Burr Alert: Mississippi Supreme Court Reaffirms Narrow Role of Courts in Modifying Arbitration Awards

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The Mississippi Supreme Court recently considered the narrow role of courts in amending arbitration awards and the applicability of federal and state statutes in a choice-of-law conflict. See D.W. Caldwell, Inc. v. W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Company 2017-CA-00116-SCT (Miss. 2018). The Court ultimately held that the miscalculations alleged by Yates & Sons Construction Company ("Yates") regarding the arbitration award given to D.W. Caldwell, Inc. ("Caldwell") were not evident or apparent, and therefore the original arbitration award should be confirmed. Additionally, the Court found that the trial court judge erred by allowing both parties to present witness testimonies, rather than focusing on the record from arbitration.

Yates and Caldwell agreed to enter into a construction subcontract in which Caldwell was to install roofing on a dormitory at Auburn University in Auburn, AL. Upon discovering that there were structural issues with the building, Caldwell and Yates agreed Caldwell would repair them before proceeding with the roofing. Instead of amending the existing contract, Yates advised Caldwell to bill the additional work toward "unperformed work."

Upon completion of the work, Caldwell was never fully compensated, and filed a claim for the breach of the agreement. As previously agreed, the parties sought arbitration to resolve the dispute. Following a thirteen-page award in favor of Caldwell, Yates filed a motion for clarification and/or correction of the award. The arbitrator denied Yates's motion; Caldwell subsequently requested that the circuit court confirm the award. A month later, Yates moved for the trial court to amend the award, and in anticipation of Yates providing oral argument at the hearing, Caldwell requested limitation of proof presentation. On December 1, 2016, the circuit court overruled Caldwell's request for limitation of proof presentation, and allowed the parties to introduce evidence and witness testimony. The court ultimately determined that there was an evident miscalculation in the original award, and reduced it accordingly by $104,507.00. Caldwell appealed.

Download full article, "Mississippi Supreme Court Reaffirms Narrow Role of Courts in Modifying Arbitration Awards" written by Christopher D. Meyer

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