United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Martinsburg
CHRISTINA M. VOGT, Plaintiff,
AMERICAN ARBITRATION ASSOCIATION, INC., Defendant.
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
M. GROH CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is a Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”) issued by United States Magistrate
Judge Robert W. Trumble. ECF No. 7. Pursuant to this
Court's Local Rules, this action was referred to
Magistrate Judge Trumble for submission of an R&R. On
August 27, 2019, Magistrate Judge Trumble issued his R&R
recommending that this Court dismiss Plaintiff's
complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim.
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), this Court is required to
conduct a de novo review of those portions of the
magistrate judge's findings to which objection is made.
However, this Court is not required to review, under a de
novo or any other standard, the factual or legal
conclusions of the magistrate judge to which no objections
are made. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985).
Failure to file objections in a timely manner constitutes a
waiver of de novo review and a plaintiff's right
to appeal this Court's order. 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(C); Snyder v. Ridenour, 889 F.2d 1363,
1366 (4th Cir. 1989); United States v. Schronce, 727
F.2d 91, 94 (4th Cir. 1984). Moreover, “[w]hen a party
does make objections, but these objections are so general or
conclusory that they fail to direct the district court to any
specific error by the magistrate judge, de novo review is
unnecessary.” Green v. Rubenstein, 644
F.Supp.2d 723, 730 (S.D. W.Va. 2009) (citing Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982)).
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C) and Rule 72(b) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, objections to Magistrate
Judge Trumble's R&R were due within fourteen days
after being served with a copy of the same. The R&R was
sent to the Plaintiff by certified mail on August 27, 2019.
ECF No. 7. The Plaintiff filed her objections on September
10, 2019. ECF No. 9. Accordingly, the Court will review the
portions of the R&R to which the Plaintiff objects de
R&R, Magistrate Judge Trumble recommends that the
Plaintiff's complaint be dismissed with prejudice because
“arbitral immunity protects [Defendant] from liability
for the wrongful conduct alleged in this complaint.”
ECF No. 7 at 6. In her objections, the Plaintiff avers that
Defendant is not entitled to immunity because the arbitrator
was a “contracted employee, ” paid for by
Defendant. Id. at 13. The Plaintiff attempts to
distinguish case law cited in the R&R, Tamari v.
Conrad, 552 F.2d 778 (7th Cir. 1977), arguing that
“the arbitrator was cited as voluntary, not a paid
consultant, so this case may not necessarily apply.”
Id. Additionally, The Plaintiff alleges that the
Defendant had full knowledge of “[the] law-breaking by
the respondent and the arbitrator, ” and therefore the
Court “should render [Defendant] equally as responsible
as the arbitrator.” Id.
the Plaintiff's objections do not support rejecting the
R&R. First, “arbitrators in contractually agreed
upon arbitration proceedings are absolutely immune from
liability in damages for all acts within the scope of the
arbitral process.” Austern v. Chicago Bd. Options
Exch., Inc., 898 F.2d 882, 886 (2d Cir. 1990). Thus, the
Defendant's employment relationship with the arbitrator
is irrelevant in recognizing arbitral immunity. The Court in
Austern also noted that arbitral immunity extends to
organizations that sponsor arbitrations. Id. Based
on this principle, the Court finds that the Defendant is
entitled to arbitral immunity. See Gryder v. HCL Am.
Inc., No. 1:17-CV-1258, 2018 WL 4171439, at *2 (E.D. Va.
Aug. 30, 2018) (adopting the Austern principle and
finding that “the AAA can enjoy immunity as the sponsor
organization, the same as the arbitrator himself”).
Courts will preclude parties from claiming arbitral immunity
only under improper circumstances. See In re Nat'l
Arbitration Forum Trade Practices Litig., 704 F.Supp.2d
832, 836 (D. Minn. 2010) (finding that plaintiff's
“systemic, pervasive, and far-reaching allegations of
bias and corruption, rendering every single arbitration
performed by [the arbitration provider] suspect”
sufficiently precluded arbitral immunity). This is not the
case here. The Plaintiff's allegations of
“egregious bias” [ECF No. 9 at 10] are baseless
and do not warrant preclusion of arbitral immunity against
upon careful review, the Court ORDERS that
Magistrate Judge Trumble's Report and Recommendation [ECF
No. 7] is ADOPTED for the reasons more fully
stated therein. Accordingly, the Plaintiff's Complaint
[ECF No. 1] is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma
Pauperis [ECF No. 2] and Notice of Voluntary Dismissal
[ECF No. 10], as well as the Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim [ECF No. 11] are all
hereby DENIED AS MOOT.
Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to
STRIKE this case from the Court's active
Clerk is further DIRECTED to mail a copy of
this Order to the pro se Plaintiff by ...