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First, SCOTUSblog referenced “arbitration nation” last fall, which was flattering. Then last week the Ninth Circuit declared: “we have become an arbitration nation.” That was basically the title of my first post on this blog seven years ago! (“We are becoming an arbitration nation.”) I am going to turn up the Janet Jackson (“Rhythm Nation”) and feel smugly validated while I draft the rest of this post. Because there is more to talk about than just the catchy phrase spreading far and wide. Three federal circuits have vacated arbitration awards this month, giving new hope to parties who are trying to vacate awards and offering cautionary tales to arbitrators.
Aspic Eng’g & Constr. Co. v. ECC Centcom Constructors, 2019 WL 333339 (9th Cir. Jan. 28, 2019), dealt with a subcontractor constructing army facilities in Afghanistan. The subcontractor claimed it was owed significant funds after the project was terminated for convenience by the U.S. government. It proceeded to arbitration against the prime contractor, and an arbitrator awarded the subcontractor just over $1,000,000. The prime contractor petitioned to vacate the award.
Both the district court and Ninth Circuit found that the award should be vacated.Read original article