The Arbitral Tribunal - Chapter 4 - AAA Yearbook on Arbitration and the Law - 28th Edition
Originally from the AAA Yearbook on Arbitration and the Law - 28th Edition
4.01 Disqualification of Arbitrators: Evident Partiality and Related Grounds
Kolel Beth Yechiel Mechil of Tartikov, Inc. v. YLL Irrevocable Trust, 729 F.3d 99 (2d Cir. 2013)
The arbitrator’s conduct did not reach the threshold to warrant vacatur when he talked to a non-party about his opinion before the final decision, scheduled a meeting when the movant’s chosen arbitrator was unavailable, and heard only one witness.
The parties submitted the dispute over life insurance policies to rabbinical arbitration panel. The panel issued an award in favor of Kolel; the trust moved for vacatur under § 10(a) for bias, corruption, and failure to consider evidence.
A non-party overheard one of the arbitration panelists tell another non-party that the panelist needs one week and then he will award in favor of Kolel. The same panelist held a crucial meeting when the trust’s chosen arbitrator was unavailable. These speculative instances, along with no transcript of the arbitration proceedings, did not meet the high burden for demonstrating impartiality.
The trust alleged the panelist’s interruption of the only witness. The court, however, determined that even if these facts were true, the trust had failed to prove that the panel violated “fundamental fairness” because the issue was contractual interpretation. The proceeding lasted thirty hours in total and the panel briefly explained its answer. The award should not be vacated.
Citations and References:
a. Scandinavian Reins. Co. v. Saint Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 668 F.3d 60 (2d Cir. 2012) (two arbitrators failed to disclose concurrent service in a similar arbitration, but were not considered to act with “evident partiality”).
b. Applied Indus. Materials Corp. v. Ovalar Makine Ticaret Ve Sanayi, A.S., 492 F.3d 132 (2d Cir. 2007) (arbitrator is disqualified only when a reasonable person must conclude the arbitrator was partial).
c. Three S Del., Inc. v. DataQuick Info. Sys., Inc., 492 F.3d 520, 530 (4th Cir. 2007) (providing the factors used to determine the presence of evident partiality in an arbitrator’s nondisclosure).
d. Thomas C. Baer, Inc. v. Architectural & Ornamental Iron Workers Local Union No. 580, 813 F.2d 562, 565 (2d Cir. 1987) (adverse rulings alone are rarely evidence of partiality, whether or not those adverse rulings are made by arbitrators).
e. Flexible Mfg. Sys. Pty. Ltd. v. Super Prods. Corp., 86 F.3d 96 (7th Cir. 1996) (must show clear and convincing evidence for bias).