Cvoro v. Carnival Corporation, Case No.: 18-11815, 11th Cir. 2019

The Eleventh Circuit upheld foreign arbitral award, refusing to apply the New York Convention’s public policy exception.

At issue before the Eleventh Circuit in this matter was the interplay between a foreign arbitration award and the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Award’s (the New York Convention) “public policy” exception. The plaintiff was a Carnival Cruise Lines’ employee who sustained injuries during the course of her employment. Because the plaintiff’s employment agreement with Carnival contained a mandatory arbitration clause, the plaintiff commenced arbitration against Carnival in Monaco (which was the arbitration forum closest to the plaintiff’s home country). Although the arbitration agreement had a choice-of-law clause requiring the application of Panamanian law, the plaintiff asserted claims under the U.S. Jones Act. The arbitrator rejected the plaintiff’s Jones Act claim and instead applied Panamanian law, which resulted in the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims in the Monaco arbitration. The plaintiff then filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, seeking to vacate or alternatively deny recognition and enforcement of the foreign arbitral award, arguing that, because the final arbitral award failed to provide her with the Jones Act remedy available in the United States to which she was entitled as a seafarer, enforcement of the arbitral award violated United States public policy and must be vacated under the New York Convention. The district court denied the plaintiff’s petition, and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed, concluding that the arbitral award did not violate United States policy. The decision confirmed the Eleventh Circuit’s (and the United States Supreme Court’s) endorsement of international arbitration awards pursuant to “valid, mutually-agreed upon arbitration provisions.”


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