Court’s role in reviewing an arbitration award limited when the parties have agreed to submit the matter to arbitration

Court’s role in reviewing an arbitration award limited when the parties have agreed to submit the matter to arbitration
Arbitration between Albany Police Supervisor's Assn. and the City of Albany, 2012 NY Slip Op 03704, Appellate Division, Third Department

The Appellate Division affirmed a ruling by Supreme Court denying the Albany Police Supervisor’s Association’s CPLR Article 75 application to vacate an arbitration award and confirmed the award.

A member of the negotiating unit represented by the Association was served with disciplinary charges that eventually resulted in the termination of the member’s employment with the Albany Police Department.

Essentially the member was charged with allegedly failing to inform and misled superior officers about what had transpired with respect to an incident involving another Albany Police Department police officer. The arbitrator found the member guilty of nine of the 14 charges filed against him and concluded that his termination was the appropriate penalty.

In affirming the arbitration award the Appellate Division noted that "In circumstances when the parties agree to submit their dispute to an arbitrator, courts generally play a limited role," citing New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Assn. v State of New York, 94 NY2d 321 wherein the Court of Appeals said that "[A]n arbitrator's award should not be vacated for errors of law and fact committed by the arbitrator and the courts should not assume the role of overseers to mold the award to conform to their sense of justice."*

Here, said the court, the arbitrator's findings that member was untruthful when questioned by a superior officer concerning the event is supported by the record and did not result from the arbitrator grossly expanding the charges or other arbitral misconduct.

As to the penalty imposed, dismissal, the Appellate Division rejected the Association’s argument that the penalty was so disproportionate as to constitute arbitral misconduct as "unpersuasive.”

* A court may vacate an arbitration award only if it violates a strong public policy, is irrational, or clearly exceeds a specifically enumerated limitation on the arbitrator's power" (Matter of Falzone [New York Cent. Mut. Fire Ins. Co.], 15 NY3d 530

The decision is posted on the Internet at: