This appeal is from a judgment entered by a district court in New York, denying a petition of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (“UBC”) to enforce a May 4, 2014 arbitration award (“May 4 Award”) and to vacate a subsequent award on May 13, 2014 (“May 13 Award”), and granting Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC’s cross petition, seeking enforcement of the May 13 Award. UBC appealed the district court’s conclusion that the May 4 Award was not final and that the arbitrator did not exceed his authority by issuing the May 13 Award.
The contract at issue provided that the arbitrator must “render a short-form decision within 5 days of the hearing based upon the evidence submitted at the hearing, with a written decision to follow within 30 days of the close of the hearing”. The Second Circuit, under the “heightened standard of deference” courts apply to arbitration awards, concluded that it must defer to the arbitrator’s interpretation of the contract as allowing him to alter the earlier short‐form decision when rendering his later written decision. The Court noted that the contract does not define the term “short‐form”, nor does it specifically require that the second decision echo the result of the first. Thus, the Court held that, absent any such definitions or provisions, the arbitrator had the authority to interpret the contract as allowing him to change or alter the first award in consideration of certain criteria under the National Plan for the Settlement of Jurisdictional Disputes in the Construction Industry, which governed the arbitration. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the district court’s ruling, confirming the May 13 Award and vacating the May 4 Award.
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America v. Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC, No. 15-1002 (2d Cir. Oct. 20, 2015).