Williams International designs, manufactures, and services small jet engines. In May 2013, Dodson International Parts Inc., a company that sells new and used aircraft parts, purchased a damaged aircraft fitted with two engines manufactured by Williams. After purchasing the aircraft, Dodson contracted with Williams to inspect the engines and prepare an estimate of repair costs, intending to sell the repaired engines. The quotes for the work provided by Williams, and signed by Dodson, contained an arbitration clause requiring that “all disputes arising from or in connection with maintenance performed by Williams International shall be submitted to binding arbitration.” After inspecting the engines, Williams determined that the engines were so badly damaged that they could not be rendered fit for flying. However, because Dodson had not paid the requisite fees, Williams refused to return one of the engines.
Dodson sued Williams in federal court alleging federal antitrust and state law tort claims. Williams moved to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act, relying on the arbitration clause in the original signed quotes. The district court granted the motion, and the arbitrator resolved all of Dodson’s claims in favor of Williams. Dodson then moved to reconsider the order compelling arbitration and to vacate the arbitrator’s award. The court denied both motions and, construing Williams’s opposition to the motion for vacatur as a request to confirm the award, confirmed the award. Dodson appealed, challenging the district court’s order compelling arbitration and its order confirming the award and denying the motions for reconsideration and vacatur.
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Williams on all three issues. On the primary question of arbitrability, Dodson argued that its claims were not arbitrable because its antitrust and state law tort claims were not “arising from or in connection with maintenance performed” by Williams. The court determined that “maintenance” included more than just repair work — simply inspecting machinery is typically referred to as maintenance work as well. And, acknowledging that language such as “arising out of or in connection with” is interpreted quite expansively, the court held that all of Dodson’s claims were connected to Williams’s work and therefore encompassed by the arbitration clause. Dodson also argued that its claims were not arbitrable because they arose either before its contracts with Williams were executed or after they terminated, but the court rejected this argument as well, as the arbitration clause at issue had no temporal element. All that was required for a dispute to be arbitrable was that it be one “arising from or in connection with maintenance performed by Williams.”
With respect to its motion for reconsideration, Dodson moved under District of Kansas Local Rule 7.3(b), which requires that parties seeking reconsideration must file a motion within 14 days after an order is issued, and must be based on (1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence; or (3) the need to correct clear error or prevent manifest injustice. While the Tenth Circuit agreed with the district court that no new controlling law had been established, nor had there been any manifest injustice visited on Dodson, it needed to look no further than Dodson’s filing date — nearly three years after entry of the order compelling arbitration. The district court’s denial of Dodson’s motion for reconsideration was sufficient on this ground alone.
Finally, Dodson challenged the district court’s order confirming the arbitration on the grounds that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to confirm the award and that the confirmation order was improper on the merits. The Tenth Circuit found none of these arguments remotely persuasive and affirmed the district court’s order.
Dodson International Parts Inc. v. Williams International Co., No. 20-3193 (10th Cir. Sept. 13, 2021).