United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER (1) DENYING PETITION TO VACATE ARBITRATION
AWARD; (2) GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS (17-CV-2285, ECF NO. 1;
17-CV-449, ECF NO. 8)
JANIS L. SAMMARTINO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court are two pending motions in two related
cases. The Court will first address Petitioner Bradley
Sayre's (“Mr. Sayre”) Petition to Vacate or
Modify Arbitration Award in Sayre v. J.P. Morgan
Securities LLC, 17-CV-2285, (“Petition, ”
ECF No. 1). Respondent J.P. Morgan Securities LLC
(“JMPS”) filed a Response to the Petition,
(“Petition Opp'n, ” ECF No. 7), and Mr. Sayre
filed a Reply in Support of the Petition, (“Petition
Reply, ” ECF No. 10).
in Sayre v. JP Morgan Chase & Co., 17-CV-449 is
Defendants JPMorgan Chase & Co. and J.P. Morgan
Securities LLC's (“Defendants”) Motion to
Dismiss or to Stay Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint,
or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment,
(“MTN, ” ECF No. 8-1). Mr. Sayre filed an
Opposition to the Motion, (“Opp'n, ” ECF No.
10), and Defendants filed a Reply in Support of the Motion,
(“Reply, ECF No. 12). Defendants also requested leave
to file supplemental briefing in support of their Motion,
which the Court granted. (See ECF Nos. 14, 17.)
Defendants filed their supplemental brief, (“Supp.
Brief, ” ECF No. 17), Mr. Sayre filed an Opposition,
(“Supp. Opp'n, ” ECF No. 18), and Defendants
filed a Reply, (“Supp. Reply, ” ECF No. 21).
Parties have requested the pending Motion and pending
Petition be heard together. (See 17-cv-2285, ECF No.
TO VACATE ARBITRATION AWARD; 17-CV-2285
Sayre worked for JPMS as a financial advisor. (Petition
He argues JPMS wrongfully terminated his employment on March
4, 2014 after he complained about policies and protocols he
contends were unlawful. (Id. at 4.) On March 4,
2015, Mr. Sayre filed an arbitration case against JMPS with
the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority
(“FINRA”). (Id.) The Parties worked to
settle the case, and the arbitration hearing was continued
several times at the request of JPMS. (Id.) The
Parties appeared at the arbitration hearing on July 18, 2017.
On this day, the Parties participated in arbitration in the
morning. (Petition Opp'n 7.) After lunch, Mr. Sayre's
counsel, Mr. Mirch, became ill and needed to go to the
doctor. Given that Mr. Mirch and Mrs. Mirch (his wife and law
partner) confirmed that no other attorney at the firm could
competently represent Mr. Sayre, they requested the
arbitration panel continue the hearing to the next day.
(Petition 5.) The Panel granted the motion. (Id.)
The next morning, Mrs. Mirch appeared and requested a
continuance because neither Mr. Mirch nor Mr. Sayre could be
present. (Petition Opp'n 8.) Mr. Mirch was to be absent
due to his health and Mr. Sayre was to be absent because his
wife was about to have a baby. (Id.) The Panel
requested Mrs. Mirch present them with a doctor's note
for Mr. Mirch and a statement of availability for Mr. Sayre.
(Petition 5; Petition Opp'n 9.) Mrs. Mirch returned with
an email from Mr. Sayre stating his request to postpone the
hearings and that he intended to take 12 weeks of personal
time to support his family. (Petition Opp'n 9.) Mrs.
Mirch also presented a note from an urgent care physician
stating Mr. Mirch was placed off work through July 21, 2017
and needed to go to the emergency department. (Id.
at 10; Petition 5.) Mr. Mirch was in the emergency room.
(Petition 6.) The Panel denied the motion to continue the
hearing. (Id.) The hearing concluded on the
afternoon of July 19, 2017. (Petition Opp'n 11.) The
Panel found in favor of JPMS. (Petition 8.) Mr. Sayre
requests the Court vacate the arbitration award.
the Federal Arbitration Act, a district court may vacate an
(1) where the award was procured by corruption, fraud, or
(2) where there was evident partiality or corruption in the
arbitrators, or either of them;
(3) where the arbitrators were guilty of misconduct in
refusing to postpone the hearing, upon sufficient cause
shown, or in refusing to hear evidence pertinent and material
to the controversy; or of any other misbehavior by which the
rights of any party have been prejudiced; or
(4) where the arbitrators exceeded their powers, or so
imperfectly executed them that a mutual, final, and definite
award upon the subject matter submitted was not made.
9 U.S.C. § 10(a). “As is apparent from the language,
these standards are highly deferential to the
arbitrator.” Johnson v. Wells Fargo Home Mortg.,
Inc., 635 F.3d 401, 414 (9th Cir. 2011). “It is
generally held that an arbitration award will not be set
aside unless it evidences a ‘manifest disregard for
law.'” Todd Shipyards Corp. v. Cunard Line,
Ltd., 943 F.2d 1056, 1060 (9th Cir. 1991) (citing
United Steelworkers v. Am. Mfg. Co., 363 U.S. 564
(1960)). A court should not reverse an arbitration award
“even in the face of erroneous interpretations of the
law.” A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc. v.
McCollough, 967 F.2d 1401, 1403 (9th Cir. 1992) (citing
Todd Shipyards, 943 F.2d at 1060). But, “the
arbitrary denial of a reasonable request for postponement may
serve as grounds for vacating an arbitral award.”
Sheet Metal Workers Int'l. Ass'n Local Union No.
420 v. Kinney Air Conditioning Co., 756 F.2d 742, 746
(9th Cir. 1985).
Sayre argues the Court should vacate the arbitration award
because “the arbitrators were guilty of misconduct in
refusing to postpone the hearing, upon sufficient cause
shown.” (Petition 9 (citing 9 U.S.C. § 10(a)(3).)
Overall, he argues the award must be vacated because the
arbitrators' refusal to postpone the hearing when neither
he nor his counsel could be present was unconscionable and
denied him his right to be heard. (See Petition.)
written opinion, the Panel discussed Mr. Sayre and Mr.
Mirch's motion to postpone the hearing. The Panel noted
discussed if there was sufficient evidence presented by
Claimant's counsel, both witness testimony and the
written exhibits, to assure that the Panel could make an
honest, impartial, and comprehensive evaluation of
Claimant's case. The Panel also considered Claimant's
memo concerning his voluntary absence from the hearing. By
unanimous vote, the Panel affirmed that the Panel could and
would make an honest, impartial, and comprehensive evaluation
of Claimant's case. The unanimous vote was to deny the
request for an indefinite postponement.
(ECF No. 11-5, at 4.) An arbitration award is generally upheld
if there was “any reasonable basis” for denying
the requested continuance. Cortina v. Citigroup
Global Markets, Inc., No. 10CV2423-L RBB, 2011
WL 3654496, at *5 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 19, 2011) (quoting
Scott v. Prudential Sec., Inc., 141 F.3d 1007, 1016
(11th Cir. 1998).)
the Panel cited the “reasonable basis” for its
denial of a continuance. The Panel determined it could make
an impartial decision with or without Mr. Sayer and Mr.
Mirch's presence. The Panel reviewed the evidence
submitted by both Parties. The Panel reasonably found an
indefinite postponement of the arbitration hearing was
unnecessary given there was sufficient evidence available
that would allow it to make a fair and impartial decision.
The Parties had both made opening statements, Mr. Sayre's
first witness had been examined, and both Parties'
exhibit books were to be admitted into evidence. (ECF No.
11-5, at 3, 5.) Although the arbitration hearing continued in
Mr. Sayre and Mr. Mirch's absence, ...