This appeal is from an order from a district court in California, vacating an arbitration award against Masimo Corporation in favor of two former employees for $5.3 million because the court found that the arbitrator exhibited “evident partiality” because his brother litigated cases against Masimo. The employees appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which reversed the district court’s ruling, finding that Masimo provided “no coherent explanation” as to how the arbitrator’s brother’s litigation practice “would cause a person to doubt [the arbitrator’s] impartiality” and that Masimo failed to establish facts indicating actual bias. Although the Ninth Circuit found that the arbitrator committed an error in applying the wrong law as to punitive damages, it found that it did not rise to the level of affirmative misconduct. Finally, finding that Masimo’s remaining challenges to the award were unavailing, the Court noted that the arbitrator’s findings, even if erroneous, did not “exceed his powers” or rise to the level of manifest disregard of the law. Thus, the Ninth Circuit remanded to the district court to issue an order confirming the award in its entirety.

Ruhe, et al. v. Masimo Corporation, Nos. 14-55556 and 14-55725 (9th Cir. Feb. 19, 2016).