United States District Court, District of Columbia
RANDOLPH D. MOSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
denied Plaintiff National Resident Matching Program's
(“NRMP's”) motion to remand, Dkt. 7, the
Court turns to NRMP's motion to vacate the arbitration
award in favor of Defendant Mahmoud Alashry (“Dr.
Alashry”), Dkt. 10, and Dr. Alashry's cross-motion
to confirm, Dkt. 6. The present dispute presents a narrow
issue: Did the arbitrator exceed his authority under the
parties' agreement when he vacated the sanctions against
Dr. Alashry? The Court concludes that he did not, and will,
accordingly, deny NRMP's motion to vacate, Dkt. 10, and
grant Dr. Alashry's cross-motion to confirm, Dkt. 6.
the facts of this case are set forth in the Court's prior
opinion, see Nat'l Resident Matching Prog. v.
Alashry, No. 17-cv-2557, slip op. at 1-4 (D.D.C. Sept.
26, 2018) (“Alashry I”), the Court will
only briefly summarize the relevant background before turning
to the arbitrator's decision itself.
Alashry is a citizen of Egypt, where he earned his medical
degree. Id. at 1-2. In 2014, he began a
post-doctoral research fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in
Rochester, Minnesota. Id. at 2. NRMP is a non-profit
organization that provides a service by which it matches
medical school students and graduates with positions in
graduate medical residency and fellowship programs.
Id. at 1. From mid-January to late February of each
year, applicants submit their “rank order lists of
preferred programs” to NRMP, and “program
directors rank applicants in order of preference for
training.” Dkt. 10-2 at 40 (Arb. Award ¶ 23). NRMP
then “uses a computerized mathematical algorithm to
match applicants with programs using the preferences
expressed on their rank lists.” Id. (emphasis
September 2015, Dr. Alashry registered to participate in the
2016 Main Residency Match. Id. at 44 (Arb. Award
¶ 29). “By the February 24, 2016 deadline, Dr.
Alashry completed and submitted his . . . rank order list,
” and, in doing so, he “committed to accept an
appointment if a match resulted.” Id. at 45
(Arb. Award ¶ 32). On February 22, 2016-before his match
date-Dr. Alashry was arrested in Minnesota for solicitation
of prostitution, although he was not detained or charged at
that time. Id. (Arb. Award ¶ 33). Less than a
month later, on March 18, 2016, he matched to the internal
medicine residency program at North Florida Regional Medical
Center (“NFRMC”). Id. (Arb. Award ¶
34). Before he could matriculate, however, Dr. Alashry was
criminally charged with solicitation of prostitution on April
1, 2016. Id. (Arb. Award ¶ 35). Meanwhile,
NFRMC had forwarded an email to Dr. Alashry indicating that
he had not yet completed his application to obtain the
required J-1 training visa, and, on May 17, 2016, NFRMC sent
him a further email. Id. at 45-46 (Arb. Award
¶¶ 36, 38). On May 16, 2016, Dr. Alashry appeared
for his arraignment and, at that time, he learned that his
hearing on the criminal charges would not take place until
July 5, 2016, after the start of the residency program.
Id. at 46 (Arb. Award ¶ 37). Presumably left
without other options, Dr. Alashry disclosed “the
pending charges” to NFRMC on May 23, 2016. Id.
at 46 (Arb. Award ¶ 39). In completing “an [NFRMC]
Application Affirmation form” that same day, however,
Dr. Alashry responded “no” to the question
whether any criminal charges were pending against him.
Id. (Arb. Award ¶ 40).
learning of the criminal charge, NFRMC concluded that Dr.
Alashry would not be able to obtain a J-1 training visa
before his June 2016 start date, and it therefore sought a
waiver from NRMP of its match. Id. (Arb. Award
¶ 42). NRMP granted the waiver and, subsequently,
convened a review panel to investigate whether Dr.
Alashry's actions violated the agreement he signed with
NRMP (“Match Agreement”). Id. at 46-47
(Arb. Award ¶¶ 42, 44-45). The panel issued a
report (“Panel Report”) concluding that Dr.
Alashry's failure to promptly disclose his arrest and
criminal charge had violated the Match Agreement, and, the
panel imposed a series of sanctions against him. Id.
at 47 (Arb. Award ¶¶ 46-47). The sanctions included
(1) “notifying [NFRMC] of [his] violation and asking
that it become part of his permanent record;” (2) a
one-year bar “from accepting or starting a position in
any program sponsored by a Match-participating
institution;” (3) a two-year bar “from
participating in future NRMP matches;” and (4) a
two-year flag “as a Match violator in the NRMP's
Registration, Ranking, and Results . . . system.”
Id. (Arb. Award ¶ 47).
September 2016, Dr. Alashry initiated arbitration proceedings
to vacate the panel's findings of a violation and
imposition of sanctions. Id. at 37 (Arb. Award
¶ 7). The sole arbitrator, Elliot E. Polebaum, found in
Dr. Alashry's favor in most, although not all, respects.
See Id. at 59 (Arb. Award ¶¶ 89-94). After
considering the parties' evidence, witness testimony, and
post-trial briefing, the arbitrator issued a twenty-six-page
decision finding the sanctions against Dr. Alashry arbitrary
and capricious, and, accordingly, vacating them. Dkt. 10-2 at
36- 61 (Arb. Award). The present dispute concerns whether, in
doing so, the arbitrator exceeded the scope of his authority.
argued in its pre-arbitration hearing brief that Dr. Alashry
violated section 4.4 of the Match Agreement “in
multiple respects.” Id. at 49 (Arb. Award
¶ 52). First, “[NRMP] maintain[ed] that Dr.
Alashry failed to provide complete[, ] timely, and accurate
information during the match process . . . both after his
arrest on February 22, 2016, and again after his receipt of a
summons and complaint on April 1, 2016.” Id.
Second, “[NRMP] . . . contend[ed] that Dr.
Alashry's submission to NFRMC of his Applicant
Affirmation form, with a ‘no' answer to the
question whether there were any ‘criminal charges now
pending' against him independently violated [s]ection
4.4.” Id. (Arb. Award ¶ 54). Finally,
NRMP argued that “Dr. Alashry's conduct violated
[s]ection 1 of the Agreement which requires all participants
in the Main Residency Match [to] conduct their affairs in an
ethical manner.” Id. (Arb. Award ¶ 55)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
respect to the question of violation, the arbitrator
concluded that Dr. Alashry did violate section 4.4 of the
Match Agreement, but only to the extent that he
“delay[ed] until May 23 in disclosing the criminal
charge, ” even though he had received the summons and
complaint on April 1. Id. at 55 (Arb. Award ¶
77). The arbitrator disagreed with NRMP that Dr. Alashry had
a duty to disclose his arrest before he was charged, however,
because he found that “there was no guidance in the
NRMP application directing an applicant to disclose any
police detention that had not yet resulted in criminal
charges.” Id. at 52 (Arb. Award ¶ 66).
The arbitrator also concluded that Dr. Alashry did not
violate section 4.4 when he erroneously indicated there were
“no” pending criminal charges against him on the
Applicant Affirmation Form because “there is no doubt
that Dr. Alashry's May 23, 2016, email and his subsequent
phone call with . . . the NFRMC Program Director, made clear
that there were.” Id. at 56 (Arb. Award ¶
79). Finally, the arbitrator noted that Dr. Alashry's
alleged violation of section 1 was not subject to his review
because it was not included in the Panel Report. Id.
at 59 (Arb. Award ¶ 87). In conclusion, the arbitrator
concluded that, “[i]nsofar as NRMP's findings of
violations rested on the circumstances set forth . . . above,
they are in violation of the [Match] Agreement, and are
vacated.” Id. at 59 (Arb. Award ¶ 87).
respect to the sanctions, the arbitrator found that all four
measures were “arbitrary and capricious”:
The sanctions NRMP imposed were for Dr. Alashry's
[failure to notify NFRMC about his] “legal
issues.” There is no explication in the Review Panel
Report whether each claimed violation of Section 4.4
comprising the “legal issues” was necessary to
the overall level of sanctions imposed or whether the fact of
delay in disclosure after April 1 only, would have supported
the same or any sanctions. Given the lack of clarity in the
Review Panel Report, the testimony of NRMP witnesses in
conflict with the report, NRMP's failure to consider Dr.
Alashry's email and oral reports to Dr. Yale disclosing
his pending criminal charges, and my determination that the
violations found by NRMP are in important respects not
sustainable, the sanctions imposed are arbitrary and
capricious . . . .
Id. (Arb. Award ¶ 88). Accordingly, the Final
Award held that “[t]he sanctions determined in the
Review Panel Report for violations of [s]ection 4.4 of the
Agreement . . . are therefore vacated.” Id.
(Arb. Award ¶ 91).
with the result, NRMP filed a motion to vacate in the D.C.
Superior Court, alleging that the Match Agreement did not
permit an arbitrator to vacate its sanctions, Dkt. 10-1; Dkt.
10-2, and Dr. Alashry removed the case to this Court, Dkt. 1
at 4-7. The parties ...