Courts have continued to confirm arbitration awards in the face of a variety of challenges:
- Manifest disregard of law: Grain v. Trinity Health, No. 08-1410 (6th Cir. Dec. 24, 2008) (manifest disregard is not a basis for modifying an award, only potentially for vacating an award – appellant sought a doubling of the award amount based upon manifest disregard and evident miscalculation); Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. v. Bank of Oklahoma, No. 07-6422 (6th Cir. Dec. 17, 2008) (arbitrator not exceed his powers; no manifest disregard of law demonstrated – the Court assumed that the doctrine survived Hall Street Associates, noting a conflict on that issue between the First and Second Circuits); Donato-Young v. Wachovia Securities, LLC, Case No. 08-1557 (USDC S.D. Cal. Jan. 5, 2009) (not in manifest disregard of law – not mention Hall Street).
- Arbitrators acted in excess of their authority: This basic for vacating an award seems often to be a guise for a disagreement with the merits of the arbitration decision. Donato-Young (cannot show that the arbitration award was in excess of authority because the award was not reasoned); Martin Marietta; Associated Int’l. Insur. Co. v. Montenegro Re, Ltd., No. B203064 (Cal. Ct. App. Dec. 22, 2008) (interpretation of reinsurance agreement); Dealer Computer Services, Inc. v. Hammonasset Ford Lincoln-Mercury, Inc., Case No. 08-1865 (USDC S.D. Tex. Dec. 22, 2008); Vandenavond v. i2Technologies, Inc., Case No. 08-1000 (USDC N.D. Tex. Dec. 19, 2008) (permissible for arbitrator to decide breach of contract claim on provision of contract other than those argued by parties).
- Doctrine of functus officio: In a case interpreting American Arbitration Association Rule 47, which governs modification of a final award, the First Circuit reversed a decision of a district judge which adopted the recommendation of a magistrate judge that an award that purported to “clarify” an earlier award be vacated, on the basis that the arbitrator did not retain authority to modify the substance of the prior award. The Court of Appeal held that there was a “latent ambiguity” in the prior award, and that the later award properly “clarified” the prior award. Eastern Seaboard Constr. Co. v. Gray Constr., Inc., No. 08-1679 (1st Cir. Dec. 31, 2008) (see May 1, 2008 post to this blog relating to the magistrate judge’s recommendation).
- Procedural claims: Scott v. Amaregal, Inc., Case No. 08-219 (USDC N.D. Tex. Jan. 5, 2009) (not have to address each claim specifically if state that there is no liability); AAMCO Transmissions, Inc. v. Rizvi, Case No. 08-151 (USDC ED. Pa. Dec. 17, 2008) (no notice problem where arbitration notice sent to business and one partner hid the notice from the other); New Jersey Regional Council of Carpenters v. Maximum Constr., LLC, Case No. 08-2942 (USDC D.N.J. Dec. 5, 2008) (absence of counsel for one party from a second arbitration hearing not a basis for vacating an award) (opinion and separate Order).