United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO CONFIRM ARBITRATION AWARD
(DKT. NO. 1), ENTERING JUDGMENT AND DISMISSING CASE
PAMELA PEPPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
February 21, 2017, plaintiff Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc.
filed a motion seeking an order confirming its arbitration
award against defendant Christian B. Harkness. Dkt. No. 1. A
Milwaukee arbitration panel entered the award in FINRA
(Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) Dispute Resolution
arbitration. Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc. v.
Christian B. Harkness, FINRA Case No. 15-01145. The
plaintiff also filed an affidavit of service from Mark Roubik
from Southeast Wisconsin Process, LLC, stating that on March
8, 2017, he served the defendant's seventeen-year-old
stepdaughter at the defendant's residence. Dkt. No. 5.
The defendant never has appeared in this case.
Jurisdiction and Venue
court has subject matter jurisdiction over this case because
the parties are diverse-the plaintiff is a Missouri
corporation, and the defendant is a citizen of Wisconsin-and
the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Dkt. No. 1 at
1-2. See 28 U.S.C. §1332(a). Venue lies in this
district because the award, which issued in Milwaukee, gave
rise to this motion. See 28 U.S.C. §1391(b)(2)
(A civil action may be brought in “a judicial district
in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving
rise to the claim occurred.”)
jurisdiction requires “valid service of process.”
Swaim v. Moltan Co., 73 F.3d 711, 719-20 (7th
Cir.1996) (citing Omni Capital Int'l v. Rudolf Wolff
& Co., Ltd., 484 U.S. 97 (1987)). Rule 4(e) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sets out the rules governing
service; in a case brought in courts of general jurisdiction
in the state where the district is located or where service
is made, the rule allows for service by following the
state's law for serving a summons. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(e).
Wisconsin law requires that a plaintiff attempt service on an
individual either by personally serving the summons or, if
the defendant cannot be served personally with reasonable
diligence, by “leaving a copy of the summons at the
defendant's usual place of abode in the presence of some
competent member of the family at least 14 years of age, who
shall be informed of the contents thereof.” Wis.Stat.
§801.11. The plaintiff filed the affidavit of the
process server, indicating that he attempted to serve the
defendant personally four times on three different days,
prior to leaving the motion to confirm arbitration award,
civil cover sheet, exhibit list, exhibits, memorandum of law,
and the corporate disclosure statement with the
defendant's seventeen-year-old stepdaughter at ¶
4778 Deerview Drive, Lacrosse, Wisconsin. Dkt. No. 5.
of the summons establishes personal jurisdiction over a
defendant who is subject to the jurisdiction of a court of
general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is
located. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(1)(A). The defendant falls under
the general jurisdiction provision of Wis.Stat. §801.05,
which confers jurisdiction over a defendant who “[i]s
engaged in substantial and not isolated activities within
this state . . . .” The defendant, who lives in
LaCrosse, worked for the plaintiff in Wisconsin from
September 2009 until December 2014; the underlying cause of
action arose in Wisconsin, and the arbitration award issued
from Milwaukee. The court is satisfied that the plaintiff has
established personal jurisdiction, and so turns to the merits
of the pending motion to confirm the arbitration award.
plaintiff filed copies of the August 10, 2016 Stipulated
Award (dkt. no. 1-2), the July 9, 2015 Submission Agreement
(dkt. no. 1-3), and the September 4, 2009 Promissory Note
(dkt. no. 1-4). The plaintiff brought a claim against the
defendant in arbitration for a breach of the promissory note,
which became due and owing after the plaintiff terminated the
defendant's employment. Dkt. Nos. 1-2 at 1 and 1-4 at
¶5. On or about April 22, 2016, the parties notified
FINRA Dispute Resolution that they had entered into a
settlement agreement, and that they had agreed to present the
panel with a Stipulated Award. Dkt. No. 1-2 at 4. The
respondent admitted liability in the amount of “$439,
706 in compensatory damages, plus interest at the rate of
4.5% per annum ($54.21 per day) from the date of the Award
until the Award is paid in full; plus all future costs of
collection.” Dkt. No. 1-2 at 4.
the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), the court
must confirm the arbitration award “unless the award is
vacated, modified or corrected” as set out in
§§10 and 11. 9 U.S.C. §9. The defendant agreed
to arbitrate the dispute, as evidenced by the FINRA
Arbitration Submission Agreement. Dkt. No. 1-3. Additionally,
the defendant agreed in the underlying promissory note that
“any controversy or dispute arising under this Note, or
out of Employee's employment by Stifel . . . be submitted
for arbitration . . . .” Dkt. No. 1-4 at ¶10. The
defendant agreed “that arbitration shall be the
exclusive remedy and that the results of such arbitration
shall be final and binding upon him.” Id. He
further agreed that the judgment on any award that an
arbitration panel might issue could enter “in any state
or federal court of competent jurisdiction.”
the award issued on August 10, 2016, the plaintiff had one
year to file its motion seeking confirmation. 9 U.S.C.
§9. The court finds nothing in this record to suggest
that a statutory exception to confirmation would apply.
Finally, the award provides for all future costs of
collection, dkt. No. 1-2 at 4, and the note provides for
reasonable costs and attorneys' fees, dkt. no. 1-4 at 5.
the court finds that it has subject-matter and personal
jurisdiction, because the award has not been modified,
vacated or corrected, and because the defendant has not
entered an appearance or responded to ...