Ocariz Arbitration Panel Award Upheld by Florida Court

Shook, Hardy & Bacon Partner Bert Ocariz served on an arbitration panel whose decision awarding $32 million to Del Monte International has been confirmed by a Florida federal court. The award was for Inprotsa’s continued use of Del Monte pineapple seeds after the agreement permitting use had expired. On appeal, Inprotsa argued that although it had stipulated "that Del Monte owned the MD-2 pineapple variety," "it only stipulated to that fact because Del Monte had falsely represented that it owned the MD-2 variety in letters to Costa Rican growers." In response, Del Monte pointed out that the arbitral tribunal "specifically held that the parties' agreement was not procured by fraud."
The Florida court found that Inprotsa did not argue "that the two-year arbitration process was fraudulent, that the arbitration tribunal acted fraudulently, or that the final award was procured by fraud." Rather, the company argued that Del Monte fraudulently entered its agreement with Inprotsa, an argument considered and rejected by the arbitrators. "Inprotsa is asking this Court to rehash a losing argument before the arbitration panel," the court held. "Given the legal standard and the summary proceedings to confirm arbitral awards, the Court will not overrule the arbitrator." Further, the arbitration panel's ruling "does not violate the 'most basic notions of morality and justice,'" as Inprotsa argued.

Inversiones Y Procesadora Tropical Inprotsa v. Del Monte Int'l, No. 16-24275 (S.D. Fla., order entered May 1, 2017).