A Colorado federal court affirmed a FINRA arbitration award, despite a cross-motion to vacate the award on the bases of alleged panel misconduct; exceeding its powers; manifest disregard of the law; and that the award did not contain a showing as to how the evidence justifies the award.
First, the Court rejected defendant’s argument that the Panel’s refusal to grant a second continuance did not amount to misconduct. Following the first continuance, defendant was given ample time – three months – to obtain new counsel and have them prepare for the hearing.
Second, the Court also rejected defendant’s argument that the panel exceeded its powers by hearing and ruling on claims that were beyond the Panel’s jurisdiction under FINRA rules. The Court reasoned that, “because it was for the Panel and not this Court to decide whether Plaintiff’s claims fell within Rule 12206(a)’s six-year time frame, the Court reject[ed] Defendant’s invitation to second-guess the Panel’s interpretation of FINRA Rule 12206(a).”
Third, the Court rejected defendant’s argument that the Panel acted in manifest disregard of the law by hearing, and ruling on, claims which were barred by state law under the relevant statutes of limitations. The Court reasoned that, even if the Panel had erroneously applied the applicable statutes of limitations, “incorrect application of a state’s statute of limitations does not rise to the level of manifest disregard of the law.”
Lastly, the Court rejected defendant’s argument that the award did not contain a showing as to how the evidence justifies the award, findings of fact or conclusions of law. Despite this argument being improperly raised in defendant’s reply, the arbitration provision specifically stated the arbitrators do not have to explain the reasons for their award, and the “Panel could have reasonably concluded that this provision allowed the Panel to dispense with written findings of fact and conclusions of law”.