A recent case out of the District of Massachusetts reviewing an arbitration award against Ace American Insurance Company (“Ace”) found that an arbitrator did not exceed her power in crafting an arbitration award when she relied almost exclusively on her equitable powers under the arbitration provision. In the underlying dispute, Ace had insured a thirteen year old boat, which sank following severe weather. Ace denied coverage claiming that such an incident would fall under the wear and tear provision of the coverage. However, the arbitrator disagreed, finding that “if the ‘wear and tear’ exclusion were enforceable in this case, Ace would comfortably insure boats beyond a certain age without an expectation of ever having to pay” and that allowing Ace to deny coverage would violate Massachusetts Chapter 93A. Where the arbitration provision gave the arbiter authority to resolve “any controversy or claim based in any legal or equitable theory,” the District Court found that the arbiter was well within her powers in making this finding, thereby making a vacation of this arbitration award unwarranted.
Ace American Ins. Co. v. Puccio, Case No. 15-cv-10262-IT (USDC D. Mass. June 4, 2015).