United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON SUBJECT MATTER
CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are cross-petitions regarding certain arbitration
awards, purportedly filed pursuant to the Federal Arbitration
Act ("FAA" or "the Act"). Petitioner
Windward Development, Inc. has petitioned this Court for
confirmation of an arbitration award [Doc. 1], and Respondent
James Thomas, by his Answer to Petitioner, has made a
cross-petition to vacate that award, in part [Doc. 11].
Parties assert that "[t]his Court has jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331,  in that this is a civil
action arising under Federal Laws." Pet. to Confirm,
Doc. 1, ¶ 6. See also Pet'r's Br., Doc.
1-14 at 4 (same); Answer & Cross-Pet., Doc. 11, ¶ 21
(same). Neither Party cites the specific federal law or laws
which establish this Court's jurisdiction, and, after
careful review of the filings, the Court can only infer that
the Parties' assertion of federal subject matter
jurisdiction relies on the FAA. The Court
considers sua sponte whether these petitions fall
within its subject matter jurisdiction.
The Federal Arbitration Act
FAA, 9 U.S.C. §§ 1-16,
provides a streamlined process for a party seeking a judicial
decree confirming an award, an order vacating it, or an order
modifying or correcting it. Normally, confirmation of an
arbitration award is a summary proceeding that merely makes
what is already a final arbitration award a judgment of the
court, and the court must grant the award unless the award is
vacated, modified, or corrected. But arbitration awards are
not self-enforcing. Rather, they must be given force and
effect by being converted to judicial orders by courts.
R & Q Reinsurance Co. v. Utica Mut. Ins. Co., 18
F.Supp.3d 389, 392 (S.D.N.Y. 2014) (internal quotation marks,
alterations, and citations omitted) (quoting Hall St.
Assocs., L.L.C. v. Mattel, Inc., 552 U.S. 576, 582
(2008); D.H. Blair & Co. v. Gottdiender, 462
F.3d 95, 110 (2d Cir. 2006); Hoeft v. MVL Grp.,
Inc., 343 F.3d 57, 63 (2d Cir. 2003), overruled on
other grounds by Hall St., 552 U.S. 576). § 9 of
the Act provides:
If the parties in their agreement have agreed that a judgment
of the court shall be entered upon the award made pursuant to
the arbitration, and shall specify the court, then at any
time within one year after the award is made any party to the
arbitration may apply to the court so specified for an order
confirming the award, and thereupon the court must grant such
an order unless the award is vacated, modified, or corrected
as prescribed in sections 10 and 11 of this title.
9 U.S.C. § 9. § 10 provides that reviewing courts
may vacate an arbitration award in the limited circumstances
where (1) "the award was procured by corruption, fraud,
or undue means; (2)  there was evident partiality or
corruption in the arbitrators . . .; (3)  the arbitrators
were guilty of misconduct . . .; or (4)  the arbitrators
exceeded their powers." 9 U.S.C. § 10. § 11
provides for judicial modification or correction of an
arbitration award, in similarly limited circumstances.
Federal Arbitration Act . . . does not independently confer
subject matter jurisdiction on the federal courts."
Durant, Nichols, Houston, Hodgson & Cortese-Costa
P.C. v. Dupont, 565 F.3d 56, 63 (2d Cir. 2009).
"[T]he Act is something of an anomaly in the realm of
federal legislation: It bestows no federal jurisdiction but
rather requires for access to a federal forum an independent
jurisdictional basis over the parties' dispute."
Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 59 (2009)
(internal quotation marks and alterations omitted) (quoting
Hall St., 552 U.S. at 581-82). "That
independent jurisdictional basis is generally either federal
question or diversity jurisdiction." Hermès
of Paris, Inc. v. Swain, 867 F.3d 321, 325 n. 1 (2d Cir.
2017). Federal courts' admiralty jurisdiction is a
frequent source of FAA subject matter jurisdiction. 9 U.S.C.
§ 2 declares valid and enforceable "[a] written
provision in any maritime transaction or a contract
evidencing a transaction involving commerce to settle by
arbitration" controversies arising out of the contract
or transaction. See also Harry Hoffman Printing, Inc. v.
Graphic Commc'ns., Int'l Union, Local 261, 912
F.2d 608, 611 (2d Cir. 1990) (collecting cases)
("section 10 of the Arbitration Act does not confer
subject matter jurisdiction on a district court. . . .There
must be an independent basis of jurisdiction before a
district court may entertain petitions under the Act.").
Subject Matter Jurisdiction in the Federal Courts
district courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, under
Article III, Section 2, of the United States Constitution.
See, e.g., Chicot Cty. Drainage Dist. v. Baxter State
Bank, 308 U.S. 371, 376 (1940), reh'g
denied, 309 U.S. 695 (1940). The question of subject
matter jurisdiction is fundamental, so that a court must
raise the issue sua sponte, of its own accord, when
the issue is not addressed by the parties. Mansfield, C.
& L.M. Ry. Co. v. Swan, 111 U.S. 379, 382 (1884).
See also Joseph v. Leavitt, 465 F.3d 87, 89 (2d Cir.
2006) ("Although neither party has suggested that we
lack appellate jurisdiction, we have an independent
obligation to consider the presence or absence of subject
matter jurisdiction sua sponte."), cert.
denied, 549 U.S. 1282 (2007); Univ. of S. Alabama v.
Am. Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 405, 410 (11th Cir. 1999)
("[I]t is well settled that a federal court is obligated
to inquire into subject matter jurisdiction sua
sponte whenever it may be lacking").
general, a federal district court may exercise subject matter
jurisdiction over an action only if there is either: (1)
"federal question" jurisdiction, applicable to
"all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws,
or treaties of the United States, " 28 U.S.C. §
1331; or (2) there exists "diversity of citizenship,
" complete diversity of citizenship between the
plaintiff and all defendants and the amount in controversy
exceeds "the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of
interest and costs, " 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). See
also Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 7 U.S. 267, 267-68 (1806);
Da Silva v. Kinsho Int'l Corp., 229 F.3d 358,
363 (2d Cir. 2000) (delineating two categories of subject
personal jurisdiction, "failure of subject matter
jurisdiction is not waivable." Lyndonville Sav. Bank
& Trust Co. v. Lussier, 211 F.3d 697, 700 (2d Cir.
2000). If subject matter jurisdiction is lacking, the action
must be dismissed. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3); 211
F.3d at 700-01. See also, e.g., Cortlandt St. Recovery
Corp. v. Hellas Telecomms., S.À.R.L., 790 F.3d
411, 416-17 (2d Cir. 2015) ("A district court properly
dismisses an action . . . for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction if the court lacks the statutory or
constitutional power to adjudicate it . . . .") (quoting
Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d
Cir. 2000)); Manway Constr. Co. v. Housing Auth. of
Hartford,711 F.2d 501, 503 (2d Cir. 1983) ("It is
common ground that in our federal system of limited
jurisdiction any ...