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IN RE BAIRD

July 31, 1996

In the Matter of the Arbitration Between: ELIZABETH HARRIS BAIRD, Petitioner, and TUCKER ANTHONY & R.L. DAY, INC., THOMAS A. PASQUALE, Respondents.

JUNE L. GREEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREEN

I. Introduction

 This matter is before the Court on the Application and Motion for Order Confirming Arbitral Award and Entry of Judgment Thereon ("Application") of Claimant-Petitioner Elizabeth Harris Baird ("Petitioner"), and the Cross-Motion to Vacate and Opposition to Claimant-Petitioner's Motion to Confirm Arbitration Award ("Opposition") of Respondents Tucker Anthony R.L. Day, Inc., and Thomas A. Pasquale ("Respondents").

 II. Background

 Petitioner is a former employee of Respondent Tucker Anthony, which is a member of the New York Stock Exchange ("NYSE"). Respondents employed Petitioner as a registered representative from January 1987 to October 1989. Petitioner filed a claim with the NYSE on or about October 20, 1993, in regard to an employment dispute between herself and Respondents. The arbitration was conducted pursuant to the Rules of the NYSE, to which all parties were bound. The arbitration took place on five days between February 1995, and March 1996, and produced a transcript of 1,286 pages.

 The written award consists of a single page form produced by the NYSE, stating: "Case Summary: Registered Representative v. Member Firm -- claimant alleges false and defamatory accusation of misappropriation of firm profits while employed as a municipal bond trader resulting in claimant's inability to find employment in the securities industry." (Award.) The award reads (in full):

 
The undersigned arbitrators have decided and determined in full and final settlement of all claims between the parties that: the respondent Tucker Anthony & R.L. Day Inc. shall pay to the claimant the sum of $ 251,000 which represents $ 250,000 as an award on the claim and $ 1000 as a refund of claimant's deposit of costs; that the respondent Thomas A. Pasquale shall pay to the claimant the sum of $ 10,000; that the claim of the claimant against Michael L. Michael be and hereby is dismissed in all respects; that the costs of this proceeding $ 20,000 are assessed against respondent Tucker Anthony & R.L. Day Inc.

 (Id.) The award is signed by all three arbitrators, and is accompanied by a certified and notarized affidavit of Mr. Robert S. Clemente, the Arbitration Director for the NYSE.

 Respondents ask that the award be vacated on the theory that the arbitrators acted in manifest disregard of the law by allegedly: (1) failing to find that truth is an absolute defense to the defamation charge; (2) ignoring New York law granting a qualified privilege (which can only be overcome by a showing of malice) to statements between entities with a common interest; (3) ignoring New York law which grants an absolute privilege to the NYSE document containing the allegedly defamatory remarks; and, (4) ignoring that Petitioner's claims of malicious prosecution and prima facie tort were barred by the purported privilege.

 III. Discussion

 Confirmation of arbitral awards is governed by the Federal Arbitration Act ("the Act"). 9 U.S.C. §§ 1-14 (West 1990). Under the Act, the Court must grant a request for confirmation unless the award is "vacated, modified, or corrected." Id. at § 9. If the parties to an arbitration agreement do not specify a particular court, then an application for confirmation and entry of judgment on the award "may be made to the United States court in and for the district within which such award was made." Id. Rule 627 of the NYSE Rules of Board provides that "awards may be entered as a judgment in any court of competent jurisdiction." The arbitration in this case took place in the District of Columbia. Thus, the petition is properly before this Court.

 
The Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"), 9 U.S.C. § 10 (1994), empowers a federal court to vacate an arbitration award only
 
(1) Where the award was procured by corruption, fraud, or undue means.
 
(2) Where there was evident partiality or corruption in the arbitrators, ...

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