Articles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals

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In two unconsolidated cases, UBCJA and SWRCC (collectively, Carpenters) appealed the district court's confirmation of two arbitration awards in favor of Plasterers. The court concluded that these cases were not moot because future arbitrable jurisdictional disputes raising the same legal issue seem reasonably likely to occur; in Case No. 11-7161, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying briefing and argument on the timing issue; in Case No. 11-7155, the district court correctly declined to give Jordan Interiors I estoppel effect in Frye; and, on the merits, the court rejected Carpenters' challenges to the arbitrators' authority to enter their respective awards. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grants of summary judgment to the Plasterers, thereby confirming the arbitrators' awards in their favor. View "United Brotherhood of Carpenters v. Operative Plasterers' & Cement Masons' Int'l Ass'n" on Justia Law

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GSS Group brought this action to confirm a foreign arbitration award against the Port Authority of Liberia. The district court dismissed the petition for lack of personal jurisdiction after concluding that the Port Authority did not have sufficient contacts with the United States. The court concluded that the Port Authority claimed to be an independent juridical entity in its motion to dismiss, and GSS Group failed to contest that characterization. GSS Group's omission left in tact the Bancec presumption, First National City Bank v. Banco Para el Comercio Exterior de Cuba, which, under TMR Energy v. State Property Fund of Ukraine, guaranteed the Port Authority treatment as a separate "person" entitled to due process protection. That protection included the right to assert a minimum contacts defense. GSS Group had not identified any connection between the Port Authority and the United States and conceded that none existed. Therefore, the district court correctly dismissed the petition for lack of personal jurisdiction. View "GSS Group Ltd v. National Port Authority" on Justia Law

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PTO sought review of a decision of the FLRA upholding an arbitrator's award in favor of the Union. The arbitrator concluded that PTO committed an unfair labor practice in violation of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, 5 U.S.C. 7116(a)(1) and (5), when it repudiated a provision in an agreement requiring that it make an annual request of the OPM to increase PTO's special schedule pay rates and, if OPM refused, to discuss "substantially equivalent alternatives" with POPA. PTO challenged the FLRA's determination that the provision constituted an "appropriate arrangement" under 5 U.S.C. 7106(b)(3). The court granted PTO's petition on the ground that, under the collateral estoppel doctrine, the FLRA was bound by its earlier decision concluding the provision did not constitute an appropriate arrangement. View "U.S. Dept. of Commerce v. FLRA" on Justia Law

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The Republic of Argentina appealed the denial of its motion to vacate an arbitral award on the principal ground that the arbitral panel exceeded its authority by ignoring the terms of the parties' agreement. The court held that where, as here, the result of the arbitral award was to ignore the terms of the Bilateral Investment Treaty - between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Argentina - and shifted the risk that the Argentine courts might not resolve BG Group's claim within eighteen months pursuant to Article 8(2) of the Treaty, the arbitral panel rendered a decision wholly based on outside legal sources and without regard to the contracting parties' agreement establishing a precondition to arbitration. Accordingly, the court reversed the orders denying the motion to vacate and granting the cross-motion to confirm, and vacated the Final Award. View "Republic of Argentina v. BG Group PLC" on Justia Law

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This case involved a petition to confirm and enforce a foreign arbitration award against the Government of Belize pursuant to section 207 of the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 207. The facts underlying the issuance of the challenged stay order involved a telecommunication agreement with the government of Belize. Plaintiff appealed an order staying the proceeding pending the outcome of related litigation in Belize. The court concluded that the stay order as issued exceeded the proper exercise of authority of the district court and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Belize Social Dev. Ltd. v. Government of Belize" on Justia Law

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This case involved a motion for fees and costs under section 307(f) of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7607(f), which authorized courts to award costs of litigation whenever they determined that such award was appropriate. In the underlying litigation, movants intervened on behalf of petitioners who were challenging EPA rules regulating mercury emissions from power plants. The court vacated the mercury rules and agreed with petitioners that the rules violated the Act. Movants subsequently sought the court to order the EPA to pay their fees and costs. The court concluded that movants merited a fee award because they contributed to the proper implementation and administration of the Act or otherwise served the public interest. The court declined, however, to weigh in on the appropriate amount. Instead, the court directed the parties to its Appellate Mediation Program. View "State of New Jersey, et al. v. EPA" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from appellee's legal representation of appellant in a criminal tax fraud case. Appellee subsequently filed a lawsuit against appellant for recovery of unpaid attorneys' fees and appellant counterclaimed for malpractice and later petitioned for arbitration before the District of Columbia Attorney/Client Arbitration Board (ACAB), an arm of the District of Columbia Bar. Appellant also moved the district court for a stay pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 3, the denial of which he appealed. At issue was whether appellant was "in default" of his right to arbitrate. The court affirmed the district court's denial of the stay where appellant failed to make a timely assertion of his right to arbitrate and his litigation activity, after he filed his initial answer and counterclaim, imposed substantial costs upon appellee and the district court. View "Zuckerman Spaeder LLP v. Auffenberg, Jr." on Justia Law

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Appellee filed an action against appellants, sisters who were traveling together aboard Pan Am Airways Flight 73 when Libyan terrorists hijacked the plane and held it for sixteen hours on the tarmac in Pakistan, seeking to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitrarion Act ("Arbitration Act"), 9 U.S.C. 4. While the suit was pending, the United States and Libya reached a diplomatic settlement where Libya agreed to deposit $1.5 billion into a settlement fund and Congress provided for the implementation of the settlement fund for all terrorism-related litigation against Libya in American courts. At issue was whether the district court properly granted a motion to compel arbitration under section 4 of the Arbitration Act. The court affirmed the district court's grant of the motion to compel and held that the Libyan Claims Resolution Act, 28 U.S.C. 1605A, did not prevent the district court from ordering arbitration of the underlying dispute.

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Argentina appealed the district court's dismissal of its motion to extend where Argentina had violated a Bilateral Investment Treaty when it implemented several emergency measures in response to the nation's financial crisis. An arbitration panel determined that Argentina was liable to National Grid PLC, ("National Grid") which had been operating in Argentina under the auspices of the treaty. At issue was whether National Grid forfeited its timeliness defense, whether the district court erred in treating Argentina's motion to extend as moot, and whether the district court erred in ultimately finding service to be untimely. Also at issue was whether the district court erred in granting a confirmation motion without first giving Argentina the opportunity to raise defenses available under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, 9 U.S.C. 201-208. The court rejected Argentina's argument that National Grid had forfeited its timeliness defense where it had expressly preserved this defense in the joint stipulation and then raised it in its first responsive pleading. The court also held that the district court had no authority to grant Argentina's motion to extend time to serve notice and therefore acted within its discretion in treating the motion as moot. Absent any evidence of timely service of notice, the court affirmed the dismissal of Argentina's motion to vacate the arbitral awards. The court further affirmed National Grid's cross-motion for recognition of the arbitral award where Argentina had ample time to raise defenses but made no attempt to raise such defects in the district court.