When litigants attempt to vacate arbitration awards, they usually don’t get much help from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Yet the court recently ruled that two defendant corporate officers were not individually bound by arbitration agreements and overturned the awards against them.

The Aug. 4 decision in DK Joint Venture 1, et al. v. Richard W. Weyand, et al. is a departure for the appeals court, which has been hostile to arbitration vacatur attempts in the past. For example, in 2009′s Citigroup Global Markets Inc. v. Bacon , the court ruled that arbitrators’ manifest disregard of the law was not a ground for vacatur. And in 2007′s Positive Software Solutions Inc. v. New Century Mortgage Corp., et al., the 5th Circuit, sitting en banc, reversed a three-judge panel decision that had affirmed a U.S. District Court ruling vacating an arbitration award. The en banc court found that the “mere appearance” of an arbitrator’s bias was not a sufficient reason for vacatur.

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