The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sweet, District Judge.
Petitioners Griffin Industries, Inc. and Ocean Logistics
Corporation have moved, pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 6.3, for an order: (i)
vacating this Court's opinion dated July 21, 1999, and judgment
dated July 28, 1999, to the extent that the opinion and judgment
deny Petitioners' motion to vacate or modify the arbitral awards
dated December 14, 1998 and December 22, 1998 ("arbitral awards")
and grant Respondent Petrojam's cross-motion to confirm the
arbitral awards; (ii) granting Petitioners' motion to vacate or
modify the arbitral awards and denying Respondent's motion to
confirm the arbitral awards; and (iii) directing that hearings be
held before the arbitrators. For the reasons set forth below,
Petitioners' motion is denied.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
The factual background of this case has been set forth in a
prior opinion of this Court, familiarity with which is assumed.
See In re Arbitration between Griffin Industries, Inc. and
Petrojam, Ltd., 58 F. Supp.2d 212 (S.D.N.Y. 1999). Facts and
prior proceedings relevant to the instant motion are set forth
On September 11, 1997, Respondent wrote to the chairman of the
arbitration panel (the "Panel") hearing the dispute between
Petitioners and Respondent, requesting "an opportunity to
emphasize certain aspects of its claims via oral hearing." The
Panel responded by facsimile of September 15, 1997, stating that
a hearing would be scheduled after receipt of the parties'
supplementary submissions. On September 25, 1997, Respondent sent
its supplementary submissions to the Panel, enclosed within a
letter which asked again for the opportunity of an oral hearing,
and requested the opportunity to submit posthearing legal
memoranda. Several months later, after several apparent discovery
delays, Petitioners' supplemental documentation was received by
On February 5, 1998, Respondent proposed to the Panel a
timetable for presentation of written arguments in the dispute,
suggesting that Respondent submit its initial argument on March
20, 1998, that Petitioners answer by April 10, and that
Respondent reply by May 1. The proposal also advised that it "may
be possible to rest on the written submissions and avoid an oral
hearing." The Panel, not hearing any objection from Petitioners,
agreed to the proposed timetable.
Petitioners failed to timely submit their response brief by
April 10, at which point Respondent requested that the Panel rule
on the information then before it. The Panel declined to do so,
instead notifying Petitioners that it was "prepared to act on the
information received to date" and that their "prompt cooperation
would be appreciated." Petitioners' Brief was received by the
Panel on or around April 22, 1998.
On May 8, 1998, Petitioners wrote to Respondent, suggesting
that the parties stipulate to certain facts, but that other facts
were in dispute. Petitioners did not send a copy of this
correspondence to the Panel.
On October 9, 1998, Respondent wrote to the Panel inquiring "as
to the status of the panel's deliberations," and the "relative
timing of the panel's ruling." On October 20, 1998, Petitioners
wrote to the Panel in response, alleging that "there is
significant dispute as to alleged facts, expenses and information
which has not been furnished, and is not in the record. This
matter does not appear to be in a proper posture for ruling, and
we would suggest discussion should be directed to hearings. . .
." Petitioners added that they "did not wish to appear to
acquiesce to possible ruling at this stage, until the panel and
counsel have had benefit of all available facts."
On December 14 and 22, 1998, the Panel issued the final
On February 12, 1999, Petitioners wrote to the Panel,
complaining that the Panel had ruled without holding a hearing —
despite Petitioners' letter of October 20, 1998 — and requesting
that the Panel "reopen" the proceedings. On February 17, 1999,
the chairman of the Panel replied to Petitioners that he "never
received the faxes of October 9 and 20." The chairman also noted
that follow-up hard copies were not received, nor were copies
sent to the two other arbitrators on the Panel. Finally, the
chairman stated that the Panel was "functus officio and by its
own power . . . unable to reopen the record or modify the
On March 11, 1999, Petitioners moved this court to vacate or
modify the arbitration awards. Respondent, which had previously
filed a petition in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of Florida to confirm the arbitration awards,
cross-moved to confirm the awards or to transfer the action to
the Southern District of Florida.
By this Court's order of July 21, 1999, Petitioners' motion to
vacate or modify the arbitration awards was denied, Respondent's
motion to transfer was denied and Respondent's motion to confirm
the arbitration awards was granted.
Petitioners filed the instant motion on August 12, 1999.
Opposition and reply papers were received through August 27,
1999, at which time ...