United States District Court, D. Nevada
MIRANDA M. DU, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action stems from the parties' dispute relating to
contracts for engineering and technical services in
connection with the mining of precious metals. The Court
stayed this action to allow the parties to arbitrate their
dispute, which resulted in an award that Defendant now
challenges. There are two substantive motions pending before
the Court. First, Plaintiff Geo-Logic Associates, Inc.
(“GLA”) moves to (1) confirm the arbitration
award, asking the Court to enter judgment regarding the same,
and (2) seeks attorneys' fees and expenses (“GLA
Motion”). (ECF. No. 25.) Second, Defendant Metal
Recovery Solutions, Inc. (“MRS”) moves to
partially vacate the final arbitration award before the Court
rules on the GLA Motion (“Motion to Vacate”).
(ECF. No. 30.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court
confirms the arbitration award and accordingly denies the
Motion to Vacate. GLA's request for attorneys' fees
a geologic, geotechnical, civil and environmental firm with
25 offices in eight states and an affiliate office in Peru.
(ECF No. 1 at 2.) MRS is metallurgical engineering firm based
in Reno, Nevada. (ECF No. 32 at 5.) Dr. Thomas Seal is the
CEO, CTO and majority owner of MRS. (Id.) Goldcorp
Inc. (“Goldcorp”) is a gold production company
with headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
(ECF No. 25-1 at 6.)
2015, MRS entered an agreement with Goldcorp to provide
services and equipment at Goldcorp's Los Filos gold mine
(“Mine”) project in central Mexico.
(Id.) In October 2015, MRS retained the services of
GLA to provide personnel and manage the project.
(Id.) Per a Master Services Agreement
(“MSA”) between the parties, the work would be
carried out in designated phases. (ECF No. 25-1 at 6.) At a
meeting on September 23, 2016 (“Meeting”), MRS
and GLA discussed a 70/30 profit split between MRS and GLA
for Phase 3 of the project. (ECF No. 32 at 15.) In December
2016, MRS began work on Phase 3 without GLA's services.
(ECF No. 1 at 8; ECF No. 39-1 at 44-45.)
September 23, 2017, GLA filed this action, asserting claims
against MRS and Dr. Seal. (ECF No. 1.) In lieu of proceeding
in this Court, the parties stipulated to binding arbitration
as to claims against MRS. (ECF No. 20.) During arbitration,
MRS asserted counterclaims against GLA. (ECF No. 25-1 at 4.)
The arbitrator ultimately found in GLA's favor, awarding
GLA $2, 037, 586, plus prejudgment interest at the lawful
rate accruing from September 13, 2017-the date of
commencement of this action. (ECF No. 25-1 at 4-13.)
Motion seeks confirmation of the arbitration award and an
executable judgment against MRS. MRS argues in response that
the arbitrator improperly decided certain terms of the award
and has separately moved to vacate those terms.
of an arbitration award is “both limited and highly
deferential”. Comedy Club, Inc. v. Improv W.
Assocs., 553 F.3d 1277, 1288 (9th Cir. 2009). Upon
application for confirmation of an arbitration award,
“the court must grant such an order unless the award is
vacated, modified, or corrected . . ..” 9 U.S.C. §
9. “The Federal Arbitration Act enumerates limited
grounds on which a federal court may vacate, modify, or
correct an arbitral award. Neither erroneous legal
conclusions nor unsubstantiated factual findings justify
federal court review of an arbitral award.” Kyocera
Corp. v. Prudential-Bache Trade Serv. Inc., 341 F.3d
987, 994 (9th Cir. 2003) (internal citations omitted).
Vacatur is permitted “where the arbitrator exceeded
[his] 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)(4). An arbitrator
exceeds his powers “not when [he] merely interpret[s]
or appl[ies] the governing law incorrectly, but when the
award is completely irrational, or exhibits a manifest
disregard of law.” Kyocera, 341 F.3d at 997
(internal citations omitted). However, “if, on its
face, the award represents a plausible interpretation of the
contract, judicial inquiry ceases and the award must be
enforced.” McKesson Corp. v. Local 150 IBT,
969 F.2d 831, 833 (9th Cir. 1992).
completely irrational standard is extremely narrow and is
satisfied only where the arbitration decision fails to draw
its essence from the agreement.” Comedy Club,
553 F.3d at 1288 (quoting Hoffman v. Cargill Inc.,
236 F.3d 458, 461-62 (8th Cir. 2001)). To determine if an
arbitration award draws its essence from the agreement,
courts view the agreement in light of its “language and
context, as well as other indications of the parties'
intentions.” Bosack v. Soward, 586 F.3d 1096,
1106 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting McGrann v. First Albany
Corp., 424 F.3d 743, 749 (8th Cir. 2005)). Additionally,
if there is a basis in the record for the arbitrator's
decision, it will not be deemed completely irrational.
See Comedy Club, 553 F.3d at 1289.
disregard of the law requires more than an error in
interpretation or application of the law. Thompson v.
Tega-Rand Int'l, 740 F.2d 762, 763 (9th Cir. 1984)
(per curiam). “[M]ere allegations of error are
insufficient.” Collins v. D.R. Horton, Inc.,
505 F.3d 874, 879 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Carter v.
Health Net of California, Inc., 374 F.3d 830, 838 (9th
Cir. 2004)). Instead, it must be “clear from the record
that the arbitrator recognized the applicable law and then
ignored it.” Mich. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Unigard Sec.
Ins. Co., 44 F.3d 826, 832 (9th Cir. 1995).
asserts that the portion of the award finding that MRS and
GLA entered into an oral contract for Phase 3 of the Mine is
irrational and manifestly disregards the law. (ECF No. 30 at
2-3.) As to the former, MRS claims the arbitrator disregarded
a requirement in the MSA that work orders for the Mine had to
be in writing. (ECF. No. 30 at 2.) As to the latter, MRS
argues that the arbitrator ignored the requirement that there
must be a meeting of the minds on ...