July 30, 2015 Articles

Ninth Circuit Reverses Mid-Arbitration Removal of Arbitrator

By Sheila J. Carpenter

In In re Sussex, 781 F.3d 1065 (9th Cir. 2015), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a writ of mandamus directing the district court to vacate its order removing the arbitrator in Sussex v. Turnberry/MGM Grand Towers, LLC, No. 2:08-cv-00773-MMD-PAL (D. Nev. Dec. 31, 2013), discussed in the Summer 2014 article "Pre-Award Removal of an Arbitrator." The district court complied with the writ on April 8, 2015, reinstating the arbitrator more than five years after his initial appointment.

Sussex involved claims by hundreds of purchasers against a condominium developer and related entities. At the defendants' request, the district court disqualified the single arbitrator due to his undisclosed involvement in a litigation financing business, finding that the arbitrator was disqualified under 9 U.S.C. ยง 10(a)(2) due to "evident partiality." The plaintiffs sought a writ of mandamus from the Ninth Circuit ordering the district court to vacate its disqualification order.

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