United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
RONNIE J. BATTLE
REINHART FOODSERVICE LOUISIANA, LLC et al
HORNSBY MAG. JUDGE
MEMORANDUM RULING & ORDER
E. WALTER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff Ronnie J. Battle's Motion to
Re-Open the Case and Vacate the Arbitration Award [Doc. #15].
Defendants Reinhart Foodservice Louisiana, L.L.C.
("Reinhart Louisiana") and Reyes Holdings, L.L.C.
("Reyes") (collectively, hereinafter,
"Defendants") oppose the motion [Doc. #19]. Because
Plaintiff failed to contemporaneously file a memorandum in
support of his motion, a later-filed Motion for Leave to File
a Memorandum in Support [Doc. #22] is also pending before the
Court. Said motion [Doc. #22] is GRANTED; Plaintiffs proposed
memorandum in support [Doc. #22-2] has been considered for
purposes of this ruling. For the reasons that follow,
Plaintiffs motion to vacate the arbitration award and reopen
this case [Doc. #15] is DENIED.
filed the instant suit on November 5, 2014, alleging unlawful
termination and failure to accommodate Plaintiffs alleged
disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act
("ADA") and Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law
("LEDL"). Defendants moved to compel arbitration,
and this Court found that the parties' dispute was
subject to a binding arbitration agreement and stayed this
case, on January 15, 2015, pending arbitration. [Doc. #14].
to the parties' arbitration agreement, "[c]laims
shall be resolved through binding arbitration to be
administered by JAMS, The Resolution Experts
("JAMS"), in accordance with its Employment
Arbitration Rules and Procedures ("Rules")
..." [Doc. #15-2, p. 2]. Pursuant to the agreement,
"[a] party wishing to make a claim must give written
notice to the other party within the statutory period
mandated by the applicable relevant federal, state, or local
law. The arbitrator shall dismiss as untimely any claim that
is submitted for arbitration after the expiration of any such
time period." [Doc. # 15-2, pp. 1-2]. The record
reflects that, on both January 20 and September 15, 2015,
Plaintiffs counsel emailed to Defendants' counsel a
"Notice of Claim: Arbitration Request"; however, no
claim was filed with JAMS until June 2016. Upon Plaintiffs
filing with JAMS, Defendants sought dismissal of Plaintiff s
claims via motion for summary judgment. On January 3, 2017,
an arbitrator granted Defendants' motion, finding that
Plaintiffs ADA and LEDL claims were not timely submitted for
arbitration. [Docs. ##15-3, 19-1]. On February 5, 2017,
Plaintiff filed the instant motion, seeking to vacate that
award, as "erroneous based upon the contract in this
matter." [Doc. #15, p. 1].
the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"), 9 U.S.C.
§§ 1 et seq., a district court may vacate
an arbitration award:
(1) where the award was procured by corruption, fraud, or
(2) where there was evident partiality or corruption in the
arbitrators, or either of them;
(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; or
(4) where the arbitrators exceeded their powers, or so
imperfectly executed them that a mutual, final, and definite
award upon the subject matter submitted was not made.
9 U.S.C. § 10(a). "Section 10 provides the
exclusive grounds for vacatur of an arbitration award."
Cooper v. WestEnd Capital Mgmt, L.L.C, 2 F.3d 534');">832 F.3d 534,
544 (5th Cir. 2016). "The burden of proof is on the
party seeking to vacate the award, and any doubts or
uncertainties must be resolved in favor of upholding
it." Id.; see also Brabham v. A.G. Edwards &
Sons Inc., 316 F.3d 377, 385 n. 9 (5th Cir. 2004).
Plaintiff falls far short of carrying his heavy burden and
indeed makes no attempt to identify which, if any, of the
above-cited, exclusive statutory grounds he relies upon in
requesting vacatur of the arbitration award. Instead,
Plaintiff frames the issue before this Court as "whether
[Plaintiff] was justified in only doing what the arbitration
contract requires to start arbitration or whether [Plaintiff]
may be forced to comply with additional conditions, not
contained in the [arbitration agreement], at the
[Defendants'] whim." [Doc. #22-2]. To the extent
that Plaintiff is challenging the arbitrator's award
under § 10(a)(4), the Supreme Court has made clear that
district courts' review of arbitrators' awards
"is limited to the 'sole question ... [of] whether
the arbitrator (even arguably) interpreted the parties'
contract.'"BNSF Railway Co. v. Alstom Transp.,
Inc., Ill. F.3d 785, 788 (5th Cir. 2015) (quoting
Oxford Health Plans LLC v. Sutter, 2064');">133 S.Ct. 2064,
2068 (2013)). Here, a review of the arbitrator's award
clearly indicates that she analyzed the text of the
arbitration agreement and reached a conclusion framed in
terms of the contract's meaning. Id.
Furthermore, it is well-established that the arbitrator, not
the court, should decide procedural questions, including
timeliness. See Robinson v. J & K Admin. Mgmt.
Servs., Inc., 817 F.3d 193, 195 (5th Cir. 2016);
Howsam v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 537 U.S. 79,
84 (2002). The arbitrator did not exceed her powers.
outlined above, "[u]nder the FAA, courts may vacate an
arbitrator's decision 'only in very unusual
circumstances.'" Oxford Health, 133 S.Ct.
at 2068 (quoting First Options of Chicago, Inc. v.
Kaplan,514 U.S. 938, 942 (1995)). Limited judicial
review "maintain[s] arbitration's essential virtue
of resolving disputes straightaway." Hall Street
Associates, L.L.C. v. Mattel, Inc.,2 U.S. 576');">552 U.S. 576, 588
(2008). If parties could take "full-bore legal and
evidentiary appeals, " arbitration would become
"merely a prelude to a more cumbersome and
time-consuming judicial review ...