Huitt v. Wilbanks Securities, Inc.
ORDER by Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak on 10/19/2017. Plaintiffs Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award 1 is GRANTED insofar as it seeks confirmation of the Arbitration Award but DENIED insofar as it seeks an award of attorneys fees and costs ; Defendants Opposition to Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award and Cross-Motion to Vacate Arbitration Award 23 is DENIED; The Arbitration Award [ 1 -2] is CONFIRMED; and The Clerk shall enter judgment in favor of Plaintiff and against Defendant as set forth in the Arbitration Award. (jgonz, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Civil Action No. 17-cv-00919-STV
GRACE S. HUITT,
WILBANKS SECURITIES, INC.,
Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak
This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff’s Petition to Confirm Arbitration
Award (the “Petition”), filed April 14, 2017 [#1], and Defendant’s Opposition to Petition to
Confirm Arbitration Award and Cross-Motion to Vacate Arbitration Award (the “CrossMotion”), filed July 20, 2017 [#23]. The Petition and Cross-Motion are before the Court
on the Parties’ consent to have a United States magistrate judge conduct all
proceedings in this action and to order the entry of a final judgment. [#13, 14] This
Court has carefully considered the Petition and Cross-Motion and related briefing, the
entire case file, and the applicable case law, and has determined that oral argument
would not materially assist in the disposition of the Petition and Cross-Motion. For the
following reasons, I GRANT the Petition to the extent it seeks confirmation of the
arbitration award and DENY the Cross-Motion.
On September 23, 2008, Plaintiff purchased an ING Landmark Variable Annuity
(the “Annuity”) through Defendant’s then-registered representative, John Stevens. [#23
at 3, #26-3 at 2-3] According to Plaintiff, Mr. Stevens promised a seven percent annual
growth guarantee on the Annuity for at least the first four years of the contract, after
which there would be no surrender fees. [#26-3 at 3] The New Account Form signed
by Plaintiff and Mr. Stevens (on behalf of Defendant) contained an arbitration provision
pursuant to which “[a]ll parties to [the] agreement [gave] up the right to sue each other
in court, including the right to a trial by jury, except as provided by the rules of the
arbitration forum in which a claim is filed.” [#1-1] The arbitration provision contained a
number of agreed upon guidelines for the arbitration, including that “[t]he arbitrators do
not have to explain the reason(s) for their award.” [Id.]
In addition to the arbitration provision, the New Account Form also included a
separate provision entitled “Governing Law.” [Id.] This section of the agreement stated
that the “agreement shall be governed by the laws of the State of Oklahoma, exclusive
of that state’s choice-of-law provisions.” [Id.] The Governing Law section also included
a sentence stating that “[t]he provisions of this Agreement shall be continuous and
cover individually and collectively all accounts which the undersigned may open or
reopen with you and shall inure to the benefit of yourselves, your successors and
assigns and shall be binding upon the undersigned and/or the estate, executors,
administrators and assigns of the undersigned.” [Id.]
According to Plaintiff, at some point in 2012, she received $2,158,536.18 from
the Annuity, which was $594,135.44 less than what was promised by Mr. Stevens.
[#26-3 at 3] On January 22, 2016, Plaintiff initiated arbitration against Defendant by
filing a Statement of Claim (the “Claim”). [#23 at 3] The arbitration was conducted
before a Financial Industry Regulation Authority (“FINRA”) panel of three arbitrators (the
During the course of the arbitration, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss arguing
that Plaintiff’s claims were barred by FINRA’s six-year statute of limitations. [#26-1]
Although Defendant represents in its Cross-Motion that the motion to dismiss argued
“that Plaintiff’s claims were time-barred under the relevant state statutes of limitations,
and that the Panel lacked jurisdiction to hear the claims under FINRA Rule 12206” [#23
at 3-4], the motion to dismiss does not reference state statutes of limitations but instead
relies exclusively upon FINRA Rule 12206. [#26-1 at 7]
Plaintiff responded to the
motion to dismiss advancing several arguments against dismissal, including the fact that
the motion to dismiss was filed after the deadline established by FINRA’s Code of
Arbitration Procedure. [#26-3]
The Panel initially scheduled an evidentiary hearing for December 13-15, 2016.
[#23 at 4] On December 3, 2016, Defendant’s counsel, John Gibson, swore an affidavit
saying that he had been experiencing a condition known as Spinal Stenosis and that he
had been scheduled for emergency surgery on December 6, 2016. [#8-2, ¶¶ 5, 7] Mr.
Gibson’s affidavit stated that, in the best case scenario, he could “return to light work as
early as January and may be able to travel towards the end of February or March.” [Id.
at ¶ 11] On December 15, 2016, the Panel continued the evidentiary hearing and
rescheduled it for March 14-17, 2017, in Salt Lake City, Utah. [#8-3 at 2; #23 at 4]
Mr. Gibson underwent heart surgery on December 19, 2016, and underwent
spinal surgery on December 26, 2016. [#23 at 4] A January 12, 2017 letter from Mr.
Gibson’s doctor stated that Mr. Gibson was “making appropriate progress and [was]
recovering as expected.” [#8-2 at 1] The letter further stated as follows:
It has come to my attention that Mr. Gibson had professional obligations
that were scheduled during this time. Again, it should be stressed the
patient had profound spinal cord compression causing myelopathy and
was at very high risk for permanent spinal cord injury that could have
resulted in permanent paraplegia. Under my direction, he was informed to
cease performing his typical professional duties until we were able to
properly decompress and stabilize his cervical spine.
[Id.] The January 12 letter made no mention of future professional or travel restrictions.
In early March, approximately one week before the rescheduled evidentiary
hearing, Mr. Gibson withdrew as counsel. [#23 at 4-5; #25 at 9-10] According to
Defendant, Mr. Gibson withdrew because he was “[m]edically unfit to travel out of
Oklahoma.” [#23 at 4] Following Mr. Gibson’s withdrawal, Defendant submitted several
motions requesting a postponement of the evidentiary hearing or a change of venue to
Oklahoma City. [#23 at 5; #25 at 9-10; #8-8; #8-11] In support thereof, Defendant
attached both Mr. Gibson’s December 3 affidavit and the January 12 doctor’s letter.
[#8-8 at 3; #25 at 10; #36 at 16] Defendant also claims that, on January 26, 2017, Mr.
Gibson testified in “Beres v. Wilbanks Securities, Inc., the sister arbitration companion
case” about his health condition. 1 [#36 at 17] The Panel denied Defendant’s request
for a continuance or transfer of the proceedings to Oklahoma City. [#23 at 5; # 25 at 10]
Although Defendant contends that Mr. Gibson “has provided a sworn declaration as to
what testimony was provided to the Beres panel” [#36 at 17], the only declaration from
Mr. Gibson attached to Docket Number 8—the citation provided by Defendant—is the
The final evidentiary hearing was held between March 14 and March 16, 2017.
[Id.] On April 13, 2017, the Panel issued its decision. [#1-2] The Panel found that
Defendant’s conduct “which is the subject of the arbitration continued from 2008 to
within six years of the date of [Plaintiff’s] filing of the Statement of Claim,” and therefore
denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss.
[Id. at 3]
The Panel awarded Plaintiff
compensatory damages of $536,720 and punitive damages of $536,720 (collectively,
the “Award”). [Id.] The decision does not give a written explanation for the punitive
damages portion of the Award. [Id.]
On April 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed her Petition in this Court. [#1] On April 20, 2017,
Defendant filed an Emergency Motion to Stay Arbitration Award and Motion to Vacate
Arbitration Award (the “Emergency Motion”). [#8] On April 21, 2017, this Court held a
hearing on the Emergency Motion and declined to make a ruling on the Emergency
Motion but granted Defendant leave to file supplementation. [#12] On July 20, 2017,
Defendant filed the Cross-Motion [#23], which mooted the Emergency Motion [#24]. On
August 2, 2017, Plaintiff responded to the Cross-Motion [#25], and Defendant replied on
September 15, 2017 [#36].
December 3, 2016 affidavit. [#8-2; #8-4] A review of the docket for Beres v. Wilbanks
Securities, Inc., No. 17-cv-1024-KLM (D. Colo. 2017), reveals that the arbitration panel
in Beres directed Mr. Gibson to participate in a January 24, 2017 telephonic pre-hearing
conference “in order that the Panel can be updated on his medical condition in
connection with scheduling any pre-hearing conference or evidentiary hearing.” Beres,
Dkt. No. 16-2, filed June 23, 2017. Defendant contends that “the Chief Panelist served
on both the Huitt and Beres panel[s].” [#36 at 17] Although a Declaration from Mr.
Gibson, dated June 9, 2017, was filed in Beres, the Declaration does not describe the
information he provided to the Beres arbitration panel regarding his health. Beres, Dkt.
No. 13-1, filed June 9, 2017. With regard to the January 24, 2017 pre-hearing
conference, the Declaration merely states: “I was ordered by the arbitration panel to
participate in a telephonic conference call on January 24, 2017. I did so despite being
on heavy mediation.” Id. at ¶ 7.
Courts must “exercise caution in setting aside arbitration awards because one
purpose behind arbitration agreements is to avoid the expense and delay of court
Bowen v. Amoco Pipeline Co., 254 F.3d 925, 932 (10th Cir. 2001)
(quotation omitted). As a result, “[t]he standard of review of arbitral awards is among
the narrowest in the law.” Richardson v. Citigroup, Inc., No. 12-cv-0485-WJM-KMT,
2014 WL 3892967, at *1 (D. Colo. Aug. 8, 2014) (citing Litvak Packing Co. v. United
Food & Commercial Workers, Local Union No. 7, 886 F.2d 275, 276 (10th Cir. 1989)).
Indeed, “[o]nce an arbitration award is entered, the finality of arbitration weighs heavily
in its favor and cannot be upset except under exceptional circumstances.” Ormsbee
Dev. Co. v. Grace, 668 F.2d 1140, 1146-47 (10th Cir. 1982). Accordingly, a party
attacking the legality of an arbitration award has the “heavy burden” of sustaining the
attack. Amicorp Inc. v. Gen. Steel Domestic Sales, LLC, No. 07-cv-01105-LTB-BNB,
2007 WL 2890089, at *2, 5 (D. Colo. Sept. 27, 2007).
Defendant’s Cross-Motion advances three arguments for vacating the Award.
Defendant’s Reply advances a fourth argument.
[#36 at 1-7]
addresses each below.
A. The Panel’s refusal to grant a second continuance
The Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) authorizes a district court to vacate an award
“where the arbitrators were guilty of misconduct in refusing to postpone the hearing,
upon sufficient cause shown.”
9 U.S.C. § 10(a)(3).
Nonetheless, “[b]ecause the
primary purpose for the federal policy of favoring arbitration is to promote the
expeditious resolution of disputes, a court’s review of the arbitrator’s decision to
postpone or not postpone the hearing is quite limited.” ARW Expl. Corp. v. Aguirre, 45
F.3d 1455, 1464 (10th Cir. 1995). Indeed, courts have held that “[a]n arbitrator’s refusal
to grant a postponement is not grounds to vacate an arbitration award if there is any
reasonable basis for the arbitrator’s considered decision not to grant a postponement.”
Healthcare Workers’ Union Local 250 v. Am. Med. Response, No. CV F 05-1333 AWI
DLB, 2006 WL 2949262, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Oct. 16, 2006); see also Fairfield & Co. v.
Richmond F. & P. R.R. Co., 516 F. Supp. 1305, 1313–14 (D.D.C.1981) (“[A]ssuming
there exists a reasonable basis for the arbitrators' considered decision not to grant a
postponement, the Court will be reluctant to interfere with the award on these
grounds.”), cited with approval in ARW Expl. Corp., 45 F.3d at 1464.
Here, the Court finds ample reasons to support the Panel’s decision not to
continue the hearing for a second time, and therefore finds that the Panel was not guilty
of misconduct in refusing to postpone the March evidentiary hearing.
above, the Panel initially scheduled an evidentiary hearing for December 13-15, 2016.
[#23 at 4] Based upon Mr. Gibson’s sudden medical condition, the Panel agreed to
continue the hearing until March 14-17, 2017. [#8-3 at 2]
This continuance gave
Defendant three months to obtain new counsel and have new counsel prepare for the
Instead, Defendant did not obtain new counsel. Defendant contends that it “had
hoped that its attorney would heal and be able to attend the hearings.” [#36 at 18] But,
according to pleadings filed in the underlying arbitration, Defendant had doubts that this
For example, in Defendant’s March 2, 2017 motion to continue the
evidentiary hearing, Defendant represented that it told the Panel in December 2016 that
Mr. Gibson would need “three months to heal plus at least some very thin margin of
time for error.” [#8-8 at 4] Moreover, Defendant asserts in its Reply that counsel knew
in January 2017 “that he could not travel and would be heavily medicated until March at
which time he would be weaned from the medication.” [#36 at 18 (quotation omitted)]
Yet, Defendant failed to take any precautions in the event that its counsel would
not be ready for the hearings. There is no indication that Defendant sought to obtain
new counsel who could participate in the hearing. Nor did Defendant promptly move to
continue the hearing upon learning in January 2017 that Mr. Gibson would remain
heavily medicated through March. Instead, Defendant waited until less than two weeks
before the hearing to move to continue the hearing [#8-8; #8-11], and Mr. Gibson waited
until six days before the hearing to withdraw as counsel [#23 at 4-5]. The Panel could
have reasonably concluded that Defendant’s failure to obtain new counsel during the
three month continuance period justified the denial of any further continuances. 2 See
Martik Bros., Inc. v. Kiebler Slippery Rock, LLC, No. 08cv1756, 2009 WL 1065893, at *3
(W.D. Pa. Apr. 20, 2009) (finding no abuse of discretion where arbitration panel denied
continuance request based upon notification of counsel’s withdrawal the day before the
hearing was to commence); Painewebber, Inc. v. Barca, Nos. C 00-00544 CRB, C 002
As explained above, Defendant has the “heavy burden” of demonstrating that the
arbitration award should be vacated. Amicorp Inc. 2007 WL 2890089, at *4.
Defendant, however, has not provided the Court with the Panel’s rationale for denying
the continuance or indicated that the Panel failed to give a rationale for its decision to
deny the continuance. Although the Panel was not required to articulate its reasons for
the decision, the lack of information concerning the basis for the Panel’s decision makes
it even harder for this Court to find that the Panel abused its discretion. See El Dorado
Sch. Dist. No. 15 v. Cont'l Cas. Co., 247 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2001) (holding that
arbitrator’s failure to specify reasons for the denial of a continuance did not evidence
00898 CRB, 2000 WL 1071836, at *3 (N.D. Cal. July 28, 2000) (refusing to vacate
arbitral decision where arbitration panel denied continuance for defendants to obtain
counsel when defendants received notice of the hearing two months earlier yet
neglected to hire an attorney, prepare for the hearing, or request a continuance until a
week before the hearing).
Moreover, the affidavit and doctor’s letter submitted in support of the continuance
supported only a continuance of the December hearing, not the March hearing. 3 [#8-2]
Mr. Gibson’s affidavit stated that he may be able to “return to light work as early as
January and may be able to travel towards the end of February or March.” [Id. at ¶ 11]
The doctor’s letter stated that Mr. Gibson was “making appropriate progress and [was]
recovering as expected.” [#8-2 at 1] While that letter explained that Mr. Gibson could
not perform his professional duties during the time period of his surgeries, it makes no
mention of continued restrictions.
Thus, the Panel could have reasonably
concluded that Defendant failed to offer sufficient support for its requested continuance.
See ARW Expl. Corp., 45 F.3d at 1464 (finding arbitrator “well within his discretion” in
denying continuance where defendants failed to show sufficient cause for the
continuance). Accordingly, because there are multiple reasons why the Panel could
have rejected Defendant’s continuance requests, the Court finds that the Panel did not
engage in misconduct when it refused to continue the March hearing.
Again, it is not clear from the record what Mr. Gibson told the Beres Panel about his
health status at the January 24 conference. Moreover, that conference occurred nearly
two months before the evidentiary hearing and it does not appear that Defendant made
any effort during that time period to secure new counsel.
B. The Panel’s conclusion that the conduct occurred within six years of the
filing of the Claim and that the Claim was therefore timely under FINRA
Defendant next argues that the Panel exceeded its powers by hearing and ruling
on claims that were beyond the Panel’s jurisdiction under FINRA rules. [#23 at 7-9]
FINRA Rule 12206(a) provides that “[n]o claim shall be eligible for submission to
arbitration under the Code where six years have elapsed from the occurrence or event
giving rise to the claim.”
Defendant contends that because Plaintiff purchased the
Annuity on September 23, 2008, she needed to bring her action by September 22,
2014. [#23 at 8] According to Defendant, Plaintiff’s failure to do so left the Panel
without jurisdiction to hear Plaintiff’s claims. [Id.] Specifically, Defendant maintains that
“[t]he Tenth Circuit has held that because [Rule 12206(a)] ‘defines the arbitrators’
substantive jurisdiction . . . the courts, not the arbitrators themselves, must decide
whether a claim is time-barred under [Rule 12206].’” [#23 at 8 (quoting Cogswell v.
Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc., 78 F.3d 474, 481 (10th Cir. 1996))]
Cogswell, however, was decided six years before Howsam v. Dean Witter
Reynolds, Inc., 537 U.S. 79 (2002). In Howsam, the Supreme Court reasoned that “the
NASD arbitrators, comparatively more expert about the meaning of their own rule, are
comparatively better able to interpret and to apply it.” 4 537 U.S. at 85. As a result, the
Court found “that the applicability of the NASD time limit rule is a matter presumptively
for the arbitrator, not for the judge.” Id. Thus, because it was for the Panel and not this
Court to decide whether Plaintiff’s claims fell within Rule 12206(a)’s six-year timeframe,
the Court rejects Defendant’s invitation to second-guess the Panel’s interpretation of
NASD stands for the National Association of Securities Dealers. See McCune v. SEC,
672 Fed. App’x 865, 866 (10th Cir. 2016). FINRA succeeded NASD in 2007. See id.
FINRA Rule 12206(a). 5 See Mid-Ohio Sec. Corp. v. Estate of Burns, 790 F. Supp.2d
1263, 1271-72 (D. Nev. 2011) (“Because Rule 12206 is not a strict rule of eligibility, but
a question for the arbitrators more akin to a statute of limitations, the arbitrators were
free to interpret the rule as they saw fit, including adding in tolling provisions or a
C. The Panel’s failure to conclude that claims were time-barred under state
Next, Defendant argues that Plaintiff’s claims were barred by state statutes of
limitations. 6 Defendant argues that “the Panel acted in manifest disregard of the law by
hearing, and ruling on, claims which were barred by state law under the relevant
statutes of limitations.” [#23 at 9] As a result, Defendant argues this Court should
vacate the Award. [Id.]
As an initial matter, it is not clear that the Court may overturn an arbitration award
based upon a “manifest disregard of the law.”
In Hall Street Associates, L.L.C. v.
Mattel, Inc., 552 U.S. 576, 584 (2008), the Supreme Court held that Sections 10 and 11
of the FAA provide the “exclusive grounds for expedited vacatur and modification” of an
arbitration award. Since Hall Street, the circuits have split on the issue of whether
manifest disregard remains a viable standard because an arbitrator who manifestly
disregards the law exceeds his powers under 9 U.S.C. § 10(a)(4). See Abbott v. Law
Defendant’s Reply fails to even address Howsam, and only makes passing reference
to Rule 12206(a)’s six-year timeframe. [#36 at 13] Instead, the Reply focuses on the
application of Oklahoma’s statute of limitations. [#36 at 6-16] The Court addresses that
In the Cross-Motion, Defendant argues that the claims are barred by both Oklahoma
law (the state referenced by the choice-of-law provision) and Colorado law (the state
where Plaintiff resided and the contract was entered into). [#23 at 9-15] In its Reply,
however, Defendant argues that Oklahoma law should apply. [#36 at 6-16]
Office of Patrick J. Mulligan, 440 Fed. App’x 612, 618 (10th Cir. 2011). The Tenth
Circuit has declined to decide the issue. See id. at 620; see also THI of N. M. at Vida
Encantada, LLC v. Lovato, 864 F.3d 1080, 1085 n.1 (10th Cir. 2017) (addressing the
manifest disregard exception, but noting that the “exception’s viability has been
uncertain  since the Supreme Court’s decision in Hall Street”).
determination of the viability of the manifest disregard exception is ultimately nonconsequential to the disposition of this case, the Court will assume without deciding that
the exception remains viable. See Hosier v. Citigroup Glob. Mkts., Inc., 835 F. Supp.2d
1098, 1102 (D. Colo. 2011).
misunderstanding with respect to the law.” ARW Expl. Corp., 45 F.3d at 1463 (internal
quotation omitted). Rather, manifest disregard requires a party to establish that the
arbitrator acted with “willful inattentiveness to the governing law.” Hollern v. Wachovia
Sec., Inc., 458 F.3d 1169, 1176 (10th Cir. 2006) (quotation omitted). In other words,
“the record must show the arbitrators knew the law and explicitly disregarded it.” Id.
Here, Defendant has made no such showing. As an initial matter, the Court
notes that, although Defendant argued that Plaintiff’s claims were barred by the
Oklahoma statutes of limitations in his Pre-Hearing Brief [#8-14], Defendant’s motion to
dismiss considered by the Panel focused exclusively on FINRA Rule 12206(a) and did
not mention either the Oklahoma or the Colorado statues of limitations [#26-1; #26-3]. It
thus is not clear that the issue was properly raised and briefed before the Panel.
Regardless, even if this issue were raised before the Panel, and even if the
Panel erroneously applied the applicable statutes of limitations, the Court would still not
vacate the Award based upon a manifest disregard of the law. The Tenth Circuit has
held that an incorrect application of a state’s statute of limitations does not rise to the
level of manifest disregard of the law. ARW Expl. Corp., 45 F.3d at 1463. Rather, such
mistakes are merely “erroneous interpretations or applications of law [that] will not be
disturbed.” Id.; see also Barton v. Horowitz, No. Civ. A. 97 N 1980, 2000 WL 35346163,
at *8 (D. Colo. Mar. 6, 2000) (holding that “[e]ven assuming [ ] the Arbitration Panel was
wrong in concluding that the statute of limitations, whether it be Colorado or California’s,
did not bar Horowitz’s claims, its conclusion cannot be characterized as willful
inattentiveness to governing law” (quotations omitted)). Accordingly, the Court will not
vacate the Award based upon any alleged error in applying the applicable state statutes
of limitations, whether they be Oklahoma’s or Colorado’s.
D. The Panel’s explanation for the punitive damages portion of the Award
In its Reply, Defendant argues for the first time that the Award should be vacated
because the “award did not contain a showing as to how the evidence justifies the
award, findings of fact or conclusions of law.” [#36 at 4] Defendant contends that this
violates 12 Okla. Stat. 1872 (A) & (E) (“Section 1872”). 7
By failing to raise this
argument in its Cross-Motion, however, Defendant has waived this argument.
Section 1872(A) provides that an arbitrator may award punitive damages “if such an
award is authorized by law in a civil action involving the same claim and the evidence
produced at the hearing justifies the award under the legal standards otherwise
applicable to the claim.” Section 1872(E) requires an arbitrator awarding punitive
damages to “specify in the award the basis in fact justifying and the basis in law
authorizing the award and state separately the amount of the punitive damages or other
White v. Chafin, 862 F.3d 1065, 1067 (10th Cir. 2017) (finding argument waived when
raised for first time in reply brief); Koskinas v. Colvin, 1:16-cv-01801-CBS, 2017 WL
2908261, at *4 n.3 (D. Colo. July 7, 2017) (refusing to consider arguments raised for the
first time in reply brief).
Even if the Court were to consider this argument, it does not provide sufficient
grounds for the Court to vacate the Award. The New Account Form containing the
arbitration provision specifically states that “[t]he arbitrators do not have to explain the
reason(s) for their award.” [#1-1] The Panel could have reasonably concluded that this
provision allowed the Panel to dispense with written findings of fact and conclusions of
law, especially since there is no indication that Defendant raised Section 1872 with the
Panel. In any event, the Panel’s failure to comply with Section 1872 is a mere error of
law which, as described above, is insufficient to vacate the Award. See Mantle v. Upper
Deck Co., 956 F. Supp. 719, 736 (N.D. Tex. 1997) (“To the extent the Tribunal failed to
meet the statutory requirements for assessing exemplary damages, however, it
committed a mere error of law, which is insufficient to warrant vacatur of the Award.”).
E. Fees and Costs
In the Petition, Plaintiff also asks for attorneys’ fees and costs [#1 at 3], but has
not cited to any statutory authority or contractual provision authorizing such a request
and the Panel denied Plaintiff’s request for attorney’s fees in the arbitration. [#1-2 at 3]
The Court therefore denies Plaintiff’s request for fees and costs. See Hypower, Inc. v.
Nat’l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa., No. 13-CV-2326-DDC-TJJ, 2015 WL
7451171, at *4 (D. Kan. Nov. 23, 2015) (finding that neither the FAA nor Kansas state
law nor the contract at issue authorized an award of attorney’s fees). 8
For the foregoing reasons, this Court ORDERS as follows:
1. Plaintiff’s Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award [#1] is GRANTED insofar as it
seeks confirmation of the Arbitration Award but DENIED insofar as it seeks an
award of attorneys’ fees and costs;
2. Defendant’s Opposition to Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award and CrossMotion to Vacate Arbitration Award [#23] is DENIED;
3. The Arbitration Award [#1-2] is CONFIRMED; and
4. The Clerk shall enter judgment in favor of Plaintiff and against Defendant as
set forth in the Arbitration Award.
DATED: October 19, 2017
BY THE COURT:
s/Scott T. Varholak
United States Magistrate Judge
At least one Court in this district has found that “[a]n award of fees incurred in
obtaining enforcement of an arbitration award is discretionary.” Amicorp Inc. v. Gen.
Steel Domestic Sales, LLC, No. CIV. 07-CV-01105-LTB, 2007 WL 2890089, at *6 (D.
Colo. Sept. 27, 2007), aff'd, 284 F. App'x 527 (10th Cir. 2008). The Tenth Circuit
authority relied upon for that proposition, however, limited its holding to actions “brought
by a union to enforce an arbitration award.” Fabricut, Inc. v. Tulsa Gen. Drivers,
Warehousemen & Helpers, Local 523, 597 F.2d 227, 230 (10th Cir. 1979) (cited in
United Steelworkers of Am., AFL-CIO-CLC v. Ideal Cement Co., Div. of Ideal Basic
Indus., 762 F.2d 837, 843 (10th Cir. 1985)). The Fabricut court, in turn, relied upon a
Fourth Circuit decision finding that the court’s authority to award attorney’s fees to the
union was derived, at least in part, from the Labor Relations Management Act. See
Local No. 149 v. Am. Brake Shoe Co., 298 F.2d 212, 216 (4th Cir. 1962). To the extent
the Court has the discretion to award attorney’s fees, the Court declines to award
attorney’s fees under the circumstances of this case where Defendant’s Cross-Motion,
although ultimately without merit, was neither clearly frivolous nor undertaken in bad
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