Even the name of the case–Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co LLC v. Permanent Easement For 2.59 Acres, Temporary Easements For 5.45 Acres And Temporary Access Easement For 2.12 Acres In Pine Grove Township, Schuylkill County, Pa, Tax Parcel Number 21-04-0016.000 361, Chapel Drive, Pine Grove, Pine Grove Township, Schuylkill County Pa.–tells the reader that this Third Circuit opinion is not your everyday decision.
The case started normally enough. Having received authorization to construct a natural gas pipeline, plaintiff Transco brought a condemnation action to obtain a right of way over property owned by Ryan Regec. Mr. Regec, appearing pro se, vigorously resisted. “Initially, he filed in the District Court applications for relief that, in the main, questioned the premise of virtually every aspect of the proceedings. … Regec argued that the presiding District Judge was not properly appointed, that Transco’s attorneys lack contractual authority to prosecute the case on behalf of Transco, that discovery requests directed at Regec were improper as a rule, and that federal district courts in general are not valid tribunals.”
The lower court denied this “plethora of futile motions.” Undaunted, Mr. Regec submitted “a new crop of filings,” including “a document titled ‘Bond,’ in which he questioned the legitimacy of currently circulated money.”
But what does this have to do with arbitration? you ask. Allow the Third Circuit to explain:
“[O]ne of the [Regec’s] filings … included a copy of a ‘foreign final judgment via arbitration award’ (the arbitration award)… apparently issued by a Bakersfield, California organization called the ‘Healing My People Arbitration Association.’ The arbitration award, featuring both a style and legal philosophy strikingly similar to Regec’s myriad filings in the District Court, describes an alleged breach by Transco of a ‘contract’ it entered into with Regec via ‘tacit acquiescence.’ The arbitrator—Robert Presley, the self-described ‘Director’ of the Healing My People Arbitration Association—awarded Regec approximately fifty-five million dollars. Transco did not participate in the arbitration. Arbitrator Presley mailed a copy of the arbitration award, not to Transco’s counsel of record in this case, but to Transco’s office in Texas.”
Unsurprisingly, the lower court granted Transco’s motion to vacate the “award” and, even less surprisingly, the Third Circuit affirmed, playing it straighter than perhaps the circumstances warranted. As the court held, “there is no discernable agreement between the parties to arbitrate the dispute described by Regec. And without an arbitration agreement, Arbitrator Presley was without power to act.”
The appellate opinion providing parting words: “We commend the District Court on its able and patient sifting through Regec’s numerous filings, the bulk of which consisted of nothing more than a patchwork of legal precepts that were not germane to the issues of the day.”