United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
E. Payne, Senior United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court is PLAINTIFF'S AMENDED MOTION
TO CONFIRM ARBITRATION AWARD (ECF No. 25), LECLAIRRYAN'S
MOTION TO CORRECT AND VACATE PORTION OF ARBITRATION AWARD
(ECF No. 27), and LECLAIRRYAN'S MOTION TO SEAL
ARBITRATION AWARDS (ECF No. 29) . For the following reasons,
the arbitration panel's Revised Final Award (ECF No.
26-1) will be vacated, the case will be remanded to the
arbitration panel to properly apply the Supreme Court's
clear precedent on fee enhancements, and the Initial Final
Award (ECF No. 22-1) and the Revised Final Award (ECF No.
26-1) (collectively, the "Awards") will be
Burke Craddock ("Craddock") was a shareholder at
LeClairRyan, P.C. ("LeClairRyan"). She brought the
current action against LeClairRyan for sex-based employment
discrimination and retaliation in response to reporting that
discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964, of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and of the
Equal Pay Act. She alleged that LeClairRyan systemically
discriminates against women by failing to give them equal
compensation or the same promotion opportunities as men and
that LeClairRyan discriminated against her specifically by
not equally compensating or promoting her. See
generally Complaint (ECF No. 1).
previous MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER (ECF Nos. 14 and 15),
the Court denied Craddock's MOTION TO STAY ARBITRATION
(ECF No. 3) and granted LeClairRyan's MOTION TO DISMISS
AND TO COMPEL ARBITRATION (ECF No. 7) . Afterward, the United
States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit dismissed an
appeal of that decision for lack of appellate jurisdiction.
Per Curiam Opinion (ECF No. 18) .
parties proceeded to arbitration on Craddock's claims.
The arbitration hearing occurred from January 15, 2018 to
January 26, 2018, and the panel issued its interim award on
June 15, 2018. Following briefing on the issues of
attorney's fees and costs, the arbitration panel issued
the Initial Final Award (ECF No. 22-1) on September 28, 2018.
Initial Final Award, the arbitration panel held that Craddock
had not shown a violation of the Equal Pay Act; that
LeClairRyan intentionally discriminated against Craddock
based on her sex in her 2014 compensation, in violation of
Title VII; and that LeClairRyan did not intentionally
discriminate against Craddock in her 2015 compensation. The
panel awarded Craddock $274, 748.00 for LeClairRyan's
Title VII violation. Further, it held that Craddock suffered
emotional distress as a result of the intentional sex
discrimination in the amount of $20, 000. The panel also
awarded Craddock's attorney's fees in the amount of
$701, 076.41 plus interest at a rate of 6% from the date of
the Initial Final Award until the amount was paid in full. To
come to that amount, the arbitration panel said that: (1) the
lodestar analysis-which is determined by multiplying the
number of reasonable hours expended by the attorneys times a
reasonable rate-dictated an amount of $769, 050.50 in
attorneys' fees; (2) Craddock's attorneys' fees
should be reduced to $678, 899.50 because Craddock
unnecessarily pursued a deposition of a witness and
unsuccessfully tried to have her dispute determined in
federal court; (3) the attorneys' fees should be reduced
by a further 20% to $543, 099.60 due to their lack of success
on Craddock's Equal Pay Act claims and her Title VII
retaliation claim; and (4) an increase to the attorneys'
fee award of 25% to $701, 076.41 was appropriate due to
Craddock's attorneys' success.
filed PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO CONFIRM ARBITRATION AWARD
(ECF No. 21) . Afterward, the parties discovered certain
calculation errors in the final award that needed correction,
so Craddock filed a motion to correct the final award before
the arbitration panel and PLAINTIFF'S NOTICE OF PANEL
MOTION TO CORRECT FINAL AWARD (ECF No. 23) in this Court to
advise the Court of the potential change to the final award.
LeClairRyan joined Craddock's motion before the
arbitration panel, and it filed a motion with the arbitration
panel to modify the form of the final award so that some of
the factual and legal analysis of the arbitration panel
remained confidential. See generally
LECLAIRRYAN'S CONFIDENTIAL MOTION TO MODIFY FORM OF FINAL
AWARD (ECF No. 26-8).
October 18, 2018, the arbitration panel issued a unanimous
Revised Final Award (ECF No. 26-1), which awarded Craddock:
(1) damages in the sum of $274, 746.00 for backpay plus
interest at a rate of 6% from January 1, 2015 until payment;
(2) compensatory damages in the amount of $20, 000 plus
interest at a rate of 6% from January l, 2015 until payment;
(3) attorneys' fees in the sum of $678, 151.50 plus
interest at a rate of 6% from the date of the Revised Final
Award until payment; and (4) costs in the amount of $48,
492.64 plus interest at a rate of 6% from the date of the
Revised Final Award until payment. The panel also denied
LECLAIRRYAN'S CONFIDENTIAL MOTION TO MODIFY FORM OF FINAL
AWARD (ECF No. 26-8), thereby holding that the final award
would not be redacted or otherwise deemed confidential.
The Revised Final Award Shall Be Modified to Reflect the
first argument is that the arbitration panel's revised
award should be modified to correct certain calculations.
LeClairRyan alleges that, although the arbitration panel came
to the correct final mathematical calculation for
attorneys' fees ($678, 151.50) based on the approach used
(which LeClairRyan says was wrong), the arbitration
panel's calculations leading up to that final award were
incorrect. Specifically, the arbitration panel miscalculated
by stating: (1) $769, 050.50 minus $90, 899.00 equaled a
lodestar amount of $678, 899.50, rather than the correct
amount of $678, 151.50 (a difference of $748); (2) a 20%
reduction of the lodestar amount equaled $543, 099.60 instead
of $542, 521.20; and (3) a 25% increase of that reduced
lodestar amount equaled $701, 076.31.
argues that the parties have already addressed the issue with
the arbitration panel, that the parties have agreed to the
revised calculations and total award amounts, and that the
panel clearly adopted the parties revised calculations and
total award amounts in the Revised Final Award.
LECLAIRRYAN'S MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO SEAL
ARBITRATION AWARDS (ECF No. 30) at 3. LeClairRyan joined in
Craddock's previous motion to correct computational
errors. Id. at 4. But, Craddock acknowledges that
the panel did not correctly calculate the various equations
based on the arbitration panel's adjustments even though
it changed the backpay and attorney's fee awards.
U.S.C. § 11, a court "may make an order modifying
or correcting the award upon the application of any party to
the arbitration . . . [w]here there was an evident material
miscalculation of figures." Here, although the final
amount is correct, the arbitration panel's award contains
multiple miscalculations. The Court will order that the
above-stated calculations will be modified to the correct
amounts listed above, as to which there is no dispute.
The Arbitration Panel's Enhancement Manifestly
Disregarded Clear Supreme Court Precedent.
next argument is that the Revised Final Award (ECF No. 26-1)
should be vacated because the arbitration panel manifestly
disregarded the applicable law that controls an award of
attorney's fees. The Court holds that the Revised Final
Award must be vacated because the arbitration panel
disregarded clear Supreme Court precedent.
vacate a panel award for manifest disregard of the law, a
reviewing court must find" (1) the applicable legal
principle is clearly defined and not subject to reasonable
debate; and (2) the arbitrator refused to heed that legal
principle." Wachovia Sec., LLC v. Brand, 671
F.3d 472, 481 (4th Cir. 2012) (alteration in original)
(quoting Long John Silver's Rests., Inc. v.
Cole, 514 F.3d 345, 349-50 (4th Cir. 2008)). Because,
“[t]he scope of judicial review of an arbitration award
'is among the narrowest known at law, '" UBS
Fin. Servs., Inc. v. Padussis, 842 F.3d 336, 339 (4th
Cir. 2016) (quoting Apex Plumbing Supply, Inc. v. U.S.
Supply Co., Inc., 142 F.3d 188, 193 (4th Cir. 1998)),
proving manifest disregard requires something more than
"showing that the arbitrators misconstrued the law,
especially given that arbitrators are not required to explain
their reasoning." Brand, 671 F.3d at 481.
“[I]t is not an invitation to review the merits of the
underlying arbitration." Id. at 483. Nor is it
used to establish that an arbitrator either misconstrued or
misapplied the applicable law. Jones v. Dancel, 792
F.3d 3 95, 402 (4th Cir. 2015). The scope of review means
that a court "is limited to determine whether the
arbitrators did the job they were told to do-not whether they
did it well, or correctly, or reasonably, but simply whether
they did it." Three S Del., Inc. v. DataQuick Info.
Sys., Inc., 492 F.3d 520, 527 (4th Cir. 2007) (quoting
Remmey v. PaineWebber, Inc., 32 F.3d 143, 146 (4th
argues that this case presents an arbitration panel that has
manifestly disregarded the law because the panel enhanced
Craddock's attorney's fee by 25% when she lost on
multiple claims. The panel said,
In its analysis, the Panel looks to the [Johnson v.
Georgia Highway Express Inc., 488 F.2d 714 (5th Cir.
1974)] factors that relate to the skill required of the
attorneys who prosecuted this case, their opportunity costs
in pressing the instant litigation, and the undesirability of
this case within the legal community. Craddock chose to
prosecute gender discrimination claims against the law firm
where she was a female partner. Her case was unique,
presenting difficult challenges. A favorable outcome was not
at all certain. Craddock's success depended on securing
highly skilled and experienced counsel who were willing to
forgo other opportunities in order to represent her. A case
involving gender-based discrimination claims against a highly
competent law firm is clearly an undesirable undertaking
within the legal community.
Final Award (ECF No. 26-1) at 45. Considering these factors,
the arbitration panel found that Craddock's
attorneys' "appropriate degree of success
percentage" should include an ...