Savers Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co., No. 13-2289 (6th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
A contract for reinsurance between National and Meadowbrook required both parties to submit any reinsurance disputes to a three-member arbitration panel to be comprised of “two arbitrators and an umpire” who were “active or retired disinterested officials of the insurance or reinsurance companies, or Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London, not under the control of either party.” After Meadowbrook initiated arbitration, National named Rosen and Meadowbrook named Schlaybaugh as arbitrators. They deadlocked in selecting an umpire, exchanged slates of candidates, and chose Greene, who disclosed that he was a personal friend of Rosen and that both were members of the reinsurance industry group The panel adopted orders that, “Ex parte communications with any member of the Panel shall cease upon the filing of the parties’ initial pre-hearing briefs.” The panel issued a unanimous Interim Final Award, resolving issues of liability in favor of National, but did not calculate a final damages award at that time. Rosen resumed ex parte communications and National disclosed those communications. After the panel rejected Meadowbrook’s submissions concerning damages, Meadowbrook claimed that it had disenfranchised Schlaybaugh. National claimed that a swift decision was needed, that Schlaybaugh was on vacation and could not be reached, and that his participation would have made no difference. The district court enjoined proceedings. The Sixth Circuit reversed, noting that judicial review of arbitral decisions is narrow and deferential.