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Alliance Platforms, Inc. v. Behrens

Court of Appeals of Kansas

June 14, 2013

ALLIANCE PLATFORMS, INC., Appellee,
v.
Brian BEHRENS, et al., Defendants, (Moxy Solutions, LLC), Appellant.

Page 31

Syllabus by the Court

1. When a district court vacates an arbitrator's award based on its interpretation of the contract that initially compelled the arbitration, we review the decision de novo.

2. A broad arbitration clause in a contract gives the arbitrator an expansive scope of authority to decide the issues involved in a case, and any doubts concerning the scope of the arbitration provision should be resolved in favor of arbitration.

3. A reviewing court must respect that the parties to an arbitration agreement contractually agreed to be bound by an arbitrator's decision.

4. Reviewing courts presume that an arbitrator's decision is valid. Even errors of law or fact are generally insufficient to overturn the decision unless the arbitrator acted in bad faith or took actions so unreasonable as to amount to affirmative misconduct.

5. Only in extraordinary circumstances is an arbitrator's interpretation of a contract so irrational or unreasonable as to be a sufficient basis to vacate an award.

6. Where both parties are afforded partial relief, an arbitrator has not exceeded his or her power and discretion in concluding that neither party is entitled to attorney fees under a contractual prevailing party provision.

Neil L. Johnson and Sharon A. Stallbaumer, of Berkowitz Oliver Williams Shaw & Eisenbrandt, LLP, of Kansas City, Missouri, for appellant.

Lewis M. Galloway, of LG Law LLC, of Kansas City, Missouri, for appellee.

Page 32

Before BRUNS, P.J., GREEN and BUSER, JJ.

BRUNS, P.J.

This appeal arises out of a Services Agreement entered into by Alliance Platforms, Inc. (Alliance) and Moxy Solutions, [49 Kan.App.2d 54] LLC (Moxy). Alliance sued Moxy and several other defendants in Johnson County District Court. In response, Moxy filed a counterclaim and successfully sought to compel arbitration under the terms of the Services Agreement. At the conclusion of the arbitration, the arbitrator found that neither Alliance nor Moxy were entitled to attorney fees under the " prevailing party" provision of the Services Agreement. Although the district court confirmed the arbitrator's award regarding the substantive claims asserted by the parties, it vacated the arbitrator's decision on attorney fees. Specifically, the district court found that Alliance was the prevailing party in the arbitration and remanded the matter to the arbitrator for a determination of the amount of attorney fees to be awarded. On appeal, we conclude that the district court erred in finding that the arbitrator exceeded his power when he determined that ...


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