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United States for Use and Benefit of Metropower Inc. v. GSC Construction Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

June 26, 2019

UNITED STATES FOR THE USE AND BENEFIT OF METROPOWER, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
GSC CONSTRUCTION, INC. AND DARWIN NATIONAL ASSURANCE COMPANY D/B/A ALLIED WORLD INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants.

          ORDER

          MARC T. TREADWELL, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Defendants GSC Construction, Inc. (“GSC”) and Allied World Insurance Company (“Allied World, ” formerly known as Darwin National Assurance Company) have moved to vacate the arbitration award entered against them on February 19, 2019. Doc. 21. In turn, Plaintiff MetroPower, Inc. moved to confirm the arbitration award and for entry of judgment against the Defendants, jointly and severally, in the amount of $100, 377.49. Doc. 25. For the following reasons, the motion to vacate (Doc. 21) is DENIED and the motion to confirm and for entry of judgment (Doc. 25) is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This matter arises from a renovation project of Hangar Dock Building 54 at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia (“the Project”). The United States Army Corps of Engineers was the owner of the Project, GSC was the general contractor, and MetroPower subcontracted with GSC to provide labor, material equipment, and other services to complete the Project. See generally Doc. 1. Allied World was GSC's surety under a payment bond issued for the Project. See generally id.

         On January 5, 2018, MetroPower brought suit against the Defendants, alleging, among other things, that GSC breached its contractual obligation by failing to pay MetroPower all amounts due under the contract and that Allied World, as GSC's surety pursuant to a Miller Act payment bond, is liable for GSC's nonpayment. See generally Id. After responding to the complaint, GSC moved to stay the case pending mediation and arbitration and moved to transfer the case to the Southern District of Georgia. Doc. 13. The motion to stay was granted in part and the motion to transfer was denied. Doc. 19. Accordingly, pursuant to the contract, the parties conducted mediation and arbitration in Augusta, Georgia.

         On February 15, 2019, after considering the pleadings, testimonial and documentary evidence, and the parties' arguments, the arbitrator awarded MetroPower $100, 377.49 for which the Defendants are jointly and severally liable to pay. Doc. 24-1 at 2.

         II. DISCUSSION

         As an initial matter, the Court assumes, as the parties do, that the Georgia Arbitration Code, O.C.G.A. § 9-9-1 et seq., is the governing statute.[1] “The Arbitration Code demands that courts give extraordinary deference to the arbitration process and awards.” Brookfield Country Club, Inc. v. St. James-Brookfield, LLC, 287 Ga. 408, 411, 696 S.E.2d 663, 666 (2010) (quotation marks and citation omitted). Therefore, to not “frustrate the legislative purpose of avoiding litigation by resort to arbitration, ” courts are “severely limited” in vacating an arbitration award.[2] Id. (quotation marks and citation omitted). Specifically, the Code provides five grounds for vacating an arbitration award:

(1) Corruption, fraud, or misconduct in procuring the award;
(2) Partiality of an arbitrator appointed as a neutral;
(3) An overstepping by the arbitrators of their authority or such imperfect execution of it that a final and definite award upon the subject matter submitted was not made;
(4) A failure to follow the procedure of this part, unless the party applying to vacate the award continued with the arbitration with notice of this failure and without objection; or
(5) The arbitrator's manifest disregard of the law.

O.C.G.A. § 9-9-13(b). The burden is on the party challenging the arbitration award to demonstrate the existence of a statutory ground for vacatur.[3]Greene v. Hundley, 266 Ga. 592, 596 n.24, 468 S.E.2d 350, 353 n.24 (1996). “The court shall confirm an award upon application of a party made within one year after its delivery to him, unless the award is ...


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