United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
Richard A. Jones, United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Larry
Johnson's application to confirm arbitration award. Dkt.
# 1. Defendant RCO Legal, P.S. (“RCO” or
“Defendant”) opposes the application and moves
the Court to vacate the arbitration award. Dkt. # 9.
Plaintiff further moves the Court for an order directing the
Clerk to issue a prejudgment writ of attachment and
prejudgment writ of garnishment. Dkt. # 20. The Court GRANTS
Plaintiff's application and DENIES Defendant's motion
to vacate the arbitration award. The motion for prejudgment
remedies is MOOT.
parties in this action dispute Defendant's actions in
terminating Plaintiff. The parties participated in
arbitration, and the arbitrator found that Defendant violated
the employment agreement (“Agreement”) when it
terminated Plaintiff “for cause.” Dkt. # 4 at
7-16 (Ruling). The arbitrator then issued an award in favor
of Plaintiff. Dkt. # 4 at 27 (Award). Plaintiff now moves the
Court to confirm this award. Dkt. # 1. Defendant objects to
the award and requests that the Court vacate the
arbitrator's ruling and award. Dkt. # 9.
may petition a court for an order vacating an arbitration
award “where the arbitrators exceeded their
powers[.]” 9 U.S.C. § 10(a)(4). However, the
moving party faces a “high hurdle”; “[i]t
is not enough for petitioners to show that the panel
committed an error-or even a serious error.”
Stolt-Nielsen S.A. v. AnimalFeeds Int'l Corp.,
559 U.S. 662, 671 (2010); see also Oxford Health Plans
LLC v. Sutter, 569 U.S. 564 (2013) (“Under the
FAA, courts may vacate an arbitrator's decision
‘only in very unusual circumstances.'”)
(citations omitted). “It is only when [an] arbitrator
strays from interpretation and application of the agreement
and effectively ‘dispense[s] his own brand of
industrial justice' that his decision may be
unenforceable.” Stolt-Nielsen, 559 U.S. at 671
(citing Major League Baseball Players Assn. v.
Garvey, 532 U.S. 504, 509 (2001)); see also Cross
Link, Inc. v. Salt River Constr. Corp., No.
16-CV-05412-JSW, 2017 WL 4351729, at *3 (N.D. Cal. May 8,
2017) (finding that “a court must uphold an
arbitrator's decision unless it is ‘completely
irrational ... or exhibits a manifest disregard of
law[.]'”) (quoting Kyocera Corp. v. Prudential
Bache Trade Servs., 341 F.3d 987, 997 (9th Cir. 2003)).
The question for the court is “whether the arbitrator
(even arguably) interpreted the parties' contract, not
whether he got its meaning right or wrong.” Oxford
Health Plans, 569 U.S. at 564. If an award is not
vacated, modified, or corrected under § 10, then the
court must grant a motion confirming the arbitration award. 9
U.S.C. § 9.
Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award and Motion to
Vacate the Same
claims that the arbitrator exceeded his powers in four ways:
(1) by disregarding Section 237 of the Restatement (Second)
of Contracts (“Section 237”); (2) by overlooking
the after-acquired evidence of Plaintiff's alleged
unethical conduct; (3) by focusing on one section of
Agreement rather than other sections; and (4) by finding in a
way that is repugnant to public policy. See
generally Dkt. # 9.
claims that the arbitrator made no mention of Section 237.
Dkt. # 9 at 8. Section 237 states,
Except as stated in § 240, it is a condition of each
party's remaining duties to render performances to be
exchanged under an exchange of promises that there be no
uncured material failure by the other party to render any
such performance due at an earlier time.
(Second) of Contracts § 237 (1981). The drafters of the
Restatement provided various illustrations in connection with
this Section. Defendant cites Illustration 8 as being
directly related to the situation at issue in this matter.
Dkt. # 9 at 9; see also Restatement (Second) of
Contracts § 237. That illustration describes the
A and B make an employment contract. After the service has
begun, A, the employee, commits a material breach of his duty
to give efficient service that would justify B in discharging
him. B is not aware of this but discharges A for an
inadequate reason. A has no claim against B for discharging
him. B has a claim against A for damages for total breach
(§ 243) based on B's loss due to A's failure to
give efficient service up to the time of discharge, but not
for damages based on the loss of A's ...