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Tenet Healthsystem Philadelphia, Inc v. Francis Rooney

August 14, 2012

TENET HEALTHSYSTEM PHILADELPHIA, INC.,
MOVANT,
v.
FRANCIS ROONEY, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gene E.K. Pratter, J.

MEMORANDUM

I. INTRODUCTION

Tenet HealthSystem Philadelphia, Inc. ("Tenet") moves for an Order pursuant to Section 9 of the Federal Arbitration Act (the "FAA") confirming a Clause Construction Award issued by an arbitrator of the American Arbitration Association ("AAA") in connection with Respondent Francis Rooney's pending arbitration proceeding. Mr. Rooney cross-moves for an Order vacating the Arbitrator's April 12, 2012 order denying Mr. Rooney's motion to overturn the Clause Construction Award. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants Tenet's motion and denies Mr. Rooney's motion.

II. BACKGROUND

Mr. Rooney works as a nurse at the Tenet-owned St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, PA. As a condition of Mr. Rooney's employment, on two occasions he was required to sign an employee acknowledgment form in which he agreed that any claims that may arise from his employment will be submitted to Tenet's "Open Door Policy and Fair Treatment Process" ("FTP"), a multi-step dispute resolution program that culminates in arbitration governed by the FAA and rules of the AAA. See Pet. Mot. Exs. A-C.

In February 2010, Mr. Rooney commenced an arbitration proceeding before the AAA on his own behalf and on behalf of other Tenet employees alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations ("RICO") Act, and various state laws.

Tenet filed a motion requesting an interim award from the arbitrator ruling that the FTP did not permit Mr. Rooney's arbitration proceeding to continue unless on an individual basis. In January 2012, the arbitrator granted Tenet's motion finding that "[t]he arbitration clause in question does not permit the arbitration to proceed on behalf of a class." See Pet. Resp. Ex. C. Tenet then filed the instant motion under the FAA to confirm the arbitrator's Clause Construction Award.

In response to Tenet's Motion, Mr. Rooney filed a motion for a stay pending resolution by the arbitrator of his motion for reconsideration of her ruling that the collective action waiver in the FTP is enforceable (Doc. No. 2). In his motion for a stay, Mr. Rooney argued that the Court should refrain from deciding Tenet's Motion to Confirm because he intended to file a motion asking the arbitrator to reconsider the award. However, before the Court had the opportunity to rule on the motion to stay, counsel for Tenet informed the Court that on April 12, 2012, the arbitrator denied Mr. Rooney's motion to reconsider which formed the basis of his motion for a stay (Doc. No. 4). The Court then mooted Mr. Rooney's motion for a stay and ordered him to respond to Tenet's Motion to Confirm. In his response, Mr. Rooney cross-moved for an Order vacating the arbitrator's April 12, 2012 Order denying his motion to overturn the Award (Doc. No. 9).

III. DISCUSSION

Section 9 of the Federal Arbitration Act provides that "[i]f the parties in their agreement have agreed that a judgment of the court shall be entered upon the award made pursuant to the arbitration, and shall specify the court, then at any time within one year after the award is made any party to the arbitration may apply to the court so specified for an order confirming the award." 9 U.S.C. § 9. "[M]indful of the strong federal policy in favor of commercial arbitration, [Courts must] begin with the presumption that the award is enforceable," and must confirm the award unless grounds exist for vacating the award pursuant to Section 10 of the FAA. Sutter v. Oxford Health Plans LLC, 675 F.3d 215, 219 (3d Cir. 2012).

Section 10 of the FAA sets forth only four narrow grounds for vacating an arbitration award, including:

(1) where the award was procured by corruption, fraud, or undue means;

(2) where there was evident partiality or corruption in the arbitrators, or either of them;

(3) where the arbitrators were guilty of misconduct in refusing to postpone the hearing, upon sufficient cause shown, or in refusing to hear evidence pertinent and material to the controversy; or of any other misbehavior ...


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