South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Judicial Immunity Extends to Arbitrators
Description Texas appeals court held that a party to arbitration proceedings could not sue the arbitrator for failing to reveal a prior connection to the other party to the litigation. Arbitrators, like judges, are immune from personal liability for judicial acts.
Topic Alternate Dispute Resolution
Key Words Arbitrators; Immunity
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts HealthCor moved for arbitration against Blue Cross for non-payment of certain medical services. Arbitration was conducted through the American Arbitration Association and resulted in a decision for HealthCor. Blue Cross then sued the arbitrator, Juneau, in state court for failure to disclose a prior relationship with a HealthCor attorney involved in the arbitration process. Blue Cross argued that had it known of the relationship before arbitration, it would not have agreed to allow Juneau to serve as arbitrator. The trial court dismissed the case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Blue Cross appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. Arbitral immunity is derived from judicial immunity, which establishes that judges are absolutely immune from personal liability for judicial acts, regardless of how erroneous the act, or how evil the motive. Persons whose responsibilities are functionally comparable to those of a judge are likewise immune from liability. Because state policy encourages arbitration and arbitrators are essential actors in furtherance of that policy, it is appropriate that immunity be extended to arbitrators for acts within the scope of their duties.

Citation Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas v. Juneau, 114 S.W.3d 126 (Ct. App., Tx., 2003)

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