to enable parties to proceedings, such as this one, to avoid such a scenario. Crow should have been notified of the potential conflict in order to have a chance to respond accordingly, or, at the very least, seek an alternate arbitrator. Ms. Meyer's failure to make the necessary disclosure gives rise to an obvious appearance of bias.
Mr. Galante's undisclosed work for Cohen Seglias is equally troublesome. The fact that at the time the JMB/Crow arbitration was proceeding Cohen Seglias selected Mr. Galante to arbitrate a matter and paid him, not under the auspices of AAA but rather directly, raises a number of obvious issues. Certainly any time money changes hands directly between an arbitrator and a representative of one of the parties involved in a pending arbitration before that arbitrator, disclosure must take place. Mr. Galante's failure to disclose this untimely transaction bears the appearance of bias.
Finally, perhaps most disturbing is the arbitrators' failure to disclose to Crow their role in the JMB/Greenfield arbitration. While the Respondent points out that the overlap between the two cases was minimal, this Court must point out that such an argument does little to explain the problems associated with such a situation. As indicated earlier, the arbitrators' hearing another case involving JMB could lead to consideration of facts about Plaintiff JMB which are largely irrelevant to the JMB/Crow matter. More importantly, any facts taken from the JMB/Greenfield matter either consciously or sub-consciously would go unaddressed by Crow. Finally, while it is true the overlap was short in length, it occurred at the conclusion of the JMB/Crow matter, a crucial time in which the arbitrators were presumably making their determinations as to liability and damages. These factors explain the need for full disclosure, however, they do not explain the basis for this Court's determination that the appearance of bias standard has been met. Arbitrators Galante and Meyer's decision to disclose their dual roles to the parties in the JMB/Greenfield matter and not those in the JMB/Crow matter had the effect of placing each of the parties, with the exception of Crow, on notification of their dual roles. In essence, the arbitrators acknowledged the importance of disclosure by making a disclosure to the parties in the JMB/Greenfield matter but failed to notify Crow. When making their disclosures to the JMB/Greenfield parties they could reasonably conclude that they had notified all of the parties involved in the two matters, except Crow, of their dual roles. Arbitrator Meyer explained while testifying before this Court that she assumed the AAA disclosed the situation to Crow. Such an explanation raises another important question, why make the disclosure in JMB/Greenfield if she assumed the AAA makes such necessary disclosures? In addition, during her testimony, Ms. Meyer explained that she did not notify Crow of her presence in both arbitrations because of an awkwardness associated with making such a disclosure to a party in Crow's situation. There is little doubt that this awkwardness stems from the appearance of bias associated with such a scenario. This blatant failure to notify Crow of the JMB/Greenfield arbitration meets and exceeds the appearance of bias standard.
When considered individually, any one of the above described failed disclosures constitutes an appearance of bias. Viewed together as a whole, they constitute not only the appearance of bias but, perhaps, a suggestion of bias. Regardless, the Petitioner has met the appearance of bias standard and therefore has proven under 9 U.S.C. § 10(a) that evident partiality is present thereby necessitating vacation of the arbitration award. The repeated failed disclosures in the arbitration process here resulted in a selection process whereby the Petitioner was not afforded a fair opportunity to make informed choices with regard to the arbitrators proposed by the AAA. Such a failure lies in direct contradiction with the spirit of Commonwealth Coatings and intent behind both the Court's opinion and Justice White's concurrence in that matter. Finally, such a failure ultimately fails the arbitration process as a whole.
AN APPROPRIATE ORDER SHALL FOLLOW.
AND NOW, this 9th day of May, 2003, for the reasons set forth in the accompanying Opinion, it is hereby ORDERED that Petitioner's Petition to Vacate the Arbitration Award (Document 1) is GRANTED. The arbitration award is hereby VACATED. The Clerk shall mark this matter CLOSED for statistical purposes.
AND IT IS SO ORDERED.