards.
On the issue of bias, the court found that the examples cited by Preis were neutral, did not suggest prejudice, and “would not lead a reasonable person to conclude that the panel was biased.” The court was even more skeptical of Preis’s manifest disregard claim, finding that he failed to show the panel intentionally defied a well-defined, applicable law. His claims did not rise to the level of showing “some egregious impropriety on the part of the arbitrator,” and thus, did not warrant vacating the award. The court did, however, deny Citigroup’s request for attorneys’ fees and costs, finding it failed to show that Preis acted in bad faith in seeking to overturn the award. Preis v. Citigroup Global Markets Inc., Case No. 14-06327 (USDC S.D.N.Y. Apr. 8, 2015).