IN RE: Lee A. GOLDBERG

Reset A A Font size: Print

Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York.

IN RE: Lee A. GOLDBERG, Petitioner-Respondent, v. THELEN REID BROWN RAYSMAN & STEINER LLP, et al., Respondents-Appellants.

Decided: June 24, 2008

LIPPMAN, P.J., TOM, GONZALEZ, BUCKLEY, CATTERSON, JJ. Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner LLP, New York (John C. Ohman of counsel), for appellants. Jeffrey A. Jannuzzo, New York, for respondent.

Order and judgment (one paper), Supreme Court, New York County (Bernard J. Fried, J.), entered October 17, 2007, which granted the petition to confirm an arbitration award and awarded petitioner the principal amount of $453,468.62, plus interest, costs and disbursements, unanimously affirmed, with costs.

 The arbitration award was properly confirmed as it did not violate a strong public policy, was not irrational, and did not exceed the arbitrator's authority (see Matter of Board of Educ. of Arlington Cent. School Dist. v. Arlington Teachers Assn., 78 N.Y.2d 33, 37, 571 N.Y.S.2d 425, 574 N.E.2d 1031 [1991];  CPLR 7511[b] ).  Indeed, the arbitrator offered a well-reasoned justification for his interpretation of the parties' agreement, and there exists no basis for vacatur thereof (see Matter of New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Assn. v. State of New York, 94 N.Y.2d 321, 326, 704 N.Y.S.2d 910, 726 N.E.2d 462 [1999] ).   As for the award of counsel fees to petitioner, it was respondents that first sought such fees in their counterclaim, and mutual demands for counsel fees in an arbitration proceeding constitute, in effect, an agreement to submit the issue to arbitration, with the resultant award being valid and enforceable (see Matter of Warner Bros. Records (PPX Enters.), 7 A.D.3d 330, 776 N.Y.S.2d 269 [2004];  compare Matter of Matza v. Oshman, Helfenstein & Matza, 33 A.D.3d 493, 494-495, 823 N.Y.S.2d 47 [2006] ). While respondents may have attempted to withdraw the request for attorneys' fees in connection with their counterclaim, there was no such attempt in connection with their defense of the arbitration proceeding.