June 16, 2014 Articles

Arbitration Panels May Limit Discovery and Evidence

By Sheila J. Carpenter

In Doral Financial Corp. v. Garcia-Velez, 725 F.3d 27 (1st Cir. 2013), LJL 33rd Street Associates v. Pitcairn Associates Properties, 725 F.3d 184 (2d Cir. 2013), and Bain Cotton Co. v. Chesnutt Cotton Co., 531 F. App'x 500, Appeal 12-11138 (5th Cir. June 24, 2013), the appeals each involved a losing party attempting to vacate an arbitration award by arguing that when the arbitrator(s) refused to give the parties free rein in seeking discovery or offering evidence, the arbitrators' decisions were "misconduct" or "evident partiality or corruption," thus warranting vacatur pursuant to § 10 of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) (9 U.S.C. § 10). None prevailed.

May Arbitrators Deny a Party's Untimely Request for Third-Party Subpoenas?
InDoral Financial, the First Circuit considered an arbitration panel's authority to refuse to issue third-party subpoenas on the panel's determination that the subpoenas requested were both untimely and overly broad. Doral fired García-Vélez from his position as president of its consumer banking division. He filed for arbitration, claiming to be entitled to a large severance package pursuant to his employment agreement with Doral; Doral asserted that he had been dismissed for cause. When García-Vélez notified Doral that he had accepted a senior position at a bank in Miami that competed with Doral in Puerto Rico, it asserted an alleged breach of the noncompetition clause in their agreement as an additional defense. It also sued García-Vélez's new employer in state court.  

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