Nassau County initiated a CPLR Article 75 action in Supreme Court in an effort to have the court vacate a contract disciplinary grievance arbitration award won by the Nassau County Investigators Police Benevolent Association, Inc. [PBA]. Nassau contended that the arbitration award "... was irrational, exceeded the arbitrator's powers, and violated public policy."
Supreme Court agreed with the County and denied PBA's petition seeking to confirm the arbitrator's award. The court then remitted the matter for a rehearing and determination before a different arbitrator. PBA appealed Supreme Court's ruling to the Appellate Division.
Citing Wien & Malkin LLP v Helmsley-Spear, Inc., 6 NY3d 471and other decisions, the Appellate Division explained that judicial review of arbitration awards is extremely limited, and an arbitration award may be vacated by a court only in the event "an arbitrator exceeds his or her power" and arbitrators exceed their power only in the event the award issued "violates a strong public policy, is irrational, or clearly exceeds a specifically enumerated limitation on the arbitrator's power".
Here, said the Appellate Division, Supreme Court properly granted Nassau County's petition to vacate the arbitration award and properly denied the PBA's cross petition to confirm the award upon the court's finding that that the award was irrational and the arbitrator clearly exceeded a specifically enumerated limitation on his power.
The relevant Collective Bargaining Agreement [CBA] provided that the arbitrator had no authority to modify the CBA and that the arbitrator "shall onlydecide whether misconduct or incompetence existed and, if so, the appropriate penalty permitted by [the CBA]" [emphasis in the Appellate Division's decision].
The court then explained that "[u]pon vacating an arbitration award, 'the court may order a rehearing and determination of all or any of the issues either before the same arbitrator or before a new arbitrator' [and that] It is within the court's discretion to remit an arbitration matter to the same or a different arbitrator."
Rejecting the PBA's contention to the contrary, the Appellate Division opined that "the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion" in remitting the arbitration for a hearing before a different arbitrator, citing Matter of O'Flynn [Monroe County Deputy Sheriffs' Assn., Inc.], 141 AD3d at 1099].
Click HEREto access the Appellate Division's decision posted on the Internet.