The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the judgment of a federal district court which enforced an arbitration award between plaintiff, Qorvis Communications, LLC (“Qorvis”) and defendant, Christopher S. Wilson. Wilson and Qorvis were parties to an employment contract whereby Wilson agreed to provide certain research, polling, and political consulting services to Qorvis in his position as a public affairs executive, and CEO of the company’s Research Strategies Division (“RSD”). As part of the employment contract, Wilson agreed that he would devote his “full time, attention, skill and energy” to developing and building Qorvis’s RSD. The agreement also obligated Wilson not to solicit Qorvis clients for his own account during his employment and for eighteen months thereafter. Qorvis later alleged that Wilson did, in fact, solicit Qorvis clients for his own account during his employment and misappropriated certain confidential trade secrets, all to Qorvis’s financial detriment. Qorvis invoked the agreement’s arbitration provision as a result of the dispute.
Without objection, the parties proceeded to arbitration, after which the arbitrator ruled on all of Qorvis’s claims, as well as counterclaims which Wilson had raised during the course of the proceeding. The arbitrator awarded Qorvis $366,037.72, plus post-judgment interest. Qorvis then moved to confirm the award in the federal district court, and Wilson moved to vacate. The district court entered judgment in favor of Qorvis. Wilson appealed on the primary basis that the arbitration agreement did not explicitly provide the parties a right to enforce an award in court, but rather merely referred to the rules of Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services, Inc. (“JAMS”). However, the Court of Appeals agreed with the district court that the JAMS rules clearly contemplated enforcement of any award in court under the Federal Arbitration Act, and that, combined with the strong public policy in favor of arbitration, “only an explicitly expressed intention that the award NOT be enforced by the courts would suffice to make the award unenforceable.” On that and other ancillary issues raised by Wilson, the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s judgment. Qorvis Communications, LLC v. Wilson, No. 07-1967 (4th Cir. Dec. 3, 2008).