This article was first published on the Securities Arbitration Alert blog. here.
The Supreme Court on October 31 denied Certiorari in Caputo v. Wells Fargo, No. 22-265, a case involving a FINRA Award. We analyzed in SAA 2022-19 (May 19) the underlying Third Circuit decision, Caputo v. Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, No. 20-3059 (3rd Cir. May 9, 2022), reh’g den. Jun. 17. There, a unanimous Court held that, even if a finra Panel’s Award was legally erroneous, this alone did not meet the stringent standard for a finding of “manifest disregard of the law.”
Wells Fargo succeeded in a FINRA arbitration brought to recover the $1,663,529.71 balance on a discharged adviser’s promissory note. Respondent Caputo then sought without success to vacate the Award (ed: see the case of the same name, No. 3:19-cv-17204-FLW-LHG (D. N.J. 2020)), and this appeal followed. The issues? “Caputo argues that the award should be vacated because it violates public policy and is in manifest disregard of law. He also argues that it should be vacated because the arbitration panel exceeded its authority and excluded certain evidence.” After rejecting the exceeding authority and public policy challenges, the Third Circuit says this about “manifest disregard”:
“Even if the FINRA arbitration panel got it wrong, it is hard to see how this would be more than legal error, as required to vacate an arbitration award under the manifest disregard doctrine. Further, despite Caputo’s assertions to the contrary, there is no evidence in the record that Wells Fargo urged the FINRA arbitration panel to disregard the law. The arbitrators’ decisions to cut off the cross-examination of certain witnesses and rule in favor of Wells Fargo do not support the inference that the FINRA arbitration panel disregarded the law such that they exceeded their authority.”
Issues in Cert. Petition
As usual, SCOTUS provides no explanation.
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