from Smaligo v. Fireman's Fund Ins. Co., 432 Pa. 133, 247 A. 2d 577 (1968), in which counsel made an offer at the hearing to present further testimony. There is no doubt that plaintiff received a fair hearing on December 29, 1971.
The issue remains whether the refusal of the arbitrator to hear testimony of a handwriting expert first offered one week after the hearing denied plaintiff a fair hearing because it excluded pertinent and material evidence. There can be little doubt that if a handwriting expert's testimony had been offered at the hearing the arbitrator would have been required to hear it. The arbitrator, however, concluded that in this case the hearing had been closed and he would only reopen it with the parties' mutual consent. In his correspondence the arbitrator stressed that both sides had had the opportunity to present all relevant evidence at the hearing, and that plaintiff was only seeking to introduce evidence which it had purposely withheld at the hearing. The arbitrator was concerned with the necessity of completing the arbitration procedure and not permitting it to drag on indefinitely.
The arbitrator's concern is a valid one. Arbitration is meant to be a quick, peaceful method of settling employer-employee grievances without undue disruption. See Boys Markets, Inc. v. Retail Clerks Union, Local 770, supra at 249. It is certainly necessary that arbitration hearings be considered closed at some time so that the arbitrator may decide the case.
In the present action a reading of the transcript indicated that the hearing on December 29 was considered closed and complete. It would also appear that the arbitrator was correct in his view that the employer's decision to forego expert handwriting testimony was conscious and deliberate. Plaintiff's questioning of Mrs. Malampy was directed from the beginning at alleged similarities between the discharged employee's admitted writings and the alleged forgeries. This, of course, is exactly the stuff of which expert handwriting testimony is made. Plaintiff's claim of surprise is difficult to accept.
A significant factor in deciding whether the arbitrator improperly refused such testimony is the fact that plaintiff never proffered what the testimony of such an expert would be. When plaintiff's counsel first suggested such testimony, he proposed that either the arbitrator or the parties appoint an expert to testify. Shopping Cart never informed the arbitrator that it had retained a handwriting expert who would testify that the figures in question were forged by Mrs. Malampy.
Without a more definite proffer by plaintiff the arbitrator could reasonably conclude that the testimony might not be pertinent and material as required by 9 U.S.C. § 10(c) since it might be favorable to either side or entirely inconclusive.
While we do not hold that an arbitrator may always decline to hear testimony offered after the close of the hearing, we will not reverse the arbitrator in this case. Plaintiff had a full opportunity to present evidence at the hearing; it knew or should have known that testimony of this type would be relevant; it sought no continuance of the hearing for the purpose of producing such testimony; and it failed to make a proffer of what the testimony would show. This court is aware of its limited scope of review. Under the facts and circumstances of this case we cannot find that the arbitrator was guilty of misconduct that deprived plaintiff of a fair hearing.
Now, October 31, 1972, It Is Ordered that the motion for summary judgment of defendant, Amalgamated Food Employees Local 196, is Granted; the motion for summary judgment of plaintiff, Shopping Cart, is Denied.