A Texas appeals court has reversed a trial court’s orders compelling post-arbitration discovery designed to obtain evidence regarding ostensible conflicts of the arbitrator. During the arbitration, a party objected to the arbitrator’s continued service on the ground that decades previously he attended law school and served on the law review with one of the opposing firm’s attorneys and that the arbitrator’s son played recreational basketball with another attorney involved in the matter. The American Arbitration Association, which was administering the arbitration, followed its protocols and determined that these matters did not constitute a disqualifying conflict.
After the arbitrator issued his award, the party raising the conflict moved to vacate and prevailed upon the trial court to authorize limited discovery. The appellate court reversed holding that the connections claimed as conflicting “are distant, trivial, and attenuated, and they are immaterial because they would not create in an objective observer a reasonable impression of the arbitrator’s partiality.”