United States District Court, D. Nevada
Hoffman, Jr., United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the Court on non-party Ara H.
Shirinian's Motion to Quash Subpoena, (ECF No. 343),
filed January 20, 2017, Plaintiffs Deborah Sanzaro and
Michael Sanzaro's Opposition (ECF No. 349), filed January
24, 2017, and Mr. Shirinian's Reply (ECF No. 355), filed
February 2, 2017. The Court also received Plaintiff's
Opposition to Non-Party Mr. Shirinian's Reply (ECF No.
357), filed February 8, 2017, but did not consider this
surreply because it had not been authorized by the Court.
Local Rule 7-2(b). Defendants Ardiente Homeowners Association
LLC, Scott Harris, Corona Ardiente LLC, Margo Hughen, Ryan
Smith, RMI Management, LLC, and Kevin Wallace joined Mr.
Shirinian's Motion (ECF No. 344) on January 23, 2017.
Trial in the underlying matter is scheduled to begin on April
bring the underlying action for civil rights violations
related to an animal being brought into the homeowner's
association clubhouse, and fines associated therewith. In the
early stages of that dispute, in 2009, the parties appeared
before Arbitrator Shirinian who had been appointed by the
Nevada Department of Real Estate to arbitrate the dispute,
and he conducted the arbitration and rendered an award.
Plaintiffs have now issued a subpoena for Mr. Shirinian's
appearance to testify at the trial, and he objects and moves
to quash the subpoena because, under Nevada Revised Statutes
§ 38.229, an arbitrator is not competent to testify.
Plaintiffs respond that they require Mr. Shirinian to testify
because they believe that in the arbitration, he did not have
jurisdiction to decide the issues, and therefore he has no
immunity. Plaintiffs indicate they intend to ask Mr.
Shirinian only about his knowledge of qualifications to rule
on federal discrimination issues and his lack of
jurisdiction, but will not ask him “any questions
regarding any statement he may have made, conduct, decision
or anything happening in the arbitral (sic)
itself.” (Opp'n (ECF No. 349) at 2:16-17.)
Rules of Civil Procedure 45(d)(3)(iii) provides that, upon
timely motion, the court for the district where compliance is
required must quash or modify a subpoena that requires
disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, if no
exception or waiver applies. Rule 45(e)(2) further sets forth
the process for a person withholding subpoenaed information
to assert a privilege claim, that is, to expressly make the
claim, and to describe the nature of the withheld
Mr. Shirinian points to Nevada law which provides that in
relevant part that “in a judicial . . . proceeding, an
arbitrator . . . is not competent to testify, and may not be
required to produce records as to any statement, conduct,
decision or ruling occurring during the arbitral proceeding,
to the same extent as a judge of a court of this state acting
in a judicial capacity.” Nev. Rev. Stat. §
38.229(4). Plaintiffs desire to have Mr. Shirinian testify
about his qualifications to rule on federal discrimination
law and his lack of jurisdiction as it relates to this case.
By statute, because these subjects relate to his performance
of duties as an arbitrator in this case, the matters are
protected, and he may not testify about them. Plaintiffs
provide no argument that there are any applicable exceptions
in this situation.
Mr. Shirinian advises that he had no dealings with the
Plaintiffs except in his capacity as arbitrator. His
testimony regarding his qualifications to rule on federal
discrimination issues and his “lack of
jurisdiction” to conduct the arbitration is not
relevant to the claims and defenses in this case. To the
extent that there is an admissible arbitration decision in
this matter, it will speak for itself. See Reichman v.
Creative Real Estate Consultants, Inc., 476 F.Supp.
1276, 1286 (S.D.N.Y. 1979) (granting a motion to quash a
deposition subpoena served on an arbitrator and reasoning
that “nothing that the arbitrator could conceivably say
at his deposition would have ‘any tendency to make the
existence of any fact that is of consequence to the
determination of the action more probable or less probable
than it would be without the evidence.'” (quoting
Fed.R.Evid. 401).) Accordingly, the Court must quash the
subpoena for Mr. Shirinian to testify in this matter.
HEREBY ORDERED that Mr. Shirinian's Motion to Quash
Subpoena (ECF No. 343) is granted.
FURTHER ORDERED that the subpoena (ECF No. 329) issued as to
Mr. Shirinian is quashed.
FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court must serve a copy of
this order by United States mail on Ara H. Shirinian at the
 The trial date related to the subpoena
was February 9, 2017, but that date was vacated by the
district judge. (Minute Orders (ECF Nos. 350, 362,
 Plaintiff's position seems to be
internally inconsistent-the arbitrator's answers to these
questions would necessarily be made in the context of his
role as the arbitrator during the arbitration.
 Although Mr. Shirinian primarily
relies on Nevada law, federal common law also extends
judicial immunity to arbitrators and arbitral organizations.
See Wasyl, Inc. v. First Boston Corp., 813 F.2d
1579, 1582 (9th Cir. 1987); Slaughter v. American
Arbitration Ass'n, No. 2:10-cv-01437-KJD-GWF, 2011
WL 2174403, at *1, *2 (D. Nev. June 2, 2011) (citing
Wasyl and finding that an arbitral organization and
it arbitrators are immune from civil liability under Nevada
Revised Statutes § 38.229). This includes immunity from
testifying in a subsequent proceeding, absent evidence of
arbitrator misconduct. See, e.g., Woods v. Saturn
Distrib. Corp.,78 F.3d 424, 430-31 (9th Cir. 1996)
(holding district court did not abuse its discretion in
denying the deposition of an arbitrator because no evidence
of bias was presented); Reichman v. Creative Real Estate
Consultants, Inc.,476 F.Supp. 1279, ...