Many arbitration agreements address the finality of any resulting award, with differing and sometimes vague language. A number of readers might assume that regardless of the agreement language, federal courts still retain jurisdiction to review awards under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 10 (FAA). As a recent Fourth Circuit opinion reveals, the interpretation is a bit more complex than that.
In Beckley Oncology Associates, Inc. v. Abumasmah, No. 19-1751 (4th Cir., April 8, 2021), Judge Albert Diaz wrote an opinion exploring the validity of language in an employment agreement Dr. Rami Abumasmah had with Beckley Oncology Associates (BOA), which stated that an arbitrator’s award “shall be final and conclusive and enforceable in any court of competent jurisdiction without any right of judicial review or appeal” (emphasis in opinion). The employment agreement also had a severability clause stating that the invalidity of any agreement provision “shall not in any way affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision.” Continue Reading