United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
JOHN HANCOCK LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY U.S.A. Plaintiff,
EMPLOYERS REASSURANCE CORPORATION, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. CASPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
John Hancock Life Insurance Company U.S.A. (“John
Hancock”) brings this “petition and motion for
enforcement of arbitration agreement” (“the
Petition”). D. 7. Invoking the Federal Arbitration Act
(the “FAA”), 9 U.S.C. §§ 4 and 5, John
Hancock asks the Court to remove the arbitrator Employers
Reassurance Corporation (“Employers”) has
appointed to sit on the panel presiding over a pending
arbitration between John Hancock and Employers. Id.
¶ 1. John Hancock contends that the arbitrator that
Employers appointed does not meet the qualification
requirements set out in the parties’ arbitration
agreement, Agreement No. EP19A01 (the
“Agreement”). Id. For the reasons stated
below, the Court DENIES the Petition.
central facts underlying the Petition are undisputed. John
Hancock is an insurance company organized under the laws of
Michigan with its principal place of business in Boston,
Massachusetts. D. 7 ¶ 2. Employers is a reinsurance
company organized under the laws of Kansas with its principal
place of business in or around Overland Park, Kansas.
Id. ¶ 3. The Agreement between Employers and
John Hancock became effective on July 1, 1999. D. 7 ¶ 1;
D. 18-3 at 4. Pursuant to the Agreement, John Hancock agreed
to cede and Employers to accept a percentage of John
Hancock’s retention of liability under specified
insurance policies issued prior to the effective date of the
Agreement. D. 7 ¶ 7.
Agreement provides that any dispute that arises relating to
the Agreement shall be resolved by arbitration. D. 3-1 at 12;
D. 7 ¶ 1; D. 18 at 1. The Agreement further provides
that each party will appoint one arbitrator and those two
arbitrators will then select the third arbitrator. D. 3-1 at
12; D. 7 ¶ 10; D. 18 at 3. The second arbitrator must be
selected within two weeks after notice is provided that the
first arbitrator has been selected. D. 3-1 at 12; D. 7 ¶
10. The two party-appointed arbitrators are instructed to
select the third arbitrator within two weeks of appointment
of the second arbitrator. D. 3-1 at 12; D. 7 ¶ 10. The
Agreement specifies that “[a]ll three arbitrators must
be officers of Life Insurance Companies or Life Reinsurance
Companies, excluding however, officers of the two parties to
this Agreement, their affiliates or subsidiaries or past
employees of any of these entities.” D. 3-1 at 12; D. 7
¶ 11; D. 18 at 4.
August 14, 2015, John Hancock initiated arbitration to
resolve a dispute regarding Employers’ right to
increase the reinsurance premiums charged to John Hancock
under the Agreement. D. 7 ¶ 12; D. 18 at 3. On August
14, 2015, John Hancock sent Employers a letter naming Thomas
M. Zurek as an arbitrator. D. 3-2; D. 7 ¶ 13; D. 18 at
3. On August 28, 2015, Employers responded with a letter
naming Denis Loring (“Loring”) as an arbitrator.
D. 3-4; D. 7 ¶ 14; D. 18 at 3. On September 4, 2015,
John Hancock demanded that Employers withdraw Loring; John
Hancock contended that Loring could not serve as an
arbitrator because Loring was once employed by one of John
Hancock’s affiliates, specifically, John Hancock Mutual
Life Insurance Company. D. 3-6; D. 7 ¶ 15; D. 18 at 3.
Employers refused to withdraw Loring. D. 7 ¶ 16; D. 18
at 3; D. 18-3 at 7-9.
October 23, 2015, John Hancock instituted this civil action
seeking the removal of Loring. D. 1. That same day, John
Hancock filed a “petition and motion for enforcement of
arbitration agreement.” D. 7. After a hearing, the Court
took the matter under advisement. D. 21.
“embodies the national policy favoring arbitration,
” Buckeye Check Cashing, Inc. v. Cardegna, 546
U.S. 440, 443 (2006), and “was designed to promote
arbitration.” Soto-Fonalledas v. Ritz-Carlton San
Juan Hotel Spa & Casino, 640 F.3d 471, 474 (1st Cir.
2011) (citation and internal quotation mark omitted). Thus,
the FAA “provides that written agreements to arbitrate
controversies arising out of an existing contract
‘shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save
upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the
revocation of any contract.’” Dean Witter
Reynolds, Inc. v. Byrd, 470 U.S. 213, 218 (1985) (citing
9 U.S.C. § 2). In further keeping with its goal of
promoting arbitration, the FAA provides for judicial
enforcement of written arbitration agreements, Circuit
City Stores, Inc. v. Adams, 532 U.S. 105, 111 (2001)
(citing 9 U.S.C. § 2), and “expedited judicial
review to confirm, vacate, or modify arbitration
awards” once the awards have been issued. Hall St.
Assocs., L.L.C. v. Mattel, Inc., 552 U.S. 576, 578
(2008) (citing 9 U.S.C. §§ 9-11). With regard to
the enforcement of arbitration, “[b]y its terms, the
[FAA] leaves no place for the exercise of discretion by a
district court, but instead mandates that district courts
shall direct the parties to proceed to arbitration
on issues as to which an arbitration agreement has been
signed.” Dean Witter, 470 U.S. at 218
(emphasis in original).
The FAA Does Not Authorize the Court to Remove an Arbitrator
Before a Final ...