main image

Archive for the ‘United States District Court for the Southern District of New York’ Category

Can a Party Obtain Post-Judgment Relief from a Confirmed Arbitration Award Procured by Fraud?

May 26th, 2015 Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Arbitration Risks, Asbestos-Related Claims, Bad Faith, Confirmation of Awards, Corruption or Undue Means, Definition of Occurrence, Federal Courts, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Final Awards, Grounds for Vacatur, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York Comments Off on Can a Party Obtain Post-Judgment Relief from a Confirmed Arbitration Award Procured by Fraud?

Introduction

Relief from an Arbitration Award Procured by Fraud

yay-14955744-digital

Section 10(a)(1) of the Federal Arbitration Act authorizes Courts to vacate arbitration awards that were “procured by fraud, corruption or undue means.”  9 U.S.C. § 10(a)(1). (For a discussion of Section 10(a)(1), see L. Reins. & Arb. Law Forum post here.) But a motion to vacate an arbitration award procured by fraud (or otherwise) is subject to a strict three-month deadline, and Section 10, unlike certain of its state-law counterparts, does not provide for tolling of the three-month deadline on the ground the challenging party did not know or have reason to know it had grounds to allege the arbitration award was procured by fraud. Compare 9 U.S.C. § 10(a)(1) with 2000 Revised Uniform Arbitration Act § 23(b) (Uniform Law Comm’n 2000) (If “the [movant] alleges that the award was procured by corruption, fraud, or other undue means, [then, in that].  .  .   case the [motion] must be made within 90 days after the ground is known or by the exercise of reasonable care would have been known by the [movant].”);  1955 Uniform Arbitration Act § 12(b) (Uniform Law Comm’n 1955) ( “[I]f predicated upon corruption, fraud or other undue means, [the motion to vacate] shall be made within ninety days after such grounds are known or should have been known.”).

Once an award has been confirmed, it has the same force and effect as any other judgment of the court. See 9 U.S.C. § 13. Federal Rule Civ. P. 60(b) provides that “[o]n motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or
proceeding for the following reasons:.  .  .  (3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party.  .  .  .” Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(c) provides that “[a] motion under Rule 60(b) must be made within a reasonable time—and for reasons (1), (2), and (3) [i.e., fraud, misrepresentation or misconduct] no more than a year after the entry of the judgment or order or the date of the proceeding.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(c).

So can a challenging party obtain relief from a confirmation judgment if: (a) an award-challenging party contends the Court entered judgment oin an arbitration award procured by fraud; (b) by extension, the judgment confirming the award was itself procured by fraud; (c) the award-challenging party did not know or have reason to know it was at the wrong end of an arbitration award procured by fraud until after the three-month statute of limitations for vacating an award had elapsed; and (d) the award-challenging party makes a timely motion for post-judgment relief under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)? According to a district court judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the answer is “no.”

 

Arrowood Indem. Co. v. Equitas Insurance Ltd., No. 13-cv-7680 (DLC), slip op. (S.D.N.Y. May 14, 2015)

No Post-Judgment Relief from Arbitration Award Procured by Fraud (Alleged or Otherwise)

Background

yay-677177

Arrowood arose out of an excess-of-loss treaty Arrowood’s predecessor(s) in interest had entered into with Underwriters at Lloyd’s in the 1960s. The terms of the treaty were apparently part of, or incorporated into, a “Global Slip,” which the Court, without much elaboration, described as “a complex contractual  reinsurance program.” The Global Slip was first negotiated in 1966 and effective January 1, 1967 through December 31, 1968. It was apparently renewed a number of times thereafter, though the court does not say for what period or periods. The renewal agreements were “substantially similar” although they “contain[ed] new contractual language.” Slip op. at 2.

The Global Slip covered (apparently among other things) losses in excess of $1 million incurred under Arrowood’s casualty insurance policies under three different types of coverage. At issue was “Common Cause Coverage,” which covered losses arising out of an “occurrences” during the contract term, provided the occurrence or occurrences were the “probable common cause or causes” of more than one claim under the policies. The Global Slip also contained a “First Advised” clause, which said that “this Contract does not cover any claim or claims arising from a common cause, which are not first advised during the period of this Contract.”

yay-1299629-digitalLike so many other liability insurers, Arrowood began receiving, adjusting and settling asbestos bodily injury claims beginning in the 1980s. Underwriters at Lloyd’s London insisted that Arrowood present its asbestos reinsurance claims on a per claimant per exposure-year basis, absorbing one $1 million retention each year against the total asbestos claim liabilities allocated to that year under the Underwriters’ per claimant per exposure-year allocation methodology.

In 2008 Arrowood, after reviewing the contract language, stopped using exclusively the Underwriters-prescribed asbestos personal-injury claim reinsurance allocation methodology, which it had followed for almost 25 years, and began presenting a number of claims under the Common Cause Coverage provision of the Global Slip . Because those claims were not, “first advised” in the years 1967 or 1968, the Underwriters denied them.

The Arbitration and Confirmation Proceedings

One of the parties demanded arbitration in October 2010, and a tripartite panel was appointed. The Underwriters argued, among other things, that: (a) the parties’s 25-year course of dealing evidenced a binding agreement on how asbestos claims would be presented to the Underwriters; (b) some claims fell exclusively under employer’s liability coverage; and (c) Common Cause Coverage  did not apply because the requirements of the First Advised Clause were not satisfied. Continue Reading »

New York Law Journal Article: “Arbitrator Evident Partiality Standard Under Scrutiny in ‘Scandinavian Re'”

May 20th, 2011 Appellate Practice, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Ethics, Evident Partiality, Grounds for Vacatur, Practice and Procedure, Reinsurance Arbitration, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, United States Supreme Court Comments Off on New York Law Journal Article: “Arbitrator Evident Partiality Standard Under Scrutiny in ‘Scandinavian Re'”

On May 18, 2011 the New York Law Journal published in its Outside Counsel section an article I wrote, which argues that the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit should reverse the district court’s judgment in Scandinavian Reinsurance Co. v. Saint Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co.,  No. 09 Civ. 9531(SAS), 2010 WL 653481, at *8 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 23, 2010), appeal pending No. 10-910-cv (2d Cir.). 

The article is reprinted below with permission, and I would like to thank Elaine Song, a member of the New York Law Journal’s editorial staff, for her assistance and work in getting this published in New York’s leading legal trade publication.   Continue Reading »

The Seventh Circuit Issues a Landmark Reinsurance Arbitration Opinion in Trustmark Ins. Co. v. John Hancock Life Ins. Co. (U.S.A.): Part III.A

March 9th, 2011 Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Awards, Ethics, Evident Partiality, Practice and Procedure, Reinsurance Arbitration, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York Comments Off on The Seventh Circuit Issues a Landmark Reinsurance Arbitration Opinion in Trustmark Ins. Co. v. John Hancock Life Ins. Co. (U.S.A.): Part III.A

Should the Second Circuit Reverse the District Court’s Judgment in Scandinavian Reinsurance Co. v. Saint Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co.?

I.       Introduction

Parts I and II of this three-part post discussed Chief Judge Frank H. Easterbrook’s decision in Trustmark Ins. Co. v. John Hancock Life Ins. Co. (U.S.A.), No. 09-3682, 2011 WL 285156 (7th Cir. Jan. 31, 2011), and said that Trustmark, in conjunction with  Sphere Drake Ins. Co. v. All American Life Ins. Co., 307 F.3d 617, 622 (7th Cir. 2002) (Easterbrook, J.),  demonstrates that the district court should not have vacated on evident partiality grounds the arbitration award in Scandinavian Reinsurance Co. v. Saint Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co, No. 09 Civ. 9531(SAS), 2010 WL 653481 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 23, 2010).     This Part III.A explains some of the reasons why that is so.  Continue Reading »

Second Circuit Arbitration Roundup 2011: January 1, 2011 – January 14, 2011

January 15th, 2011 Arbitrability, Arbitration Agreements, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Existence of Arbitration Agreement, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York Comments Off on Second Circuit Arbitration Roundup 2011: January 1, 2011 – January 14, 2011

In the first two weeks of the New Year the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decided two Federal Arbitration Act cases:  UBS Securities, LLC v. Voegeli, No. 10-0690-cv, slip op. (2d Cir. Jan. 4, 2011) (summary order), and Dedon GmbH v. Janus et Cie, No. 10-4331-cv, slip op. (2d Cir. Jan. 6, 2011) (summary order).  Both cases are summary orders, which under Second Circuit Local Rule 32.1.1, “do not have precedential effect.”  Second Circuit Local Rule 32.1.1(a). 

Each involved a dispute about the existence of an arbitration agreement.  In UBS Securities United States District Judge Denise L. Cote of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York entered a declaratory judgment that certain Swiss investors could not compel UBS to arbitrate their securities fraud claims, and permanently enjoined the Swiss investors from pursuing their claims in arbitration.  Affirming the district court, the Second Circuit held that UBS satisfied the three requisites of permanent injunctive relief:  1) success on the merits; 2) lack of an adequate remedy at law; and 3) irreparable harm.

As respects success on the merits, the Court held that UBS was not obligated to arbitrate with the Swiss investors, and therefore had succeeded on the merits.  Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) Code Rule 12200 provides that members can be compelled to arbitrate only 1) pursuant to a written agreement; or 2) where a customer requests arbitration.  FINRA R. 12200.  There was no written agreement to arbitrate between UBS and any of the Swiss investors and the Swiss investors were not customers of UBS.  See UBS Securities, slip op. at 3. 

As respects the lack of an adequate remedy at law and irreparable harm, the Court explained that under  Merrill Lynch Inv. v. Optibase, Ltd., 337 F.3d 125, 129 (2d Cir. 2003), “[b]eing forced to arbitrate a claim one did not agree to arbitrate constitutes an irreparable harm for which there is no remedy at law.”  Slip op. at 3.  Because UBS was not legally obligated to arbitrate, and because “the lack of an injunction would result in UBS effectively being required to do so, UBS satisfie[d] the ‘irreparable harm’ and ‘lack of an adequate remedy at law’ requirements for an injunction.”  Slip op. at 3.

Dedon concerned the familiar rule that disputes about the existence of a contract containing an arbitration agreement must be decided by the court (absent a clear and unmistakable post-dispute submission of that issue to arbitration).  Janus sought to compel arbitration before the International Chamber of Commerce (“ICC”) of an exclusive-distribution-agreement dispute, contending 1) the parties had agreed to arbitrate “as evidenced by a draft exclusive distribution agreement or the standard terms and conditions that accompanied each purchase;” and 2) Dedon had “waived its right to arbitrate through its conduct before the ICC” in London.  Slip op. at 2.  United States District Judge Colleen McMahon of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York denied the motion to compel and declined to stay the proceedings pending an ICC determination of the contract formation issue, holding that the dispute concerned the existence of an arbitration agreement and that Dedon had not unreservedly submitted the contract formation issue to ICC arbitration. 

The Second Circuit affirmed.  It said the United States Supreme Court in Granite Rock Co. v. Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters, ___ U.S. ___, 130 S. Ct. 2847, 2857-58 (2010), had “reconfirm[ed]” the Second Circuit’s “well-established precedent that where a party challenges the very existence of a contract containing an arbitration clause, a court cannot compel arbitration without first resolving the issue of the contract’s existence.”  Slip op. at 3 (citing Interocean Shipping Co. v. National Shipping & Trading Corp., 462 F.2d 673, 676 (2d Cir. 1972); Sphere Drake Ins. Ltd v. Clarendon Nat’l Ins. Co., 263 F.3d 26, 30 (2d Cir. 2001); Denny v. BDO Seidman LLP, 412 F.3d 58, 68 (2d Cir. 2005); Opals on Ice Lingerie v. Body Lines Inc., 320 F.3d 362, 369 (2d Cir. 2003); Sprecht v. Netscape Commc’ns Corp., 306 F.3d 17, 26 (2d Cir. 2002)).  Because Janus sought to compel arbitration based on a draft agreement containing an arbitration clause, the district court had to decide whether the parties had agreed to arbitrate. 

The Court held that Dedon had not waived its right to court determination of the contract formation issue.  The Court said that “Dedon’s submissions to the ICC were replete with statements that Dedon disputed the ICC’s jurisdiction; such repeated objections to ICC jurisdiction prevent a finding of waiver.  .  .  .”  Slip op. at 5 (citing First Options of Chicago, Inc. v. Kaplan, 514 U.S. 938, 946 (1995); Opals on Ice, 320 F.3d at 368).   

The Court also rejected Janus’ argument that an agreement to arbitrate “may be found in the terms and conditions that accompanied each purchase order between Dedon and Janus.”  Slip op. at 5:

On their face, the terms and conditions in those purchase orders govern the particular exchange of goods occurring with that purchase order — “[a]ll contractual and extra-contractual disputes arising out of or in connection with contracts to which these International Terms and Conditions apply, shall be finally resolved by arbitration” (emphasis added) — and do not purport to create or refer to any exclusive distribution relationship between the parties, which is the sole focus of the present suit. 

Janus also argues that the exclusive distribution agreement should be encompassed within the meaning of ‘pre-contractual and collateral obligations’ to the purchase orders.  Janus would thus have this court find that “any dispute related to any obligation arising prior to or outside of the contract formed by each shipment of goods” is governed by the purchase orders’ terms and conditions.  (emphasis in original)  We decline to adopt Janus’s broad reading of that contractual language, as it ignores the plain language of the purchase order, and we agree with the district court that the terms and conditions do not provide an alternative basis for compelling arbitration.

Slip op. at 5-6 (emphasis in original).

Dedon — the party who prevailed in the district court — argued that the district court should have denied the motion to compel with prejudice.  Dedon relied on Kahn Lucas Lancaster, Inc. v. Lark Int’l Ltd., 186 F.3d 210, 218 (2d Cir. 1999), partially abrogated on other grounds by Sarhank Group v. Oracle Corp., 404 F.3d 657, 660 n.2 (2d Cir. 2005), which held that under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, arbitration agreements, to be enforceable, “must be signed by the parties or contained within an exchange of letters or telegrams.”   186 F.3d at 218) (quoting Article II of the Convention).  But Dedon did not raise that argument before the district court, and so the Court said “the parties will have the opportunity to argue this issue at the trial on the existence of a contact.”  Slip op. at 6-7.  The Court also noted that the district court may “consider what effect, if any, [the Court’s] holding in Kahn Lucas has on any renewed motion to compel.”  Slip op. at 7.

 

[EDITOR’S NOTE:  (Summary orders “filed on or after January 1, 2007 may be cited in a document filed” with the Second Circuit, subject to Rule 32.1 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure and Local Rule 32.1.1.  See Second Circuit Local Rule 32.1.1(b)(1) ; Fed. R. App. P. 32.1.  “[A] party must cite either the Federal Appendix or an electronic database (with the notation ‘summary order)[,]” and “must serve a copy of it on every party not represented by counsel.”    Second Circuit Local Rule 32.1.1(c) & (d).]