Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
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Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, claiming that Mastro's deprived him and other servers of a minimum wage in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the District of Columbia's Minimum Wage Revision Act. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Mastro's motion to compel arbitration, holding that a reasonable factfinder could conclude that plaintiff was unaware of the arbitration agreement during the course of his work at Mastro's, and that he therefore had no reason to believe his continued employment could be seen as an intent to be bound by the agreement. The court held that the district judge, in a comprehensive opinion, correctly treated Mastro's motion as if it sought summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) with respect to the question whether plaintiff had agreed to arbitrate. In this case, Mastro's was unable to produce a copy of an arbitration agreement bearing plaintiff's signature, or any other direct evidence of his assent to be bound by the policy. Furthermore, nothing in the record negates plaintiff's sworn declaration that he was unaware of the agreement's existence and had no reason to believe he had relinquished his right to a trial. View "Camara v. Mastro's Restaurants LLC" on Justia Law

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Appellant filed suit claiming damages under the Consent Decree created in the 1999 settlement between the Department of Agriculture and a class of African American farmers. After the arbitrator denied the claims, appellant petitioned the district court for "monitor review" of the arbitrator's decision. The district court denied the petition and appellant's two motions for reconsideration. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that monitor review of the arbitrator's decision would have been futile because there was no evidence of appellant's incompetency in the record before the arbitrator. In this case, appellant's actions could be interpreted as a product of irrationality or confusion or frustration but do not support an inference of incompetence. The court also affirmed the district court's decision declining to modify the consent decree under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5), because appellant's counsel failed to meet the arbitration deadlines. View "Pigford v. Perdue" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment refusing to enforce an arbitral award against the Czech Republic Ministry of Health and in favor of Diag Human, S.E., a corporation organized under the laws of the Principality of Liechtenstein. The court held that the final award was not binding on the Czech Republic where, not only the termination of the review, but also the content of the arbitration review panel's "Resolution," prevented the final award from becoming binding. Pursuant to the agreement, the parties had recourse to another arbitration panel, which was sufficient to prevent the award from becoming binding at that time. View "Diag Human S.E. v. Czech Republic - Ministry of Health" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's enforcement of the arbitration panel's award against Argentina. The panel held that Argentina was liable to AWG for breach of a contract for the country's water services. Argentina argued that a member of the arbitration panel had, with a connection to two of the parties to the proceeding, shown "evident partiality" under 9 U.S.C. 10(a)(2), and that the way the panel reached its determination exceeded its authority under section 10(a)(4). The court held that the interests at issue were trivial and could not have created evident partiality. Therefore, the court found no basis to vacate the panel's award under section 10(a)(2) of the Federal Arbitration Act. The court also held that Argentina failed to show that the panel's decision had no basis in the governing arbitration agreement. Likewise, the court could not vacate the award under the New York Convention. View "Republic of Argentina v. AWG Group Ltd." on Justia Law

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Leidos moved to convert an arbitration award into U.S. dollars based on the exchange rate on July 2, 2013, the date of the original arbitral award. The DC Circuit reversed the district court's grant of the motion, holding that the district court mistakenly granted the motion. The court explained that the exchange rate had dropped 19.1 per cent from the award date to the judgment date, and thus the total dollar value of the conversion increased the value of the arbitral award by approximately $11.9 million. View "Leidos, Inc. v. Hellenic Republic" on Justia Law

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In this contract dispute between Getma and the Republic of Guinea, the Common Court of Justice and Arbitration of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (CCJA), a court of supranational jurisdiction for Western and Central African States, set aside an award in favor of Getma. Getma sought to enforce the annulled award in the United States. The D.C. Circuit held that the CCJA is "a competent authority" for purposes of article V(1)(e) of the New York Convention, and for reasons of international comity, the court declined to second-guess a competent authority's annulment of an arbitral award absent extraordinary circumstances. Because Getma's arguments failed under this stringent standard, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court refusing to enforce the award. View "Getma International v. Republic of Guinea" on Justia Law