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CP Media Limited v. Runaway Home Productions

October 4, 2010

CP MEDIA LIMITED PETITIONER,
v.
RUNAWAY HOME PRODUCTIONS, LLC RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Otis D. Wright II United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING RUNAWAY HOME'S MOTION TO CONFIRM ARBITRATION AWARD AND DENYING CP MEDIA'S MOTION TO VACATE ARBITRATION AWARD [6, 7]

I. INTRODUCTORY BACKGROUND

Now before the Court are Runaway Home Productions, LLC's ("Runaway") Motion to Confirm Arbitration Award [6] and CP Media Limited's ("CP Media") Motion to Vacate the same [7]. After considering the parties' briefs, the Court finds the matter suitable for decision without oral argument. See Local Rule 7-15.

On March 30, 2010, an arbitrator of the Independent Film and Television Alliance ("IFTA") awarded Runaway damages in the sum of $218,900.00 from CP Media (the "Award"). The arbitration resulted from CP Media's failure to pay certain sums due to Runaway under the terms of an International Distribution Agreement (the "Agreement"), pursuant to which CP Media obtained the right to distribute Runaway's film, "My One And Only" (the "Film"). Around April 22, 2010, the Arbitrator rendered his Corrected Award which, among other things, clarified that "there was no ostensible authority to terminate the [ ] Agreement." (Herrick Decl., Exh. H) (emphasis added).

CP Media filed and served its Petition to Vacate Arbitration Award on June 29, 2010, but did not file and serve a noticed motion to vacate the award until August 13, 2010. Runaway Home filed its motion to confirm the arbitration award on August 4, 2010.

Runaway argues the award should be confirmed because it "was the result of a proceeding where due process and procedural rights were observed to the letter and the arbitrator thoroughly analyzed the applicable law and set forth the Award with legal support." (Runaway Mot. at 9.) CP Media contends "although the [ ] Award may be subject to confirmation based upon the raw procedural rules, the Court's entry of judgment on the [ ] Award would reflect the enforcement of a decision that is internally inconsistent and where the ultimate conclusion contradicts the Arbitrator's specific findings." (CP Media Opp'n at 3.) Other facts shall be discussed as necessary.

II. DISCUSSION

1. CP Media's Motion to Vacate Arbitration Award [7]

The Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA") provides: "Notice of a motion to vacate, modify, or correct an award must be served upon the adverse party or his attorney within three months after the award is filed or delivered." 9 U.S.C. § 12. Runaway argues CP Media's petition should be dismissed because "CP Media has not served its motion to vacate within the time allotted by the FAA." (Runaway Mot. at 10.)

It is undisputed that, although CP Media filed and served its Petition to Vacate Arbitration Award within the three-month limitations period, it failed to file a noticed motion within three months after the Corrected Award was delivered. (CP Media Opp'n at 4.) Indeed, as Runaway points out, CP Media "did not serve its motion to vacate until it had already been served with a timely-filed Motion to Confirm, [well past the three-month limitations period]." (Runaway Opp'n at 7-8.) Thus, because CP Media filed a petition to vacate the arbitration award instead of a noticed a motion, as contemplated by 9 U. S. C. § 12, "the Court should simply dismiss the Petition to Vacate, deny the Motion and confirm this Award [ ]." (Runaway Reply at 3.)

Runaway cites a Seventh Circuit decision for the proposition that "service of a motion to vacate is the act that stops the three-month statute of limitations." Webster v. A.T. Kearney, Inc., 507 F.3d 568, 572 (7th Cir. 2007). In reaching this conclusion, however, the Webster court focused not so much on the designation of the particular filing (Petition or Motion), but on the date that filing was served. Here, Runaway does not dispute that CP Media properly served its Petition to Vacate within the three-month limitations period. The only remaining problem is thus that CP Media filed a Petition to Vacate Arbitration Award instead of a noticed motion.

Under the FAA, an application to vacate an award "shall be made and heard in the manner provided by law for the making and hearing of motions ...." 9 U.S.C. §6. Except for a specific hearing date, CP Media argues, its Petition to Vacate Award set forth all of the elements of a motion as specified in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 7(b)(1), which requires that a motion "must: (A) be made in writing . . . ; (B) state with particularity the grounds for seeking the order; and (C) state the relief sought." (CP Media Opp'n at 5) (the court would elevate form over substance were it to dismiss the timely-served petition).

Be that as it may, CP Media has nevertheless failed to properly challenge the arbitration award in the manner prescribed by the FAA. Primarily, CP Media has neither moved to vacate the award "in the manner provided by law for the making and hearing of motions" 9 U.S.C. §6, nor has it served upon Runaway "[n]notice of a motion to vacate ...within three months after the award is filed or delivered." 9 U.S.C.. § 12. The Court therefore finds that CP Media's failure to file a timely motion to vacate the award precludes it from challenging that award at this juncture. See, e.g., Romero v. Citibank USA, Nat. Ass'n, 551 F. Supp. 2d 1010, 1013 (E.D. Cal. 2008) ("A motion to vacate an arbitration award after the three months [ ] time is not permitted, even if filed as part of an opposition to a motion to confirm an arbitration award or to assert new claims.").

Out of an abundance of caution, the Court next considers the merits of CP Media's arguments as part of Runaway's motion ...


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