United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
OWEN BOWDRE, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the court on pro se Plaintiff
Tiffiney Brittingham's motion to vacate the arbitration
award entered in favor of Defendant Comcast, Inc., and
Comcast's petition to confirm that arbitration award.
(Docs. 41 and 43, respectively). For the following reasons,
the court will confirm the arbitration award.
Brittingham brought wrongful termination and sexual
harassment claims against her previous employer, Comcast, and
her previous supervisor at Comcast, Defendant Ronald Wilson.
(See Doc. 1). On August 6, 2018, the court
instructed Ms. Brittingham to pursue binding arbitration of
her claims as required by her employee agreement with
Comcast. (Doc. 27).
January 4, 2019, Ms. Brittingham submitted her claims to the
American Arbitration Association. (Doc. 32). Ms. Brittingham
objected to the first two arbitrators that the AAA appointed
because she conclusorily alleged that they were not impartial
and had unspecified connections to Comcast. Both arbitrators
then recused themselves. On January 16, 2019, the AAA
appointed a third arbitrator, Daniel J. Thompson, and Ms.
Brittingham did “not have any objections” to this
third appointment. (Doc. 43-3 at 1).
January 29, 2019, the parties participated in a case
management conference call with the Arbitrator. Ms.
Brittingham confirmed during the call that she brought claims
for sexual harassment under Title VII and wrongful
termination under Alabama law. She also clarified that she
did not bring any retaliation claims against either
defendant. Also, the Arbitrator and the parties agreed on an
April 15, 2019 dispositive motions deadline. The Arbitrator
documented these points in his Case Management Order dated
January 29, 2019. (See Doc. 43-4).
February 6, 2019, the parties jointly submitted a proposed
revised Case Management Order that asked to reschedule the
Arbitration hearing from June 20 to May 1, 2019. The revised
Case Management Order also included revised pre-hearing
deadlines and an extended deadline for filing dipositive
motions. On February 8, 2019, the Arbitrator approved the
parties' revised Case Management Order. (See Doc
March 6, 2019, after the close of written discovery, counsel
for Comcast deposed Ms. Brittingham. On March 8, 2019, Ms.
Brittingham emailed the AAA case administrator stating that
she was “unable to participate in arbitration due to
mental stress and impairment, ” and requested that the
Arbitrator “make a decision on this case without a
telephone conference or an in-person hearing” and
“without presenting exhibits or witnesses.” (Doc.
43-10 at 6). On March 11, 2019, she renewed her request in a
strongly worded e-mail that stated, among other allegations,
that the defendants and the Arbitrator were engaged in email
tampering, that the case administrator ignored her mental
health needs, and that her “PRESENCE IN TRIAL WILL NOT
TURN OUT PEACEFULLY!” (Doc. 43-10 at 1-2) (emphasis in
March, 212019, Comcast submitted a motion for summary
disposition to the Arbitrator. (Doc. 43-5). On March 22,
2019, Ms. Brittingham submitted her response in opposition to
Comcast's motion. (Doc. 43-6). On April 2, 2019, the
Arbitrator found that Ms. Brittingham had failed to present
any factual evidence to support her claims against Comcast
and granted Comcast's motion for summary disposition.
(See Doc. 43-7).
same day that the Arbitrator entered his order, Ms.
Brittingham responded to the order in an email to
Comcast's counsel and the AAA pro se manager.
Ms. Brittingham started her email with, “[y]ou are all
a piece of s***!” (Doc. 43-9 at 1). She also declared
her intention to “take [her] case back to federal
court” where she alleged that Comcast would “tie
[her case] up for several more years” and “let
[its] white collar crimes show up.” (Id.). Ms.
Brittingham did not file a petition to the Arbitrator for a
correction, reconsideration, or vacatur of his order.
Ms. Brittingham filed a “Motion for Judge to
Intervene” with the court. (Doc. 33). The court denied
the motion. (See Doc. 39). The court found that,
based on what it could glean from the unclear motion, her
“Motion for Judge to Intervene” resembled a
motion to vacate the Arbitrator's order granting
Comcast's motion for summary disposition based on
allegations of fraud and corruption. But her motion did not
contain any facts about the arbitration that would allow the
court to understand the procedural posture of the
arbitration, much less find fraud or corruption by the
Arbitrator. So, the court instructed Ms. Brittingham, if she
so desired, to file a motion to vacate the Arbitrator's
decision supported by specific facts.
1, 2019, Ms. Brittingham filed her motion to vacate the
Arbitrator's order granting Comcast's motion for
summary disposition. (Doc. 41). Comcast then filed its
response and asked the court to confirm the Arbitrator's
order. (Doc. 43). The court proceeds with its review of the
arbitration award and Ms. Brittingham's allegations of
fraud and corruption.
Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. §§ 1-16, controls
the court's “very limited” review of an
arbitration award. Brown v. Rauscher Pierce Refsnes,
Inc., 994 F.2d 775, 778 (11th Cir. 1993). The Act
“imposes a heavy presumption in favor of confirming
arbitration awards.” Cat Charter, LLC v.
Schurtenberger, 646 F.3d 836, 842 (11th Cir. 2011)
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted). And the
court must confirm an arbitration award