Broom v. AXA Advisors LLC et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Abdul K Kallon on 01/11/2022. (AKD)
2022 Jan-11 PM 02:08
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
AXA ADVISORS, LLC, et al.,
Civil Action Number
Curtis Broom filed a petition to vacate an arbitration award entered against
him in an arbitration between Broom and Joseph Moore, as claimants, and AXA
Advisors, LLC, and AXA Network, LLC, as respondents. Doc. 1 at 1. The
arbitration was based on Broom’s claims that AXA discriminated against him on the
basis of his race. Id.; doc. 10 at 1. In his petition to vacate, Broom argues that the
arbitrator refused to hear pertinent evidence, refused to order the appearance of key
witnesses, and exceeded her authority in entering the award. Doc. 1 at 1-3.
Now before the court is AXA’s motion to dismiss Broom’s petition. Doc. 5.
AXA contends that Broom failed to timely serve his petition on the defendants and
that his petition must therefore be dismissed. See id. AXA’s motion is due to be
Under the Federal Arbitration Act, a party to an arbitration proceeding may
petition a United States district court to vacate an arbitration award on certain
See 9 U.S.C. § 10.
The FAA “imposes strict
procedural requirements on parties seeking to vacate arbitration awards.” Johnson
v. Directory Assistants Inc., 797 F.3d 1294, 1299 (11th Cir. 2015). Relevant to this
case, the FAA requires that “[n]otice of a motion to vacate, modify, or correct an
award must be served upon the adverse party or his attorney within three months
after the award is filed or delivered.” 9 U.S.C. § 12. Even if a plaintiff timely files
a petition to vacate an arbitration award, the petition is time-barred if the plaintiff
fails to serve notice on the opposing party before the three-month statutory period
expires. O’Neal Constructors, LLC v. DRT Am., LLC, 991 F.3d 1376, 1378-79 (11th
Here, the arbitrator entered her award on July 2, 2021, and the award was
delivered to the parties on July 6, 2021. Docs. 1 at 1; 5 at 4. Broom filed his petition
to vacate the award on October 1, 2021. See doc. 1. Under the terms of the FAA,
Broom had until October 5, 2021 – three months after the award was delivered – to
serve notice of his petition on AXA or defense counsel. See 9 U.S.C. § 12. On
October 8, 2021, three days after this statutory time period expired, Broom’s counsel
sent an email to defense counsel with a copy of his petition to vacate attached. Docs.
5 at 5; 5-1 at 5. Broom subsequently asked defense counsel to accept or waive
service on behalf of AXA. Docs. 5 at 5-6; 5-1 at 5-9. Counsel declined, doc. 5-1 at
11, and Broom then served AXA by certified mail on November 2, 2021, docs. 3; 4;
5 at 6.
Broom does not dispute any of these facts, and indeed acknowledges that his
email to defense counsel notifying AXA of his petition came after the expiration of
the statutory deadline. See doc. 10 at 1. Instead, Broom asks the court to remember
that “in the Birmingham area, it is customary for each law firm and lawyer devoted
to defending corporate interests to receive a daily notification of all civil actions filed
in the United States District Courts of Alabama.” Id. at 3-4. “In other words,”
Broom argues, “one can be sure that [defense] counsel had notice of this action and,
further, that [defense] counsel in this action transmitted that notice to [AXA’s inhouse] counsel in this action.” Id. at 4. Broom contends further that “it is not
uncommon for members of the corporate defense bar to send notices of complaints
to companies which they have represented, but which they no longer represent, or
even to companies which they have never represented at all,” and that it therefore
“may well be that someone at [a firm that previously represented AXA] or even at
another, completely unrelated firm notified [AXA]” of Broom’s petition. Id.
The mere filing of a petition – even if that filing is widely seen in the local
legal community – is not a substitute for the statutory requirement that “[n]otice . . .
must be served on an adverse party or his counsel.” 9 U.S.C. § 12 (emphasis added);
see O’Neal, 991 F.3d at 1379. Broom offers no support for his contention that notice
by publication is sufficient under the FAA, and he does not claim that AXA had any
notice of his intention to file the instant petition before the October 8, 2021, email
to defense counsel. See doc. 10 at 3-5. Even if this email were sufficient notice, 1 it
was still sent to defense counsel more than three months after the arbitration award
was entered, and Broom has not raised any argument supporting the equitable tolling
of the FAA’s strict notice requirements. Broom has thus failed to comply with the
FAA, and his petition to vacate is therefore time-barred.
Accordingly, the defendants’ motion to dismiss is due to be granted in a
separate order effectuating this opinion.
Broom appears to argue that his email to counsel satisfied the FAA’s notice requirement because
AXA’s lawyers asked him not to contact their client, AXA, directly. See doc. 10 at 1-3. The
Eleventh Circuit disagrees. See O’Neal, 991 F.3d at 1378 (“This is an arbitration case presenting
the question of whether the required service of a ‘notice of a motion to vacate’ under 9 U.S.C. §
12 is accomplished by emailing to opposing counsel a ‘courtesy copy’ of a memorandum in
support of that motion [before the expiration of the statutory deadline]. The answer is ‘no’ where,
as here, the party to be served did not expressly consent in writing to service by email.”).
DONE the 11th day of January, 2022.
ABDUL K. KALLON
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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