A federal court has denied a motion to vacate an arbitration award where notice of the motion was served four days after the statutory period for such service. The arbitration award at issue, awarding defendant brokerage commission fees, was dated June 4, 2008. Defendant filed a petition to confirm the arbitration award on July 9, 2008. On August 20, 2008, plaintiff filed a complaint to vacate the award, but did not serve the complaint on defendant until September 8, 2008.
Defendant subsequently moved for summary judgment on its petition to confirm the arbitration award and on plaintiff’s complaint to vacate the award, arguing that plaintiff failed to timely serve its motion to vacate. The court granted both of defendant’s summary judgment motions.
The court first noted that Section 12 of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. Section 12, provides that “notice of a motion to vacate, modify or correct an award must be served upon the adverse party within three months after the award is filed or delivered.” Here, the arbitration award was delivered on June 4, 2008, but plaintiff did not serve its notice of a motion to vacate the award until September 8, 2008, more than three months after the award was issued. The court emphasized that the statute is “clear” and “unambiguous” in that it “explicitly states” that the motion to vacate must be “served,” not “filed,” within three months of delivering the award and that none of the authorities relied upon by plaintiff provided any basis for departing from this clear language.
In addition, the court declined to exercise its discretion to extend the statutory time for service. In doing so, the court rejected plaintiff’s contention that his interpretation of the statutory language is reasonable where plaintiff failed to provide any binding authority supporting such interpretation. Moreover, the court observed that the 11th Circuit has declined to carve out a due diligence exception to FAA Section 12 because, among other things, of the summary nature of proceedings to confirm arbitration awards. Following the logic of the 11th Circuit, the court held that extending statutory deadlines would be “contrary to the ‘role of arbitration as a mechanism for speedy dispute resolution’ that awards finality in a timely manner.” (Mitra v. Global Financial Corp., 2009 WL 1833932 (S.D. Fla. June 25, 2009))