WHITE SPRINGS AGRICULTURAL CHEMICALS INC PCS GLAWSON INVESTMENTS CORP v. <<

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United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.

WHITE SPRINGS AGRICULTURAL CHEMICALS, INC., d.b.a. PCS Phosphate–White Springs, llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll Plaintiff—Appellant, versus GLAWSON INVESTMENTS CORP., individually and as successor to Bienville Forest Investments, Inc., llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll Defendant—Appellee.

No. 10–14532 _ D.C. Docket No. 3:07–cv–00752–HLA–JRK

Decided: October 17, 2011

Before MARCUS, WILSON, and HILL, Circuit Judges.   WILSON, Circuit Judge:  White Springs Agricultural Chemicals, Inc. (White Springs) appeals the district court's confirmation of an arbitration award in favor of Glawson Investments Corp. (Glawson).  White Springs challenges the grant of attorneys' fees, expert fees, and prejudgment interest and seeks to vacate or modify the arbitration award under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).   We conclude that the district court properly confirmed the award of fees and interest.   Although this case has ultimately become a challenge to the appropriateness of an arbitration panel's award, it stems from a property dispute between the parties.   White Springs operates phosphate mining, production, and processing facilities in Hamilton County, Florida.   Some of its mining activities take place beneath land owned by Glawson, which conducts hunting, fishing, and recreational activities on the surface.   Years before this particular dispute arose, the parties entered into an Operating Agreement and a Settlement Agreement to resolve prior litigation and harmonize their business operations.   Each agreement contained an identical clause requiring arbitration of future legal claims.   When the property dispute underlying this appeal arose, Glawson filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association (AAA).   In its amended demand, served on White Springs on March 9, 2007, Glawson requested “an award of compensatory damages, together with costs of [the] action,” as well as the “amount and procedure determining the parties['] ad valorem tax obligations.”   White Springs initially sought to enjoin the arbitration in federal district court.   When that claim was denied, the parties proceeded to arbitrate their disputes.   Glawson and White Springs stipulated that the arbitration would be divided into two parts.   During the first part (Phase I), the arbitration panel would decide nonmonetary claims of injunctive and declaratory relief.   The second part (Phase II) was reserved for determining “all other disputes of the parties, claims and counterclaims, as amended, including damages.”   On August 18, 2008, the panel ruled in Glawson's favor on the Phase I claims, enjoining White Springs from discharging industrial water that disrupted Glawson's business operations.   The panel further provided that “[a]ll claims not heard during [Phase I] are preserved as per the parties' stipulation.”   On September 29, 2008, the district court partially confirmed the Phase I award, recommitting any issues of compliance with the award back to the arbitration panel.   In preparation for Phase II, the parties filed various motions with the arbitration panel.   Glawson and White Springs jointly submitted a list of proposed issues to be heard during Phase II, and each party individually submitted issues it wanted resolved but to which the other party would not consent.   On December 5, 2008, Glawson moved to amend its original demand for arbitration to add issues it individually submitted to the panel.   On December 24, Glawson filed a supplemental motion seeking to clarify that, through its December 5 motion, it sought “attorneys ['] fees as part of its damages in the Phase II proceedings,” including “attorneys' fees associated with related administrative proceedings” and “an award of prevailing party attorneys' fees.”   Glawson based an award of attorneys' fees on the arbitration clause of the Operating Agreement and Settlement Agreement, which provides:  Any dispute or claim ․ shall be settled by binding arbitration in accordance with the Commercial Arbitration Rules of the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”)․  The arbitrators shall determine the rights and obligations of the parties according to the substantive laws of the State of Florida, excluding conflict of law principles, and shall give effect to the contract terms and applicable statutes of limitation․  The arbitrators may make final, interim, interlocutory, and partial awards, and may grant any remedy or relief which they deem just and equitable and within the scope of the agreement of the parties, excluding punitive damages but including by way of example specific performance, declaratory decrees and the awarding of attorneys fees and costs.

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