United States District Court, Southern District of New York
May 12, 2003
BANCO DE SEGUROS DEL ESTADO, PETITIONER, AGAINST MUTUAL MARINE OFFICES, INC., RESPONDENT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shira A. Scheindlin, United States District Judge
OPINION AND ORDER
On April 3, 2003, this Court issued an opinion and order (the "Confirmation Order") confirming a final arbitration award in this dispute between Banco de Seguros del Estado ("Banco") and Mutual Marine Offices, Inc. ("MMO").*fn1
Banco moves for reconsideration of the Confirmation Order. For the reasons stated below, the motion for reconsideration is denied.
I. LEGAL STANDARD
A motion for reconsideration is governed by Local Rule 6.3 and is appropriate where a court overlooks "controlling decisions or factual matters that were put before it on the underlying motion . . . and which, had they been considered, might have reasonably altered the result before the court." Range Rd. Music, Inc. v. Music Sales Corp., 90 F. Supp.2d 390, 392 (S.D.N.Y. 2000) (quotation marks and citation omitted); see also Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995) ("The standard for granting . . . a motion [for reconsideration] is strict, and reconsideration will generally be denied unless the moving party can point to controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked — matters, in other words, that might reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court."). Alternatively, a motion for reconsideration may be granted to "correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice." Griffin Indus., Inc. v. Petrojam, Ltd., 72 F. Supp.2d 365, 368 (S.D.N.Y. 1999). Local Rule 6.3 should be "narrowly construed and strictly applied so as to avoid repetitive arguments on issues that have been considered fully by the Court." Dellefave v. Access Temps., Inc., No. 99 Civ. 6098, 2001 WL 286771, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 22, 2001); see also In re Houbigant, Inc., 914 F. Supp. 997, 1001 (S.D.N.Y. 1996) (Local Rule 6.3 motion "is not a motion to reargue those issues already considered when a party does not like the way the original motion was resolved."); Carolco Pictures, Inc. v. Sirota, 700 F. Supp. 169, 170 (S.D.N.Y. 1988) (stating that the purpose of Local Rule 6.3 is to "ensure the finality of decisions and to prevent the practice of a losing party examining a decision and then plugging the gaps of a lost motion with additional matters").
A. The Inter-American Convention
As detailed in the Confirmation Order, a court is required to confirm an arbitration award unless one of the exceptions listed in the Inter-American Convention on International Commercial Arbitration ("Inter-American Convention") prohibits confirmation. See Banco III, 2003 WL 1787129, at *2 n. 4 (citing 9 U.S.C. § 207, 301 (2002)). This Court found that "none of the grounds for refusing confirmation under the Inter-American Convention are applicable." Id. at *3 Furthermore, "Banco [did] not attempt to argue that one of these limited exceptions prohibits confirmation of the [arbitration award]." Id..
In response to the Confirmation Order, Banco now contends, for the first time, that Article 5(e) of the Inter-American Convention applies, which states that an arbitration decision shall not be confirmed if:
the decision is not yet binding on the parties or has
been annulled or suspended by a competent authority of
the State in which . . . the decision has been made.
Id. at *2 n. 4 (emphasis added). Banco argues that it was not subject to any binding arbitration decision because Banco is currently appealing this Court's August 6, 2002 confirmation of the Arbitration Panel's interim arbitration orders.*fn2
See Banco de Seguros del Estado v. Mutual Marine Offices, Inc., 230 F. Supp.2d 362, 364 (S.D.N.Y. 2002). Banco contends that a pending appeal of an arbitration award renders the underlying award nonbinding. See Banco's Brief in Support of Motion for Reconsideration ("Banco Br.") 4. Banco's argument misses the mark.
The Court's Confirmation Order did not overlook any controlling decisions or factual matter concerning the applicability of Article 5(e). Although Banco's brief in support of its motion to vacate the arbitration award did not contain any reference to provisions of the Inter-American Convention, the Court considered the applicability of Article 5(e) sua sponte. See Banco's Memorandum of Law in Support of Its Motion to Vacate. Article 5(e) does not apply because the final arbitration award issued by the Arbitration Panel became binding when it was issued on October 17, 2002. The parties agreed to have arbitration serve as the final resolution to their disputes under the Casualty Umbrella Liability Quota Share Treaty. No court approval was needed to make the arbitration binding, as a court's confirmation "merely makes what is already a final arbitration award a judgment of the court." Florasynth, Inc. v. Pickholz, 750 F.2d 171, 176 (2d Cir. 1984).
Furthermore, Banco did not obtain a stay of the Final Award pending the appeal, nor does Banco cite any authority supporting the proposition that a final arbitration award is nonbinding. In addition, Banco does not cite any source interpreting Article 5(e), and the Court declines to accept Banco's interpretation. In sum, a pending appeal of an interim arbitration award does not affect the binding force of a final arbitration award.
B. The Arbitration Proceedings
The Confirmation Order notes that Banco does not challenge the arbitration process, but only contests the arbitrators' ultimate decision. This Court has already found that Banco "`was granted every opportunity to have a full and fair hearing on the subject of its liability.'" See Banco III, 2003 WL 1787129, at *2. Banco now argues that this statement is clearly erroneous, as Banco only had discovery as to damages, but not as to liability. See Banco Br. at 8. Instead, the arbitration panel determined liability after Banco defaulted in the arbitration proceedings.
Again, Banco's argument does not affect the Confirmation Order. The Court was well aware that liability was decided against Banco by default. Accordingly, the Confirmation Order carefully stated that Banco was given "every opportunity" to present its case to the arbitration panel. Banco chose to participate in the arbitration proceedings solely as to damages but not as to liability. Most importantly, Banco did not argue initially nor does it argue now, that the arbitration proceedings were corrupt or partial. Therefore, there are no grounds to vacate the award based on the arbitration proceedings. See Banco III, 2003 WL 1787129, at *2.
For the foregoing reasons, the final arbitration award was properly confirmed and Banco's Motion for Reconsideration is denied.