RZS Holdings AVV v. PDVSA Petroleo S.A.

Filing 920100616

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UNPUBLISHED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT No. 09-1171 RZS HOLDINGS AVV, Plaintiff - Appellant, v. PDVSA PETROLEO S.A.; ALI RODRIGUEZ ARAQUE; RODOLFO PORRO; JOSE ROJAS; IVAN HERNANDEZ; FELIX RODRIGUEZ; NELSON MARTINEZ; DESTER RODRIGUEZ; LUIS VIERMA; RAFAEL ROSALES; NELSON NUNEZ; VICTOR ALVAREZ, Defendants - Appellees. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Alexandria. Gerald Bruce Lee, District Judge. (1:04-cv-00784-GBL-TRJ) Argued: May 12, 2010 Decided: June 16, 2010 Before TRAXLER, Chief Judge, MOTZ, Circuit Judge, and Arthur L. ALARCÓN, Senior Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, sitting by designation. Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion. ARGUED: Henry St. John FitzGerald, Arlington, Virginia, for Appellant. Christopher O. Davis, BAKER, DONELSON, BEARMAN, CALDWELL & BERKOWITZ, PC, New Orleans, Louisiana, for Appellees. ON BRIEF: Matthew A. Woolf, BAKER, DONELSON, BEARMAN, CALDWELL & BERKOWITZ, PC, New Orleans, Louisiana; Joseph F. Giordano, SEMMES, BOWEN & SEMMES, Vienna, Virginia, for Appellees. Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit. 2 PER CURIAM: RZS Holdings AVV ("RZS") appeals the order of the district court granting the motion of PDVSA Petroleo S.A. ("PDVSA") to confirm the arbitral award rendered in favor of PDVSA by the ICC International Court of Arbitration ("ICC"). We affirm. I. RZS and PDVSA entered into a contract for RZS to deliver petroleum to PDVSA in Venezuela. delivery of the petroleum. sued PDVSA in Virginia PDVSA ultimately did not take After negotiations broke down, RZS state court, alleging a breach of contract. PDVSA removed the case to federal court, and then submitted it to arbitration as provided by the terms of the contract. breached breach. A three-member panel of the ICC found that PDVSA had the contract, but awarded RZS no damages for that PDVSA then moved the district court to confirm the award, and thus make it a binding judgment in United States courts. During the hearing on that motion, RZS's attorney withdrew from representation. The district court then confirmed the award without allowing RZS a continuance to find replacement counsel. RZS appealed, and we reversed and remanded, holding See RZS that the district court had denied RZS due process. 3 Holdings AVV v. PDVSA Petroleo S.A., 506 F.3d 350 (4th Cir. 2007). II. On remand, of now the with new counsel, award, RZS again challenged that the confirmation arbitration alleging arbitration tribunal had exhibited bias in favor of PDVSA, that the tribunal had failed and to consider the the evidence in an were evenhanded manner, that arbitral proceedings defective because PDVSA had paid the tribunal's entire fee when RZS was incapable of paying its share. The district court granted RZS limited discovery, and RZS deposed the arbitrators and attempted to gather evidence to support its allegations. When this discovery produced no evidence to corroborate RZS's claims, RZS requested additional discovery and a hearing, which the district court denied. After considering the evidence, the district court again granted PDVSA's motion to confirm the award. initially held that the Inter-American Arbitration supplied the The district court Convention on International Convention") Commercial governed and ("Inter-American grounds for exclusive refusing to enforce the arbitral award, and that RZS's arguments did not address criteria specified by the Inter-American Convention. Alternatively, the district court assumed that, as 4 RZS had argued, the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA") governed RZS's claims, and held that RZS had failed to establish that the tribunal had done anything improper that would justify a refusal to confirm the award under the FAA. RZS noted this appeal. III. We have carefully considered the record, the briefs, and the oral arguments, and we affirm on the basis of the district court's well-reasoned opinion. See RZS Holdings AVV v. PDVSA Given that on Petoleos S.A., 598 F. Supp. 2d 762 (E.D. Va. 2009). opinion, appeal. RZS primarily argues that the district court we need only briefly address RZS's contentions erred in holding that the Inter-American Convention, and not the FAA, governs review of the award in this case. that the court should refuse to confirm RZS argues further the award under § 10(a)(2)-(3) of the FAA, which states that a court may vacate an arbitral award: (2) where there was evident partiality or corruption in the arbitrators, or either of them; [or] (3) where the arbitrators were guilty of misconduct in refusing to postpone the hearing, upon sufficient cause shown, or in refusing to hear evidence pertinent and material to the controversy; or of any other misbehavior by which the rights of any party have been prejudiced . . . . 5 9 U.S.C. § 10 (2006). All of RZS's allegations of partiality, Thus, even assuming corruption, and misconduct are baseless. that the FAA applies, we hold that RZS has failed to demonstrate that the district court should have refused to confirm the ICC's award. RZS next contends that to enforce the award would violate its due process rights. RZS's other allegations properly sum of This claim is merely an amalgamation of of impropriety -all The of which is the no has district greater court than found its meritless. parts. whole the Additionally, RZS presented literally no authority (nor have we discovered any) in support of its argument that enforcement of the ICC's award would violate RZS's rights to due process. Finally, RZS's argument that the district court erred by refusing to order additional discovery or an evidentiary hearing on the issue of arbitrator bias also fails. "This Court affords a district court substantial discretion in managing discovery and reviews for the denial of or granting of a motion Star to compel & discovery abuse discretion." Lone Steakhouse Saloon, Inc. v. Alpha of Va., Inc., 43 F.3d 922, 929 (4th Cir. 1995). We find no such abuse here. The district court allowed RZS to depose the arbitrators on the subject of bias, and these 6 depositions revealed only that RZS's allegations lacked factual basis. IV. The judgment of the district court is AFFIRMED. 7

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