Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court affirming the judgment of the superior court dismissing as untimely Plaintiff's application to vacate an arbitration award, holding that the thirty-day limitation period set forth in Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-420(b) applied to Plaintiff's application to vacate.The trial court concluded that Plaintiff's application to vacate an arbitration award rendered in favor of Defendants was untimely under section 52-420(b) because the application was filed more than thirty days after Plaintiff received notice of the arbitration award. The appellate court affirmed. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the appellate court erred in concluding that its application to vacate the arbitration award was governed by section 52-420(b), in contravention of a private agreement between the parties. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly held that section 52-420(b) applied to Plaintiff's application to vacate. View "A Better Way Wholesale Autos, Inc. v. Saint Paul" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court granting the City of Waterbury's motion to dismiss this action seeking to have the trial court confirm an interest arbitration award, holding that the trial court correctly determined that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to confirm the award under Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-417.Brass City Local, CACP (the union), a collective bargaining unit that represented employees of the Waterbury Police Department, brought this action seeking confirmation of an arbitration award issued in accordance with the provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-473c of the Municipal Employees Relations Act (MERA). The trial court granted the City's motion to dismiss, concluding that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to consider the union's application to confirm. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court correctly determined that it lacked jurisdiction under section 52-417 to confirm an interest arbitration award issued pursuant to section 7-473c. View "Brass City Local, CACP v. City of Waterbury" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the trial court granting Plaintiff's motion to vacate an arbitration award and denying Defendant's corresponding application to confirm the award, holding that the arbitrator did not exceed her authority or manifestly disregard the law, but the inclusion of issues related to child support in the award was improper.Before the parties were married they executed a premarital agreement. Years later, Plaintiff brought this action to dissolve the marriage, and the parties executed a binding agreement to arbitrate the dissolution action. At issue was the validity of the arbitrator's award dividing the equity in the parties' marital home and assigning responsibility for certain expenses related to child support. The trial court granted Plaintiff's motion to vacate the portion of the arbitration award. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court erred in ruling that the arbitrator's award exceed the scope of the parties' submission; (2) any error in distributing the equity in the marital home would not permit a court to vacate the arbitration award; and (3) because Connecticut law prohibits the inclusion of issues related to child support in arbitration awards, this portion of the award is reversed. View "Blondeau v. Baltierra" on Justia Law

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In this construction dispute between a property owner and a general contractor the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court that, in the absence of clear evidence of contrary intent by the parties, subcontractors are presumptively in privity with the general contractor for purposes of res judicata as to the subcontractors' claims that did not participate in arbitration.These appeals arose from disputes regarding the construction of a store expansion. Plaintiffs, the store owners, and the general contractor, pursuant to a contract between them, entered arbitration to resolve various disputes regarding the project. None of the five subcontractors (Defendants) were formally a party to the arbitration. The arbitrator issued an award ordering Plaintiffs to pay the general contractor $508,597 for sums due. Plaintiffs subsequently filed suit seeking to recover from Defendants. Defendants moved for summary judgment based on res judicata. The trial court denied the motions on the grounds that Defendants were not parties to the arbitration and were not in privity with the general contractor. The appellate court reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendants were in privity with the general contractor for purposes of res judicata and that Plaintiffs' claims were barred because they could have been raising during the arbitration. View "Girolametti v. Michael Horton Associates, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this dispute between the Board of Education of the Town of New Milford (Board) and the New Milford Education Association (Union) the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying the Board's application to vacate a grievance arbitration award and granting the Union's application to confirm the grievance arbitration award, holding that the arbitrator did not manifestly disregard the law and properly concluded that the Union's grievance was arbitrable.The Union, which represented the teachers employed by the Board, filed a grievance alleging that the Board had violated an agreement between the parties. The arbitrator decided the grievance in the Union's favor. The trial court denied the Board's application to vacate the grievance arbitration award and granted the Union's application to confirm the award. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court (1) correctly denied the Board's application to vacate the grievance arbitration award on the grounds that the arbitrator manifestly disregarded the law by concluding that the doctrines of collateral estoppel and res judicata did not apply to bar the Union's grievance; and (2) the trial court properly concluded that the Union's grievance was arbitrable under the terms of the agreement. View "Board of Education of Town of New Milford v. New Milford Education Ass'n" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court vacating an arbitration award setting the amount of an insured loss caused by a tree falling on the insured home.After her property suffered a casualty loss, Plaintiff filed a claim under the policy insuring her property. The parties’ adjusters were unable to agree on the amount of the loss, and Plaintiff invoked the policy’s appraisal provision., which provided that the award was not conditioned on judicial review. After the appraisal panel issued its arbitration award Plaintiff filed an application with the superior court seeking to vacate the award. The trial court granted the application to vacate on the grounds that it violated Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-418. The Supreme Court held that the trial court improperly vacated the arbitration award because the arbitrators did not violate section 52-418. View "Kellogg v. Middlesex Mutual Assurance Co." on Justia Law

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Genovese v. Gallo Wine Merchants, Inc., 628 A.2d 946 (Conn. 1993), which held that, under Con. Gen. Stat. 31-51bb, a factual determination made in a final and binding arbitration conducted pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement does not have a preclusive effect in a subsequent action claiming a constitutional or statutory violation, is still good law.Plaintiff brought the present action alleging that her termination was in retaliation for bringing a previous action against Defendant alleging sex discrimination and for engaging in protected speech. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiff’s claims were barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel because the factual underpinnings of the claims had been decided against her by the board of mediation in arbitration proceedings. The trial court denied the motion, citing Genovese. Defendant appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, thus declining Defendant’s invitation to overrule Genovese. View "Spiotti v. Wolcott" on Justia Law

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A police union and the City of Norwalk were parties to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) governing the terms and conditions of employment for certain city police officers. The CBA provided that disputes over its interpretation will be resolved through arbitration. The Board of Police Commissioners determined that Stephen Couture, a police sergeant employed by the Norwalk Police Department, had violated departmental rules and that his employment should be terminated. Couture ultimately initiated an arbitration proceeding with the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration, and a majority of the arbitration board found that Couture had been terminated for just cause. The trial court vacated the arbitration award on the ground that the City had disciplined Couture twice for the same misconduct in manifest disregard of the law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the arbitration board’s decision was not in manifest disregard of the law, and therefore, the trial court improperly vacated the award of the arbitration board. View "Norwalk Police Union, Local 1727 v. City of Norwalk" on Justia Law

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Before they were married, Wife and Husband entered a prenuptial agreement. Approximately ten years later, Wife brought a marital dissolution action against Husband. In accordance with an agreement to arbitrate in the prenuptial agreement, the trial court ordered the parties to proceed to arbitration on the matter of the sale of the parties’ residence. The arbitrator issued a partial award and then a final award. The trial court confirmed the partial award and confirmed in part, modified in part, and vacated in part the final arbitration award. Defendant appealed. The trial court subsequently entered judgment dissolving the marriage, allocating property, interpreting the prenuptial agreement, and deciding all pending motions. Defendant filed a second appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court properly applied Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-66(c) to the agreement to arbitrate contained within the prenuptial agreement; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying Defendant’s motion for leave to file an amended answer and cross complaint; and (3) the arbitrator did not exceed her authority by issuing orders in contravention of the express terms of the prenuptial agreement. View "LaFrance v. Lodmell" on Justia Law

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Grievant, a state employee and a member of a Union, was terminated after he was caught smoking marijuana. The Union contested Grievant’s termination. Concluding that complete termination of Grievant’s conduct was not the only appropriate penalty for his misconduct, an arbitrator reinstated Grievant to his employment and imposed a number of sanctions and conditions short of termination. The trial court vacated the award, concluding that there was a well-defined public policy against the use of marijuana and that the arbitrator’s award violated that policy. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred in concluding that reinstatement of the Grievant violated public policy. View "State v. Conn. Employees Union Indep." on Justia Law