Jock, et al. v. Sterling Jewelers, Inc.

Plaintiffs, a group of retail sales employees of defendant, appealed from an order of the district court vacating an arbitration award on the ground that the arbitrator had exceeded her authority in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Stolt-Nielson S.A. v. AnimalFeeds International Corp. At issue was whether a district court had the authority to vacate an arbitration award where it believed that the arbitrator improperly interpreted the terms of an arbitration agreement. The court held that, because the district court did not undertake the appropriate inquiry - whether, based on the parties' submission for the arbitration agreement, the arbitrator had the authority to reach an issue, not whether the arbitrator decided the issue correctly - and instead substituted its own legal analysis for that of the arbitrator's, the court reversed the judgment of the district court. The court also held that, because the court found that the arbitrator acted within her authority to reach an issue properly submitted to her by the parties and reached her decision by analyzing the terms of the agreement in light of applicable law, the award should not have been vacated. Accordingly, the court remanded with instructions to confirm the award.