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Why Courts Overrule Arbitrators' Awards

NCJ Number
Labor Law Journal Volume: 36 Issue: 2 Dated: (February 1985) Pages: 108-117
E C Stephens
Date Published
10 pages
This article examines current court decisions that address the overruling of arbitrators' awards.
The grounds for attacking an arbitration award under common law are listed; they include fraud, misconduct, and gross unfairness by the arbitrator. Attention focuses on the most recent Supreme Court decision on the review of arbitration awards, W.R. Grace & Co. v. Rubber Workers Local 759. The Court's reliance on the standards set forth in the Steelworkers v. Enterprise Wheel and Car Corporation case is noted. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit's interpretation of this standard is explained in its decision in Arco-Polymers, Inc. v. OCAW, Local 8-74. Decisions indicate that a court may review an arbitrator's award if it appears that the arbitrator substituted his judgment for that of the parties, the award does not draw its essence from the contract, the award contains material error, and the award is against public law or policy. Cases illustrating these criteria are discussed; for example, Bacardi Corp. v. Congreso de Union, Miller Brewing Co. v. Brewery Workers, and St. Louis Theatrical Co. v. Local 6 are discussed as cases in which the arbitrators exceeded their authority. Riceland Foods v. Carpenters Local 2381 and Zeigler Coal Co. v. District 12 are described as cases in which the arbitrators substituted their judgments for those of management. These cases indicate that an arbitrator's award is not always final and binding on the parties. Included are 47 references.


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