April 24, 1995 Order was erroneous. The "intent" of this Court's Order is immaterial to jurisdiction. The parties, in the Master Agreement, established a zone of arbitrable issues in which this dispute lies. And, as IBT forcefully argues, the Arbitrator lacks the power to confer jurisdiction to resolve the merits of an arbitrable dispute on this Court. See IBT Mem. in Supp. of Confirm. of Arb. Award at 36. Therefore, once this Court completed the two-step arbitrability analysis and determined that this dispute was arbitrable, the only possible role left would be to compel arbitration or to perform the "normal court review" of an arbitration award.
IBT correctly recognizes that the Arbitrator erred in his understanding of this Court's jurisdiction, but IBT mistakenly brushes aside this error as mere immaterial dicta. Id. The Arbitrator's opinion, however, makes clear that one of the cornerstones of his decision was his mistaken belief that UPS had available an alternative forum in which to air the merits of its grievance. The effect of this mistake must be considered.
As a general rule, a mere mistake of fact provides an insufficient basis for vacating an arbitration award. See Local 2094, 996 F. Supp. at 65 (citing Kanuth v. Prescott, Ball & Turben, Inc., 292 U.S. App. D.C. 319, 949 F.2d 1175, 1178 (D.C. Cir. 1991)). However, where a material mistake of fact arises not from the record before the arbitrator but from his reliance on a non-existent fact that limits the scope of the arbitration, the award should not be enforced. See Northwest Airlines, Inc. v. Air Line Pilots Ass'n Int'l, 174 U.S. App. D.C. 196, 530 F.2d 1048, 1050 (D.C. Cir. 1976). In the district court in Northwest, Judge Flannery had found that the arbitrator mistakenly believed that the parties had entered into a stipulation that removed an issue from the arbitration. Judge Flannery nonetheless felt compelled to confirm the award. Without disturbing that finding, the Court of Appeals held that the mistake of fact underpinning the award rendered it unenforceable. Id.
This case is analogous in that it appears that the Arbitrator's decision not to reach the merits of the dispute rested, in part, on a mistaken belief that this Court could do so.
Other courts have suggested that an arbitration award also can be vacated if it rests on an undisputed and unambiguous mistake of fact. See Tanoma Mining Co. v. Local No. 1269, United Mine Workers of Am., 717 F. Supp. 357, 359-60 (W.D. Pa. 1989) (reviewing cases); cf. Livingston v. Woodworth, 56 U.S. 546, 558, 14 L. Ed. 809 (1853) (arbitrator's award is binding "unless it could be assailed for fraud, misbehavior, or gross mistake of fact); Valentine Sugars, Inc. v. Donau Corp., 981 F.2d 210, 214 (5th Cir. 1993) (award can be vacated for material mistake of fact under Federal Arbitration Act); National Post Office v. United States Postal Serv., 751 F.2d 834, 843 (6th Cir. 1985) (same).
Whether the mistake of fact in the instant case is sufficient to require vacating the Buccheit Award need not be reached at this point. Because the award was styled as an "interim" award and because the mistake of fact is material, the Buchheit Award will be neither confirmed nor vacated without further clarification. Instead, this dispute will be remanded to the Arbitrator to reconsider the October 1996 Opinion and Award in light of this Opinion and Order and to issue a final arbitration award. See Landy Michaels Realty Corp. v. Local 32 B-32J, Serv. Employees Int'l Union, 954 F.2d 794, 797 (2d Cir. 1992) (under FAA, limited authority may exist to remand "where the arbitration task has not been fully performed or where the uncertainty of an award requires clarification"); Sargent v. Paine Webber Jackson & Curtis, 280 U.S. App. D.C. 7, 882 F.2d 529, 533 (D.C. Cir. 1989) (efficiency concerns dictate that remand to arbitrator is generally disfavored unless the record reflects a basis to insist on an explanation); Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers v. Union Oil Co. of Cal., 818 F.2d 437, 442 (5th Cir. 1987) (courts have power to remand to arbitrator under Section 301 of LMRA); United Steelworkers of Am. v. Hempt Bros., 866 F. Supp. 164, 169 (M.D. Pa. 1994) (remanding to arbitrator for reconsideration).
It is regrettable that this dispute has bounced between decisionmakers without finding a final resolution. The delay appears to have resulted from the strategic behavior of each of the parties at various stages of this process, and from the fact that this Court's April 24, 1995 Order was not as crystalline as it might have been. But, in light of the jurisdictional rules governing arbitrability, and notwithstanding UPS's argument to the contrary, that Order is susceptible of only one coherent reading -- that this action could only be reopened to seek an order compelling arbitration or, possibly, to confirm or vacate an arbitration award. See UPS Opp'n to Confirm Arb. Award at 3.
To avoid any similar snafues, the Amended Complaint will be dismissed with prejudice. In Count I of the Amended Complaint, UPS seeks damages for breach of the Master Agreement. That claim was, and is, arbitrable under both prongs of the arbitrability analysis. Therefore, this Count must be dismissed in favor of arbitration. To this extent, IBT's motion is granted. Count II is a claim in the alternative that springs to life only if IBT is not a party to the Master Agreement. Because it is the law of this case that IBT is a party to the Master Agreement, and IBT is estopped from relitigating this issue in this case, Count II lacks a factual predicate and also must be dismissed. The Court does not reach the issue of whether this claim would be preempted under the Labor Management Relations Act. Therefore, IBT's motion is denied as moot in this respect.
The Court cannot deny IBT the opportunity to submit its so-called "non-party defense" before the Arbitrator, should he choose to entertain that issue. But, under the Master Agreement and the relevant law, the proper forum in which IBT could have raised this defense was this Court. Therefore, a finding in an arbitration award that determines the party status of IBT under the Master Agreement would be entitled to "no deference" from this Court. See KenAmerican, 99 F.3d at 1163.
As to IBT's motion to confirm the arbitration award, that is not properly before the Court at this time. This dispute must be remanded to the Arbitrator to reconsider the October 1996 Opinion and Award and to issue a final arbitration award. Once that is done, if either party seeks judicial confirmation or review of the award, it shall be done by filing a new action in this Court as a related case under Local Rule 405(a)(4).
Accordingly, for the reasons stated above and upon consideration of the entire record in this matter, it is hereby
ORDERED that IBT's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part as stated herein; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that UPS's Amended Complaint is DISMISSED with prejudice; this dispute is REMANDED to The Arbitrator (1) for reconsideration of the October 1996 Opinion and Award in this matter in light of this Opinion and Order; and (2) for issuance of a final arbitration award. And it is
FURTHER ORDERED that IBT's Motion to Confirm Arbitration Award is DENIED without prejudice; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that this Court's Order of July 8, 1997 [Dkt. No. 72] is vacated in part and modified to the limited extent set forth herein; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that if, after issuance of a final arbitration award in this matter, either IBT or UPS seeks to confirm or vacate that award, it shall be done by filing a new action in this Court as a case related to this civil action per Rule 405(a)(4) of the Rules of the United States District Court of the District of Columbia.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
March 26, 1998.
JOYCE HENS GREEN
United States District Judge
Pursuant to Rule 58, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and in accord with the Memorandum Opinion and Order issued this date, Judgment is hereby entered in favor of the Defendant. The Amended Complaint is DISMISSED with prejudice. This dispute is REMANDED to The Arbitrator for reconsideration of the October 1996 Opinion and Award in this matter in light of the Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order issued this date, and for issuance of a final arbitration award.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
March 26, 1998.
JOYCE HENS GREEN
United States District Judge