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Sanieoff v. Sanieoff

Superior Court of Massachusetts, Norfolk

March 20, 2017

Parviz Sanieoff
Syroos Sanieoff No. 137196

          Filed March 22, 2017


          Thomas A. Connors, Justice of the Superior Court.

         The plaintiff, Parviz Sanieoff, and the defendant, Syroos Sanieoff, are siblings. Beginning in 2000, they engaged in joint ventures for ownership and development of a number of condominium buildings in Boston and Brookline, containing mostly residential units, some of which were to be sold and others rented. They set up three corporations to facilitate this endeavor, One Hundred Marion Street, LLC, Two Hundred Sumner Street, LLC, and Spectacular Realty, LLC, splitting evenly between themselves the beneficial interest in those entities. In 2014, Parviz filed this complaint making legal and equitable claims against his brother relating to the conducting of affairs of the joint ventures. Syroos filed responsive pleading which asserted a variety of counterclaims against Parviz.

         There followed several years of active litigation during which bench trial was scheduled by the court several times. On the eve of the last of those scheduled trials in January of 2016, it was continued on joint motion from both parties. This was followed by their report to the court that the trial need not be rescheduled as they had agreed to binding arbitration, and stipulation to that effect signed by the parties, which was entered as an order of court on March 8, 2016. That arbitration was held on May 24 and 25, 2016 with Gordon L. Doerfer as arbitrator. The parties availed themselves of the opportunity afforded for post-hearing submissions and rebuttals concerning the evidence presented, the last filed on August 1. The arbitrator's decision issued, dated September 12, 2017; this was superceded by a Corrected Final Award dated October 27, 2016, which made no substantive change from the original award, but merely changed a misidentification of a party appearing at one place in the ruling's text.

         The parties have returned to court subsequent to that proceeding and the rendering of the arbitrator's decision. Parviz has filed a motion to confirm that arbitration award. Syroos has filed an opposition to that motion and his own cross motion seeking to vacate or to modify it. The parties were heard on their cross motions on February 1, 2017.

         Legal Standard

         " Public policy in the Commonwealth strongly encourages arbitration." School Comm. of Pittsfield v. United Educators of Pittsfield, 438 Mass. 753, 758, 784 N.E.2d 11 (2003). Therefore, " judicial review of arbitration awards is confined to certain narrow grounds." City of Lawrence v. Falzarano, 380 Mass. 18, 28, 402 N.E.2d 1017 (1980). See Sheriff of Suffolk County v. AFSCME Council 93, Local 419, 67 Mass.App.Ct. 702, 704, 856 N.E.2d 194 (2006). A court is " strictly bound by an arbitrator's findings and legal conclusions, even if they appear erroneous, inconsistent, or unsupported by the record at the arbitration hearing." City of Lynn v. Thompson, 435 Mass. 54, 61, 754 N.E.2d 54 (2001). However, pursuant to G.L.c. 251, § 12(a), the Superior Court " shall vacate an [arbitration] award" if:

(1) the award was procured by corruption, fraud or other undue means;
(2) there was evident partiality by an arbitrator appointed as a neutral, or corruption in any of the arbitrators, or misconduct prejudicing the rights of any party;
(3) the arbitrators exceeded their powers;
(4) the arbitrators refused to postpone the hearing upon sufficient cause being shown therefore or refused to hear evidence material to the controversy or otherwise so conducted the hearing, contrary to the provisions of section five, as to prejudice substantially the rights of a party; or
(5) there was no arbitration agreement and the issue was not adversely determined in proceedings under section two and the party did not participate in the arbitration hearing without raising the objection; but the fact that the relief was such that it could not or would not be granted by a court of law or equity is not ground for vacating or refusing to confirm the award.

         Notwithstanding what plainly is a circumscribed standard of review governing an award granted pursuant to parties' contractual agreement for arbitration of a dispute, an arbitration award is subject to attack as exceeding the scope of authority where the arbitrator grants relief beyond the scope of the arbitration agreement or by awarding relief beyond that to which the parties bound themselves. P ...

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