ST. GEORGE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT NO. 2
J. REED CONSTRUCTORS, INC.
Appeal from the 19th Judicial District Court Parish of East
Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana No. C655561 The Honorable
William A. Morvant, Judge Presiding
S. McLindon Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorney for
Defendant/Appellant, J. Reed Constructors, Inc.
D.H. Olinde, Jr. Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorney for
Plaintiff/Appellee, St. George Fire Protection District No. 2
BEFORE: GUIDRY, PETTIGREW, AND CRAIN, JJ.
Constructors, Inc., appeals a judgment confirming an
arbitration award in favor of St. George Fire Protection
District No. 2. We affirm.
and St. George entered two construction contracts that
subjected disputes between them to binding arbitration. A
dispute arose after J. Reed allegedly failed to substantially
complete the contracts on time. Specifically, J. Reed
contested St. George's assessment of liquidated damages
and claims for additional amounts for breach of warranty. The
matter was submitted to arbitration, and the arbitrator
awarded St. George $58, 865.00 for damages and fees.
George timely petitioned the trial court to confirm the
arbitration award, pointing out that the three-month period
for a party to request that the award be vacated, modified,
or corrected, had lapsed. J. Reed answered the petition and
opposed confirmation. J. Reed disagreed with, but did not
contest, the arbitrator's award of $17, 205.00 for
defective work and removal of a septic tank. Rather, J. Reed
objected to confirming $41, 660.00 for architect and attorney
fees. J. Reed claimed St. George neither sought nor pled
entitlement to those fees in any pleading, that those issues
were beyond the scope of what was submitted to the
arbitrator, and that the award of those amounts was illegal.
J. Reed acknowledged not filing a motion to modify the
arbitration award within three months pursuant to the
Louisiana Binding Arbitration Law, but argued "[w]hat
cannot be used as a sword can be used as a shield, " and
that it was not prohibited from raising its objection as an
affirmative defense in answer to the petition. St. George
responded, asserting the request for modification of the
arbitration award was untimely and should not be considered.
Alternatively, St. George argued that J. Reed's claims
should be denied.
trial court rejected J. Reed's arguments and confirmed
the arbitration award. J. Reed now appeals, contending the
trial court committed error in confirming the architect and
attorney fee awards.
matter of public policy, Louisiana strongly favors
arbitration; therefore, arbitration awards are presumed
valid. See La. R.S. 9:4201; National Tea Co. v.
Richmond, 548 So.2d 930, 932 (La. 1989); Duhon v.
Activeleaf, LLC, 16-0818 (La. 10/19/16), ___So. 3d___,
___(2016WL6123820). A court may vacate, modify, or correct an
arbitration award, but only for the exclusive grounds
specified in Louisiana Revised Statutes 9:4210 and 4211,
which notably do not include errors of fact or
Crescent Property Partners, LLC v. American Mfrs. Mut.
Ins. Co., 14-0969 (La. 1/28/15), 158 So.3d 798, 804.
Courts ordinarily do not sit in an appellate capacity over an
arbitration panel and are not entitled to substitute their
judgment for that of the arbitrators chosen by the parties.
Crescent Property Partners, LLC, 158 So.3d at 804.
Instead, the court's determination is limited to whether
the party attacking the award has proven one or more of the
specific statutory grounds for invalidation. Crescent
Property Partners, LLC, 158 So.3d at 804.
Revised Statute 9:4209 pertinently provides:
At any time within one year after the award is made any party
to the arbitration may apply to the court in and for the
parish within which the award was made for an order
confirming the award and thereupon the court shall grant such
an order unless the award is ...