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Lawson-Jackson v. Rosenhaus

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 12, 2017

EDITH LAWSON-JACKSON, Petitioner,
v.
DREW ROSENHAUS, JASON ROSENHAUS and ROSENHAUS SPORTS, Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          THEODORE D. CHUANG United States District Judge.

         Petitioner Edith Lawson-Jackson has filed a Petition to Vacate Arbitration Award seeking to vacate an arbitration award rendered in favor of Respondents Drew Rosenhaus, Jason Rosenhaus, and Rosenhaus Sports. Pending before the Court is Respondents' Motion to Dismiss Amended Petition to Vacate Arbitration Award, ECF No. 13, which argues that the Petition should be dismissed as untimely under the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"), 9 U.S.C. §§ 1-16 (2012). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is GRANTED.

         Lawson-Jackson is a licensed and certified contract advisor for the National Football League Players Association ("NFLPA"). Respondents Drew Rosenhaus and Jason Rosenhaus are certified NFLPA Agents and principals of Respondent Rosenhaus Sports Representation.

         On December 30, 2013, Shaquil Barrett, a linebacker for the Denver Broncos, executed a contract by which he hired Lawson-Jackson and her business partner to represent him. On or about November 14, 2015, after Lawson-Jackson had already negotiated with the Broncos for a three-year contract for Barrett, she learned that Respondents had initiated contact with Barrett with the intent to have him switch agents and employ them, even though they knew that Barrett was being represented by an NFLPA certified agent. Despite Barrett's initial lack of interest, Respondents persisted, eventually offering Barrett $ 75, 000 to change his representation. On November 20, 2015, Barrett emailed Lawson-Jackson and her business partner to terminate their representation of him.

         In January 2016, Lawson-Jackson filed for arbitration of the issues whether Drew Rosenhaus violated the NFLPA Regulations Governing Contract Advisors and, if so, what the appropriate remedy would be. On April 7, 2016, Lawson-Jackson filed a motion for recusal of the arbitrator appointed to the case, Roger Kaplan, alleging that he had an undisclosed "continuing financial stake" in Respondents' non-NFLPA "employment disputes, " which created a "reasonable impression of partiality." Arbitration Op. at 3-4, Am. Pet. Ex. 1, ECF No. 7-1. Four days later, Kaplan denied the motion, stating that he could and would handle the case impartially. On September 20, 2016, Kaplan issued an arbitration award in which he concluded that Drew Rosenhaus did not violate NFLPA regulations and denied the grievance.

         On December 20, 2016, Lawson-Jackson filed a Petition to Vacate Arbitration Award in this Court, which she then amended on March 3, 2017. In her Petition, Lawson-Jackson argues that the arbitration award should be vacated for three reasons: (1) Kaplan displayed evident partiality; (2) Kaplan exceeded his powers as an arbitrator; and (3) Lawson-Jackson was not afforded due process. The Clerk issued a summons for each Respondent on December 21, 2016, but Lawson-Jackson, to date, has not filed proof of service with the Court. Respondents then filed their unopposed Motion to Dismiss Amended Petition to Vacate Arbitration Award, in which they assert that they were served on March 8, 2017.

         In their Motion, Respondents argue that the Petition should be dismissed because they were not timely served pursuant to the FAA. The FAA outlines the process for petitioners to move to confirm, vacate, or amend arbitration awards and sets forth limitations periods for doing so. Lawson-Jackson brought her Petition to Vacate under the § 10 of the FAA, which provides that:

(a) In any of the following cases the United States court in and for the district wherein the award was made may make an order vacating the award upon the application of any party to the arbitration-
(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 by which the rights of any party have been prejudiced; or
(4) where the arbitrators exceeded their powers, or so imperfectly executed them that a mutual, final, and definite award upon the subject matter submitted was not made.

9 U.S.C.§ 10.

         Significantly, the FAA specifies a three-month deadline for a party to the arbitration to move to vacate an arbitration award and ...


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