United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. GRIMM, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Integrity National Corporation Inc. (“Integrity”)
filed suit against Defendant DSS Services, Inc.
(“DSS”), seeking confirmation of a December 15,
2016 arbitration award. See Compl., ECF No. 1; Mot.
to Confirm Arbitration Award, ECF No. 26. Because DSS did not
file its Motion to Vacate, ECF No. 27, until it filed its
opposition to Integrity's Motion to Confirm Arbitration
Award, by which time DSS's motion was time barred, and
that, in any event, it failed to prove any recognized basis
for vacating the award, I must deny DSS's Motion to
Vacate and grant Integrity's Motion to Confirm.
parties entered into a joint venture agreement in 2014 to
seek a contract to perform custodial services at Fort Belvoir
in Virginia. Jt. Venture Agr. § 1, ECF No. 27-2. They
then entered into a Teaming Agreement
(“Agreement”) on August 26, 2014, under which DDS
would be the prime contractor and Integrity would be the
subcontractor for custodial and related services to be
performed at Fort Belvoir. Agr. ¶¶ 5, 16 &
Addendum 1, ECF No. 21-7. They agreed that DDS would receive
51% of any gross profits, and Integrity would receive 49% of
any gross profits. Id. Addendum 1. The Agreement
also provided for arbitration in Maryland, under Maryland
law, of “any and all controversies that may arise by,
through or about th[e] Agreement, except for controversies
that may arise by, through or about Confidential information
in paragraph 13.” Id. ¶ 12
to Integrity, on or about February 25, 2015, DSS obtained a
government contract to supply janitorial services at Fort
Belvoir's Child Development Center; Integrity, as the
subcontractor, provided management support and technical
advice. Pl.'s Mem. 2. But, Integrity claims, on or about
March 4, 2016, DDS stopped honoring the Agreement with regard
to the contract for services at Fort Belvoir's Child
Development Center. Id. at 3. On that basis,
Integrity filed an arbitration demand with the American
Arbitration Association. Id.
arbitrator held a hearing on November 30, 2016; DDS did not
participate. Award, ECF No. 1-1. Finding that DDS breached
the Agreement, the arbitrator issued an award
(“Award”) in favor of Integrity on December 15,
2016, awarding damages of $477, 698.28 against DDS.
DDS failed to pay the damages by January 14, 2017, as ordered
in the Award, see id., Integrity filed suit on
January 18, 2017 to confirm the Award. Compl., ECF No. 1. I
issued a Letter Order Regarding the Filing of Motions on
January 23, 2017. ECF No. 4. It provided:
In order to promote the just, speedy, and inexpensive
resolution of this case, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 1, the
following procedure will be followed with respect to the
filing of substantive motions (such as
motions to dismiss, to amend the pleadings, or case
dispositive motions) . . . . Any party wishing to file a
motion first will serve on all parties and file with the
Court a letter (not to exceed three pages, single spaced)
containing a brief description of the planned motion and a
concise summary of the factual and legal support for it.
Unless I notify you otherwise, no response to the letter
should be filed. I will review the letter and determine
whether to schedule an expedited telephone conference
(usually within a week) to discuss the requested motion and
to determine whether the issues may be resolved or otherwise
addressed without the need for formal briefing. Where it
would be more efficient simply to approve the request to file
the motion, I will issue an order directing that the motion
may be filed.
. . . . If the letter described above is filed within the
time allowed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Local
Rules of Court, or any order issued by me in which to file
the motion that the letter addresses, the time for filing the
motion will be tolled to permit the scheduling of the
telephone conference without the need to request an extension
this Order, Integrity filed its Motion to Confirm Arbitration
Award and Memorandum in Support on March 16, 2017, without
first filing a letter describing the motion. ECF Nos. 12, 13.
The Clerk's Office issued a “QC Notice” that
stated: “**ECF 12 and 13 have been stricken from the
record pursuant to Chambers directive for failure to comply
with the Pre-Motion Conference Letter, ECF 4 . It has been
noted as FILED IN ERROR, and the document link has been
disabled.” ECF No. 14.
Integrity filed its pre-motion conference request, ECF No.
15, and on a conference call with regard to the proposed
motion, I determined that, given that DDS's Answer, ECF
No. 9, raised an affirmative defense that Integrity's
counsel has a conflict of interest, it would be more
efficient to address that issue before Integrity filed its
motion. ECF No. 20. The parties briefed the issue, ECF Nos.
21, 22, 24, and I issued an order denying DDS's Motion to
Disqualify Counsel. ECF No. 25. Integrity filed its Motion to
Confirm Arbitration Award and Memorandum in Support, ECF Nos.
26 and 26-1, the next day, June 30, 2017. DDS filed its
Opposition, which included a Motion to Vacate, ECF No. 27,
along with a Memorandum in Support, ECF No. 27-1, on July 14,
2017, without first filing a letter pursuant to the Letter
Order Regarding the Filing of Motions. Integrity filed a
Reply, ECF No. 28. A hearing is not necessary. See
Loc. R. 105.6.
parties seek relief pertaining to an arbitration award issued
in Integrity's favor, with Integrity seeking to enforce
it while DSS seeks to vacate it. There is an “emphatic
federal policy in favor of arbitral dispute
resolution.” Fakhri v. Marriot Int'l Hotels,
Inc., 201 F.Supp.3d 696, 709-10 (D. Md. 2016) (quoting
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth,
Inc., 473 U.S. 614, 631 (1985); citing, e.g., ESAB
Grp., Inc. v. Zurich Ins. PLC, 685 F.3d 376, 390 (4th
Cir. 2012)), appeal dismissed, No. 16-2061, 2016 WL
9724329 (4th Cir. Oct. 21, 2016). Consequently,
“[j]udicial review of an arbitration award in federal
court is ‘substantially circumscribed.'”
Three S Del., Inc. v. DataQuick Info. Sys., Inc.,
492 F.3d 520, 527 (4th Cir. 2007) (quoting Patten v.
Signator Ins. Agency, Inc., 441 F.3d 230, 234 (4th Cir.
2006)). Indeed, given that “full scrutiny of such
awards would frustrate the purpose of having arbitration at
all- the quick resolution of disputes and ...