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An arbitrator’s prior relationship with one of the parties in an employment dispute has prompted a Texas appeals court to throw out an award involving a former Halliburton Co. subsidiary. Reversing a trial court that affirmed the award, the Court of Appeals of Texas in Dallas found on Jan. 10 that Scott Rosuck, an attorney in Carrollton, Texas, serving as an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association, failed to disclose that he had presided over an arbitration case with the subsidiary’s same representative six years before. “Rosuck was specifically required to disclose if any party representative had appeared before him in past arbitration cases,” the court found. Rosuck did not respond to requests for comment. The court found that Rosuck’s conduct created a reasonable impression of partiality. The decision stemmed from a discrimination claim brought by Mohammad Alim against Kellogg, Brown & Root, a refinery engineering and construction firm. Now KBR Inc., the firm ceased being a Halliburton subsidiary in 2007. Alim made his claim subject to the company’s binding arbitration clause. Rosuck said before the arbitration that he had “come across” a representative of the company, Dean Graves, and its attorney, Julie Ungerman. He swore under oath that none of the parties had appeared before him and that he had conducted a conflicts check. “[T]hat check appears to be nothing more than an exercise he conducted from memory,” the court found. Following the arbitration, Alim opposed the company’s motion to confirm the award in court. The amount of the award was not disclosed in the appeals court decision. The company argued that Alim had waived any objections by not raising the issue when Rosuck reported that he had encountered Graves and Ungerman. The court was not persuaded by that argument. “Rosuck’s innocuous comment at the beginning of the hearing that he had ‘come across’ Graves in the past does not establish that Alim had knowledge of the undisclosed facts sufficient to support a finding that Alim intentionally waived his right to object to Rosuck or acted inconsistently with claiming that right,” the court wrote. Writing the opinion of the court was Justice Jim Moseley. Justices Kerry Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Lang also were on the panel. Leigh Jones can be contacted at [email protected].  

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