Prescott v. Northlake Christian School
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently vacated an order of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana which had confirmed an arbitration award. The Appellate Court remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the language of the mediation/arbitration clause in an addendum to an employment contract between the plaintiff, a newly hired school principal, and the defendant, a religious elementary school, was ambiguous regarding the partiesí intention to expand the scope of the courtís power to review arbitration awards rendered pursuant to the contract.
DMC Rating Category: Developed
Case note contributed by Brian Tretter, an attorney with Healy & Baillie, LLP, in New York. Healy & Baillie are the International Contributors to the website for the USA
In the spring of 2000, NCS informed the plaintiff that her contract would not be renewed for the following school year. The plaintiff filed suit in the Eastern District of Louisiana alleging, amongst others, gender discrimination, breach of contract, and wrongful termination. The District Court, on NCSís motion, stayed the suit pending mediation and arbitration. After mediation failed, an arbitrator issued an award in favor of the plaintiff pursuant to ICC rules, citing various biblical passages in support of the award.
NCS moved to vacate (set aside) the award on substantive grounds arguing that the handwritten amendments to the arbitration agreement expanded the federal courtís scope of review of the award. The district court held that the "if any" language merely preserved the partiesí statutory appellate rights under the MUAA, which are very narrow.
These Case Notes have been prepared with care, but neither the Editor nor the International and other Contributors can guarantee that they are free from error, nor that they contain every pertinent point. Reliance should not therefore be placed upon them without independent verification. The Editor and the International and other Contributors disclaim all liability for any loss of whatsoever nature and howsoever arising as a result of others acting or refraining from acting in reliance on the contents of this website and the information to which it gives access. The Editor claims copyright in the content of the website.