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Court Denies Motion to Set Aside Confirmation of Arbitration Award, Rejecting Arguments of Excusable Neglect, Manifest Disregard of the Law, and Exceeding Powers

The case involved a dispute over an automobile equipment supply contract. The parties’ disagreement was arbitrated, and the prevailing party filed in federal court for confirmation of the award. The supplier, after losing the arbitration, failed to timely respond to the petition for confirmation due to the unexpected death of the husband of the firm’s paralegal. The death “caused unexpected disruptions in the paralegal and legal assistant’s schedules, leading to the [supplier’s] inadvertent failure to meet the award confirmation response deadline.”

The court noted that “the Sixth Circuit has considered excusable neglect in different contexts and repeatedly underscored that it is a difficult standard to satisfy.” The standard is so high that it is “met only in extraordinary cases.” In this case, the court found that the supplier acted in good faith but held that all three of the other factors weighed against a finding of excusable neglect. “Respondent must demonstrate more than just good faith to establish excusable neglect, and it has not done so here.”

Although the court had already determined the supplier had not met the standard to set aside the judgment for excusable neglect, it nevertheless went on to consider the grounds the supplier advanced for vacation of the arbitration award. The court rejected the supplier’s argument that the arbitrator manifestly disregarded the law by, among other things, failing to apply the Uniform Commercial Code and prohibiting the introduction of parol evidence allegedly showing that the supplier did not anticipatorily breach the contract at issue. The court found that the “arbitrator made clear that the contract was unambiguous and fully integrated as written, eliminating the need for parol evidence under the UCC.” The court also rejected the supplier’s argument that the arbitrator exceeded his powers when the arbitrator found that the supplier did not meet the standard to allege fraudulent misrepresentations outside the contract. The court explained that the arbitrator cited the exact case upon which the respondent was relying before the arbitrator had made his ruling. The court further found no basis for the supplier’s argument that “the award [was] not well-reasoned.”

Thyssenkrupp Presta Danville, LLC v. TFW Indus. Supply & CNC Machine, LLC, No. 2:19-mc-50863 (E.D. Mich. Oct. 31, 2019).

©2011-2022 Carlton Fields, P.A. National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 329
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About this Author

 Benjamin E. Stearns, Regulatory attorney, Carlton Fields
Associate

Benjamin Stearns’s practice focuses on regulated industries, primarily medical marijuana and property and casualty insurance. Benjamin works with state regulators to resolve compliance matters and negotiate enforcement actions. He also lobbies the Florida Legislature, and has testified before legislative committees.

In addition, Benjamin litigates insurance coverage matters and contests of government contract awards. He represented the state of Florida in an original action against Georgia in the United States Supreme Court over the apportionment of the waters in the Chattahoochee-...

850.425.3383
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