AXA Belgium S.A. (“AXA”) reinsured Century Indemnity Co. (“Century”) under certain treaties dating back to the 1970’s. In 2005, Century disputed AXA’s fulfillment of certain payment obligations, and the parties arbitrated the matter. The award, rendered in 2007, was in Century’s favor on a number of issues, and ordered AXA to make payments to Century. After AXA refused to make the ordered payments, Century filed an action in Pennsylvania in 2009 to confirm the award, and the award was confirmed. Thereafter, Century claims AXA still did not make required payments, and moved for contempt in the Pennsylvania action.
For its part, AXA claims that correlated issues involving the parties that were not subject to the arbitration impact AXA’s payment obligations because they entitle AXA to offsets or credits against its payment obligations ordered in the arbitration and confirmed in court. AXA thus filed its own action in New York federal court, seeking to compel arbitration of the offset issues it claims impact its payment obligations. The New York court deferred and transferred the action, suggesting that AXA was engaged in forum shopping, and finding that the Pennsylvania court was already familiar with the issues and was the appropriate forum for AXA to raise its claims pertaining to the offset. However, in an Order ironically issued the same day as the New York Order, the Pennsylvania court – plainly displeased by the bitter tone of the parties’ dispute – refused to enjoin the New York litigation, but did not grant Century’s motion for contempt, based on its review of the arbitration award, finding that the award did not command the payment of a sum certain by AXA. It also held that the arbitrability of the offset issue should be determined in the New York action. Both courts have now deferred the resolution of this issue to the other court. AXA Belgium, S.A. v. Century Indemnity Co., 09-9703 (USDC S.D.N.Y. Jan. 11, 2010); Century Indemnity Co. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, No. 09-94 (USDC E.D.Pa. Jan 11, 2010).