Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation

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After ENPH filed under a power purchase agreement (PPA) for arbitration by the ICC, the ICC issued an award in ENPH's favor. Nigeria now appeals from the order granting enforcement of the Award. The court rejected Nigeria's contention that enforcement of the Award violates the public policy of the United States not to reward a party for fraudulent and criminal conduct pursuant to Article V(2)(b) of The Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (known as the “New York Convention”), 21 U.S.T. 2517. The court rejected Nigeria's contention, concluding that the ICC’s findings, to which an enforcing court owes substantial deference, doom Nigeria’s public policy defense in the absence of evidence or equities warranting the piercing of Enron’s corporate veil. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Enron Nigeria Power Holding, Ltd. v. Federal Republic of Nigeria" on Justia Law

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Diag Human appealed the district court's dismissal, sua sponte, of its claim for enforcement of a foreign arbitral award for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court found for Diag Human on both of the contested Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(6), issues here: Diag Human and the Czech Republic shared a legal relationship, and their arbitration “may” be governed by the New York Convention. Therefore, the Czech Republic is not entitled to sovereign immunity in this matter under the FSIA’s arbitration exception. Here, Diag Human’s relationship with the Czech Republic qualifies as a commercial legal relationship, and the arbitration at issue here arises out of that commercial legal relationship. Because a legal basis exists for federal courts to enforce this arbitration award, the court concluded that subject matter jurisdiction exists. Whether the arbitration award is final will be a question going to the merits of the case, as it could determine whether the arbitration award can be enforced or not. The court expresses no view on the matter. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Diag Human S.E. v. Czech Republic - Ministry of Health" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from a dispute between Ecuador and Chevron involving a series of lawsuits related to an investment and development agreement. On appeal, Ecuador challenged the district court's confirmation of an international arbitral award to Chevron. In this case, the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) includes a standing offer to all potential U.S. investors to arbitrate investment disputes, which Chevron accepted in the manner required by the treaty. Therefore, the court concluded that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1604, allows federal courts to exercise jurisdiction over Ecuador in order to consider an action to confirm or enforce the award. The dispute over whether the lawsuits were “investments” for purposes of the treaty is properly considered as part of review under the Convention on the Recognition of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention), 9 U.S.C. 201-208. The court further concluded that, even if it were to conclude that the FSIA required a de novo determination of arbitrability, the court still would find that the district court had jurisdiction where Ecuador failed to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that Chevron's suits were not "investments" within the meaning of the BIT. Likewise, the court rejected Ecuador's arguments against confirmation of the award under the New York Convention as meritless. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Chevron Corp. v. The Republic of Ecuador" on Justia Law

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BSDL petitioned the district court to confirm an arbitration award rendered against the government of Belize. The district court entered judgment in favor of BSDL. The arbitration award arises out of the alleged breach by Belize of a 2005 agreement between Belize and Belize Telemedia Limited, BSDL’s predecessor in interest. The court concluded that the language of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(6), arbitration exception makes clear that the agreement to arbitrate is severable from the underlying contract. In order to succeed in its claim that there was no “agreement made by the foreign state . . . to submit to arbitration,” Belize must show that the Prime Minister lacked authority to enter into the arbitration agreement. Belize has failed to do this and therefore, Belize failed to carry its burden of establishing that BSDL’s allegations do not bring this case within the FSIA’s arbitration exception. The court rejected Belize's remaining arguments and affirmed the judgment. View "Belize Social Dev. Ltd. v. Government of Belize" on Justia Law

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After the Company prevailed in a 2000 arbitration in France against the Congo, the Company sought to collect the arbitral award with little success. The Company obtained a judgment in 2009 from a court in England enforcing the arbitral award. The Company then sued in the United States to enforce the foreign judgment under state law. The court held that the limitations period in the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 207, does not preempt the longer limitations period in the D.C. Recognition Act, D.C. 15-639, and the court reversed the dismissal of the complaint. The court remanded the case for the district court to determine whether the English Judgment is enforceable under the D.C. Recognition Act. View "Commissions Import Export S.A. v. Republic of the Congo, et al." on Justia Law

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Petitioners, Broadcasting Board of Governors, sought review of the Board's decision to uphold an arbitrator's finding that the petitioner violated both a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and federal labor laws when it laid off sixteen employees. The court dismissed the petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because Congress has barred the courts from hearing challenges to FLRA orders that involve an award by an arbitrator, unless the order involves an unfair labor practice, and there was no unfair labor practice in this case. View "Broadcasting Board of Governors of Cuba v. FLRA" on Justia Law

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The Union filed suit against WUSA-TV, a television station, alleging that the station breached its contractual obligations by laying off a technician. Because the grievance did not "arise under" the 2008 bargaining agreement, and the 2012 agreement was not yet in effect, the district court concluded that the station was not obligated to arbitrate. The court affirmed, concluding that seniority provisions in the 2008 agreement did not create vested or accrued rights and therefore, the grievance was not arbitrable under the 2008 agreement. Nor do the qualified seniority protections against layoffs contained in the 2008 agreement survive expiration under normal principles of contract interpretation. Moreover, the union's extrinsic evidence was itself ambiguous. Finally, the court rejected the Union's claim that the grievance was arbitrable under the 2012 agreement. View "Int'l Brotherhood of Electrical Workers v. Detroit Free Press, Inc." on Justia Law

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In two unconsolidated cases, UBCJA and SWRCC (collectively, Carpenters) appealed the district court's confirmation of two arbitration awards in favor of Plasterers. The court concluded that these cases were not moot because future arbitrable jurisdictional disputes raising the same legal issue seem reasonably likely to occur; in Case No. 11-7161, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying briefing and argument on the timing issue; in Case No. 11-7155, the district court correctly declined to give Jordan Interiors I estoppel effect in Frye; and, on the merits, the court rejected Carpenters' challenges to the arbitrators' authority to enter their respective awards. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grants of summary judgment to the Plasterers, thereby confirming the arbitrators' awards in their favor. View "United Brotherhood of Carpenters v. Operative Plasterers' & Cement Masons' Int'l Ass'n" on Justia Law

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GSS Group brought this action to confirm a foreign arbitration award against the Port Authority of Liberia. The district court dismissed the petition for lack of personal jurisdiction after concluding that the Port Authority did not have sufficient contacts with the United States. The court concluded that the Port Authority claimed to be an independent juridical entity in its motion to dismiss, and GSS Group failed to contest that characterization. GSS Group's omission left in tact the Bancec presumption, First National City Bank v. Banco Para el Comercio Exterior de Cuba, which, under TMR Energy v. State Property Fund of Ukraine, guaranteed the Port Authority treatment as a separate "person" entitled to due process protection. That protection included the right to assert a minimum contacts defense. GSS Group had not identified any connection between the Port Authority and the United States and conceded that none existed. Therefore, the district court correctly dismissed the petition for lack of personal jurisdiction. View "GSS Group Ltd v. National Port Authority" on Justia Law

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PTO sought review of a decision of the FLRA upholding an arbitrator's award in favor of the Union. The arbitrator concluded that PTO committed an unfair labor practice in violation of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, 5 U.S.C. 7116(a)(1) and (5), when it repudiated a provision in an agreement requiring that it make an annual request of the OPM to increase PTO's special schedule pay rates and, if OPM refused, to discuss "substantially equivalent alternatives" with POPA. PTO challenged the FLRA's determination that the provision constituted an "appropriate arrangement" under 5 U.S.C. 7106(b)(3). The court granted PTO's petition on the ground that, under the collateral estoppel doctrine, the FLRA was bound by its earlier decision concluding the provision did not constitute an appropriate arrangement. View "U.S. Dept. of Commerce v. FLRA" on Justia Law