May 23, 2019 Articles

Third-Party Arbitration Summonses: Some Helpful Practice Pointers

A court rebuffed a variety of attacks on summonses issued by an arbitration panel and on the court’s jurisdiction.

By Stephen P. Gilbert

In Washington National Insurance Co. v. Obex Group LLC, No. 18-CV-9693 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 18, 2019), the petitioner, Washington National Insurance Company, asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to enforce two summonses issued by an American Arbitration Association panel against the respondents, Obex Group and its principal (Randall Katzenstein), who are not parties in the underlying arbitration in which the petitioner is one of the claimants. The court rebuffed a variety of attacks on its jurisdiction and on the summonses themselves. The panel and court together provide useful guidance for arbitrators dealing with third-party summonses, which are sometimes referred to as “third‑party subpoenas,” although the Federal Arbitration Act in section 7 denominates them as “summonses” (e.g., “Said summons shall issue in the name of the arbitrator. . . .”).

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