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LAPRADE v. KIDDER

February 29, 2000

LINDA E. LAPRADE, PLAINTIFF,
V.
KIDDER, PEABODY & CO., INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sullivan, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

I. Factual Background

Plaintiff Linda LaPrade filed suit against defendant Kidder Peabody alleging gender discrimination in employment. Per an earlier agreement between the parties, and upon defendant's motion, the court stayed LaPrade's civil action pending arbitration on June 24, 1992.*fn1 Arbitration hearings commenced in September 1993.

On October 8, 1999, after six years, the National Association of Securities Dealers ("NASD") Arbitration Panel ("the Panel") rendered its decision dismissing plaintiffs statutory discrimination claims, as well as her defamation claims, in their entirety. The Panel further ordered that defendant pay plaintiff $65,000 inclusive of interest, that plaintiff pay 12% of the NASD forum fees assessed, or $8,376, and that defendant pay 88% of the forum fees, or $61,424. Finally, the panel ordered that each party pay its own attorneys' fees and costs.

II. Procedure

On October 9, 1999, defendant filed a motion to lift the stay, to confirm the arbitration award, and to enter judgment. Plaintiff filed a cross motion to confirm and vacate different parts of the arbitration award, and to enter judgment, as well as a motion in opposition to defendant's motion to confirm the arbitration award. Plaintiffs cross motion opposes Kidder Peabody's motion only in so far as it seeks to confirm that part of the award that requires plaintiff to pay $8,376 in arbitration fees. Thereafter, replies were filed by the parties.

III. Discussion

A. Jurisdiction

A federal court may lift a stay of proceedings to confirm an arbitration award. See Kanuth v. Prescott, Ball & Turben, Inc., 949 F.2d 1175, 1178 (D.C. Cir. 1991) (district court lifted stay of diversity action to confirm arbitration award and order entry of judgment). Moreover, this Court stayed this case pending arbitration and retained jurisdiction for purposes of any appropriate proceedings upon completion of arbitration. See LaPrade v. Kidder, Peabody & Co., 146 F.3d 899, 903 (D.C. Cir. 1998), cert. den., 525 U.S. 1071, 119 S.Ct. 804, 142 L.Ed.2d 664 (1999) (holding that court that stays civil action pending arbitration retains jurisdiction to confirm arbitration award). Further, pursuant to the NASD Code of Arbitration Procedure § 10330(a), the parties in this case agreed that any arbitration award could be entered as a judgment in a court of competent jurisdiction. Thus, this Court properly retained jurisdiction.

B. Standard of Review for Arbitration Awards

Generally, public policy favors leaving arbitration awards untouched. See Wall Street Associates, L.P. v. Becker Paribas, Inc., 818 F. Supp. 679, 682 (S.D.N.Y. 1993) (citing Shearson/American Exp., Inc. v. McMahon, 482 U.S. 220, 226, 107 S.Ct. 2332, 96 L.Ed.2d 185 (1987)). In addition, a court must confirm an arbitration award where some colorable support for the award can be gleaned from the record. See Sargent v. Paine Webber Jackson & Curtis, Inc., 882 F.2d 529, 532 (D.C. Cir. 1989). Arbitration awards are subject to "very limited review" to avoid undermining the goals of arbitration, namely, settling disputes efficiently and avoiding lengthy and expensive litigation. Willemijn Houdstermaatschappij, BV v. Standard Microsystems Corp., 103 F.3d 9, 12 (2d Cir. 1997). Accordingly, reviewing courts have broad latitude to confirm arbitration awards.

Concomitantly, the grounds for disturbing arbitral awards are very narrow. The standard of review for arbitration awards is articulated in the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"). 9 U.S.C. § 1-14 (West 1990). Under the FAA, a court must grant a request for confirmation unless the award is "vacated, modified, or corrected." 9 U.S.C. § 9 ...


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