The Eighth Circuit reversed a district court decision vacating an arbitration award relating to a federal crop insurance policy issued through a standard reinsurance agreement with the Federal Crop Insurance Corp. (FCIC). The district court had ruled that the arbitrator exceeded his powers under the arbitration agreement by interpreting the crop insurance policy. Pursuant to FCIC regulations, the policy included a provision prohibiting the arbitrator from interpreting either the policy or FCIC procedures, and instead requiring the parties to obtain such an interpretation from the FCIC itself.
The Eighth Circuit found that the question whether the arbitrator was required to interpret the policy was not raised by either party until after the award had already been issued. Emphasizing that the courts are to “accord an extraordinary level of deference” to the arbitrator’s decision, the Eighth Circuit stated that an “arbitrator has not exceeded his powers where neither party suggested that a term of the policy was subject to interpretation, but the interpretation dispute instead arose after the arbitration proceedings.” The Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded, directing the district court to enter an order confirming the arbitration award.
Balvin v. Rain & Hail, LLC, No. 18-3018 (8th Cir. Dec. 2, 2019).