After losing on essentially the same issue in an appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the defendants in an ongoing class arbitration Amerix Corporation and Genus Credit Management initiated an action on the eve of termination of the class arbitration attacking the propriety of class arbitration, alleging that the arbitrator was exceeding the scope of his authority as defined in Stolt-Nielsen and Concepcion. They also filed a motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) seeking review of the court’s decision declining to vacate the arbitrator’s initial Clause Construction Award. The class claimants moved to dismiss this new action, filed an opposition to the Rule 60(b) motion, and moved for attorneys fees.
The District Court concluded that res judicata could apply to bar reconsideration of the clause construction, which the court declined to vacate. Further, the court explained that Stolt-Nielsen did not present a sufficient change to revisit prior issues, and thus, the law of the case doctrine precluded relitigating the construction of the arbitration clause. Finally, the court held that Stolt-Nielsen itself provided another ground for dismissing the new action. Specifically, the court ruled that the arbitrator’s decision was based on applicable law and contract principles, so his determination to allow class arbitration did not run afoul of Stolt-Nielsen. Unlike Stolt-Nielsen, the agreement was not silent as to the parties intent, which the arbitrator was able to determine in the instant case. Thus, the new action was dismissed. Additionally, the court denied further review under Rule 60(b) and denied the motion for attorneys fees. Amerix Corp. v. Jones, Case No. 11-02844 (USDC D. Md. Jan. 17, 2012).