KARLSENG v. COOKE
346 S.W.3d 85 (2011)
Robert C. KARLSENG, Karlseng Law Firm, P.C., Ashley Brigham Patten, Patten & Karlseng, P.C., Jacques Yves LeBlanc, and LeBlanc, Patten and Karlseng Law Firm, P.C., Appellants,
H. Jonathan COOKE, Appellee.
Court of Appeals of Texas, Dallas.
June 28, 2011.
Rehearing Overruled September 9, 2011.
Susan Lea Hays, Godwin Ronquillo, P.C., Blake L. Beckham, Beckham & Thomas, L.L.P., James A. McCorquodale, Kleiman Lawrence Baskind Fitzgerald, L.L.P., Dallas, for Appellants.
Before Justices FITZGERALD, LANGMIERS, and FILLMORE.
Opinion By Justice FITZGERALD.
This is an appeal from an order confirming an arbitrator's award of approximately $22 million in favor of appellee. Appellants raise four issues on appeal. In their first issue, they contend that their rights were prejudiced by the evident partiality of the arbitrator because the arbitrator failed to disclose his close personal and professional relationship with appellee's counsel.1 We conclude the first issue is dispositive of this appeal. For the reasons discussed below we reverse the trial court's confirmation order and final judgment, vacate the arbitration award, and remand the case for further proceedings.PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND This is a partnership dispute.2 The parties agreed to arbitrate their dispute under the rules of JAMS, a provider of alternative dispute resolution services. They selected Robert Faulkner, a former federal magistrate judge, as their single arbitrator. Appellee was represented in the arbitration by the firm of Fish & Richardson, P.C. and, specifically, by attorneys Elizabeth Bedell and Geoffrey Harper. Faulkner made certain disclosures using the JAMS form. Faulkner disclosed that he
had, within the preceding five years, served as a neutral arbitrator in another arbitration involving appellee's lawyer Harper. Faulkner answered "No" to all other questions posed to him on the disclosure form.
Attorney Brett Johnson of Fish & Richardson first appeared in the arbitration on behalf of appellee four days after Faulkner made his disclosures; he was identified as lead counsel on appellee's claim for relief. Faulkner did not supplement his initial disclosures following Johnson's appearance. Following a five-day arbitration hearing, Faulkner ruled in favor of appellee and awarded appellee approximately $22 million, including more than $6 million in attorney's fees.
Appellee moved to confirm the award. Appellants sought a continuance, arguing they had not had adequate time to develop grounds for vacating the award. Among the grounds appellants wished to investigate was evident partiality, based on Faulkner's undisclosed relationship with Johnson. After appellants offered preliminary evidence concerning their claim of evident partiality, they sought more time to develop their theory, but the trial court denied the continuance and confirmed the arbitration award. They appealed. This Court concluded appellants should have been allowed an adequate opportunity to investigate the evident-partiality issue and, thus, the trial court abused its discretion in denying the continuance. Karlseng v. Cooke, 286 S.W.3d 51, 58 (Tex.App.-Dallas 2009, no pet.). We reversed the trial court's judgment confirming the arbitration award and remanded the cause. Id.