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U.S. Steel Mining Co., L.L.C. v. Wilson Downhole Services

October 5, 2006

U.S. STEEL MINING COMPANY, L.L.C., PLAINTIFF,
v.
WILSON DOWNHOLE SERVICES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Terrence F. McVerry United States District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Presently before the Court are the following motions:

* PETITION TO VACATE ARBITRATION AWARD, with brief in support filed by Plaintiff, U.S. Steel Mining Company, L.L.C., and Response in Opposition filed by Defendant, Wilson Downhole Services; and

* MOTION TO CONFIRM ARBITRATION AWARD filed by Defendant, Wilson Downhole Services, Response in Opposition filed by Plaintiff U.S. Steel Mining Company, L.L.C., and Reply Brief filed by Defendant, Wilson Downhole Services.

For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny the Petition to Vacate Arbitration Award and grant the Motion to Confirm Arbitration Award.

BACKGROUND

This matter was initiated on September 5, 2000, by the filing of a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment by U.S. Steel Mining Company, L.L.C. ("USM") against Wilson Downhole Services ("Wilson Downhole"), in which USM sought a ruling that it was not obligated to pay an additional $227,924.73 claimed by Wilson Downhole for certain drilling services performed by Wilson Downhole in early 1998 at USM's Pinnacle Mine in Pinnacle, West Virginia.

On May 29, 2002, the parties entered into an Agreement of Reference to Arbitration ("Arbitration Agreement") and agreed that all of their claims would be submitted to arbitration. The Arbitration Agreement provided, in pertinent part, as follows:

* "The Court in the Pennsylvania Action shall retain jurisdiction of this matter for purposes consistent with this Agreement and the FAA."

* "Any Award or decision, shall be in writing signed by the arbitrator stating the reasons upon which the Award or decision is based and offering sufficient explanation of the Award or decision and the arbitrator's reasoning for such Award or decision. In the arbitrator's exclusive discretion, the final Award of the arbitrator may, but need not be, accompanied by separate findings of fact or conclusions of law."

See Arbitration Agreement, at ¶¶ 3, 14.

The parties agreed to proceed to arbitration in Atlanta, Georgia, and selected Harry L. Griffin, Jr., Esquire ("Arbitrator") of Atlanta as the arbitrator.

On June 18, 2002, the Court granted a consent Motion to Stay Proceedings pending arbitration.

On January 13, 2006, the parties amended the Arbitration Agreement to provide for "baseball-style arbitration" in the event that a "mutually agreed resolution of all claims" was not reached by midnight on January 26, 2006. Relevant portions of the Amendment are as follows:

* The parties agreed that Harry L. Griffin, Jr., would serve as both mediator and arbitrator ...


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