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SARGENT v. PAINE WEBBER

May 10, 1988

Ernest E. Sargent, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Paine Webber, Jackson & Curtis, Inc., et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: PARKER

 (Denying Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration)

 BARRINGTON D. PARKER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

 Defendants Paine Webber, Jackson and Curtis, Inc. have moved for reconsideration of this Court' s Memorandum Order of December 8, 1987, 674 F. Supp. 920 (D.C. Cir. 1987), which vacated the arbitral award of August 19, 1986, and remanded the matter to the New York Stock Exchange ("NYSE") Arbitration Panel. The Court's Memorandum Order directed that the arbitration panel provide a full explanation of the manner in which $ 46,000 damages awarded to plaintiffs were computed so as to permit effective judicial review. Defendants argue that the plaintiffs' motion to vacate the August 19th award was untimely and barred by the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"). 9 U.S.C. ยงยง 1-14. They also contend that this Court exceeded its authority in vacating and remanding the award.

 FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 The award in question here was rendered on August 19, 1986, but was not filed in the formal sense. Rather, it was sent by letter dated August 21, to plaintiffs' attorney, Marc White. It is not clear when Mr. White received the letter. Plaintiffs state however, and it is not disputed, that they did not receive a copy of the arbitral decision until August 27, 1986. On September 4, 1986, plaintiff Earnest Sargent and his attorney both wrote to the Director of Arbitration at the NYSE and requested a hearing de novo. The Director denied their requests in a letter dated September 23, 1986. Prior to receiving the Director's letter, on September 25, 1987, attorney White wrote to Mr. Sargent, informing him that he was "willing to go through another hearing at the [arbitration panel] if they grant our request." In the event that the request was denied, Mr. White indicated that he would possibly be "willing to file a motion to vacate" the $ 46,000 award for the plaintiffs. For reasons not reflected in the record and at a date uncertain, Mr. White later chose not to represent the plaintiff.

 As a result of attorney White's latent unwillingness to file an action to vacate the arbitration award, plaintiffs had less than two months to file such an action. On November 26, 1986, more than three months from the date of the award, but less than three months from plaintiffs' August 27, 1986 receipt of the decision, plaintiffs filed a pro se motion to vacate the arbitration panel's award.

 On December 8, 1987, this Court granted plaintiffs' motion and vacated the arbitral award of August 19, 1986. Because the award to plaintiffs represented less than 20 percent of the approximately $ 256,000 which they had lost during the period the defendants managed their investment accounts, the Court held that it could not clearly ascertain the basis for the award, nor could it be certain whether the arbitration panel considered all the relevant information. Given the uncertainty and ambiguity surrounding the award, the Court ordered that the matter be remanded to the arbitration panel for a full explanation of the manner in which damages were computed so as to permit effective judicial review. Defendants' cross-motion to confirm the award was denied.

 On December 17, 1987, defendants filed the present motion for reconsideration of the Court's Memorandum Order. The Sargents, now represented by counsel, opposed the defendants' motion.

 LEGAL ANALYSIS

 A.

 The Court will first address the defendants' challenge that the plaintiff's motion to vacate was time-barred by a three-month statute of limitation. Section 12 of the FAA provides in part:

 
Notice of a motion to vacate, modify, or correct an award must be served upon the adverse party or his attorney within three months ...

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