A Pennsylvania federal court recently confirmed an arbitrator’s decision in a wrongful termination suit which held in favor of the Philadelphia Union soccer team, finding it did not violate former head coach Piotr Nowak’s contractual rights when the team fired him in 2012.
In the order confirming the award, and denying Nowak’s motion to vacate it, the court noted that a federal court’s review of an arbitration award “gives extreme deference” to the arbitrator’s decision and does not “second guess but instead presume[s] the reasoned award is enforceable”.
In the motion to vacate the award, Nowak claimed that the arbitrator was biased and made factual judgments from what Nowak claimed was hearsay evidence in testimony by witnesses. However, the court found that the record revealed that the arbitrator did not misapply the law, noting that the award itself highlighted sufficient independent evidence supporting the arbitrator’s conclusions, including witness testimony from former players, a trainer and Nowak himself. It also found that the award, supported by ample record evidence, was not completely irrational. Finally, the court found that there was no evidence of bias or impartiality on the part of the arbitrator. Thus, because Nowak did not establish any ground for vacatur, the court denied the motion to vacate and granted the motion to confirm the arbitration award.
Piotr Nowak v. Pennsylvania Professional Soccer, LLC, et al., No. 12-4165 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 11, 2016).