BNSF wins dismissal of "corruption" challenge to arbitration award
Clients BNSF Railway Company
Jones Day represented BNSF Railway Company in litigation against the United Transportation Union and former employee Richard D. Kite, regarding a challenge to an arbitration award under the Railway Labor Act. During an arbitration proceeding concerning BNSF's decision to dismiss Mr. Kite for repeated alcohol violations, the BNSF advocate allegedly said to the neutral that she would not receive further work from the railroad industry if Mr. Kite were allowed to return to work. The arbitrator later recused herself, and the case was then heard and decided by a second arbitration panel, which upheld Mr. Kite's dismissal. The Plaintiffs alleged that BNSF had procured this result through extortion. At trial, however, BNSF proved that the arbitrator had not recused herself because of the BNSF advocate's comments. She testified that she recused herself because she mistakenly believed that the parties had agreed to settle the case. Judge Leighton of the Western District of Washington sided with BNSF, seeing "no clear and convincing evidence" of corruption, and upheld the decision of the arbitration board.
United Transportation Union and Richard D. Kite v. BNSF Railway Company, Case No. 10-5808 (W.D. Wash.)