The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sweet, District Judge.
Petitioners Griffin Industries, Inc. ("Griffin") and Ocean
Logistics Corp. ("OCL" and collectively, "Petitioners") have
moved to vacate, or in the alternative, to modify the arbitration
awards dated December 14, 1998 and December 22, 1998, pursuant to
the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 10, 11 (the "FAA").
Respondent Petrojam, Ltd. ("Petrojam") has cross moved to: (1)
confirm the arbitration awards pursuant to section 9 of the FAA,
9 U.S.C. § 9, and (2) to transfer this action to the United
States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).
For the reasons set forth below, Petrojam's motion to transfer
is denied, Petitioners' motion to vacate or modify the
arbitration awards is denied, and Petrojam's motion to confirm
the arbitration awards is granted.
Griffin is a United States corporation with an office and
principal place of business located at 4221 Alexandria Pike, Cold
Spring, Kentucky 41076.
OCL is a United States corporation with an office and principal
place of business located at Suite 301, 3636 South I-10 Service
Road West, Metarie, Louisiana 70001.
Petrojam is a Jamaican corporation with an office and principal
place of business located at 96 Marcus Garvey Drive, Kingston,
During early 1997, Petitioners and Petrojam entered into two
charter party agreements (the "Agreements"). The Agreements
contained identical arbitration clauses which provided for
arbitration of any disputes under the Agreements in the City of
New York (the "Arbitration Clause").
Disputes arose between Petitioners and Petrojam and the parties
agreed to resolve these disputes by consolidated arbitration in
the City of New York. Petitioners appointed their arbitrator from
the Roster of Members of the Society of Maritime Arbitrators,
Inc. ("SMA"), Petrojam appointed its arbitrator from the SMA, and
the two so selected chose a third arbitrator and procedural
chairman from the SMA. Petrojam submitted its initial
documentation to the arbitrators on or about September 25, 1997.
After several delays, Petitioners submitted their initial
submissions on January 23, 1998.
On April 20, 1998, as Petitioners had failed to timely submit
their response brief, Petrojam requested that the arbitrators
rule based on the documents submitted to date. The arbitrators
promptly sent a letter to Petitioners indicating that they were
prepared to rule:
We were expecting your response to the owner's
argument by April 10, 1998. Kindly advise the panel
of your status as we are prepared to act on the
information received to date. Your prompt cooperation
would be appreciated.
Petitioners subsequently submitted their reply brief. According
to Petrojam, Petitioners made no mention of or request for oral
hearings at this time.
On December 14 and 22, 1998, the arbitrators issued final
arbitration awards awarding Petrojam damages against the
Petitioners. On January 12, 1999, Petrojam filed a petition to
confirm the arbitration awards in the United States District for
the Southern District of Florida. See In the Matter of the
Arbitration Between Petro Jamaica and Griffin Industries, Inc.,
and Ocean Logistics Corp., Civ-Moreno, 99-0066. On March 9,
1999, Petitioners appeared and filed an answer in the
confirmation action in the Southern District of Florida.
On March 11, 1999, Petitioners filed the instant action to
vacate or modify the arbitration awards in the Southern District
of New York. On April 2, Petrojam filed its cross motion to
confirm the awards, and filed its motion to transfer this action
to the Southern District of Florida. Oral argument was heard on
April 21, 1999, at which time the motions were deemed fully
By order dated June 30, 1999, the Honorable Federico A. Moreno
granted Petitioners' motion to stay the action in the Southern
District of Florida pending this ...