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Inversiones y Procesadora Tropical INPROTSA, S.A. v. Del Monte International GmbH

United States District Court, S.D. Florida, Miami Division

May 1, 2017

INVERSIONES Y PROCESADORA TROPICAL INPROTSA, S.A., a Costa Rican Corporation, Petitioner,
v.
DEL MONTE INTERNATIONAL GMBH, a Swiss Corporation, Respondent.

          ORDER GRANTING CROSS-PETITION TO CONFIRM THE ARBITRAL AWARD

          FEDERICO A. MORENO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On December 6, 2016, this Court dismissed Inversiones y Procesadora Tropical INPROTSA, SA.'s petition to vacate an Arbitral Award. INPROTSA, S.A. appealed that order to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The Eleventh Circuit issued a limited remand requesting this Court rule on Del Monte International GmbH's cross-petition to confirm the arbitral award. The issues presented on the limited remand include whether the Court has jurisdiction, whether the cross-petition should be confirmed on the merits, and whether INPROTSA is timely raising affirmative defenses to the cross-petition. Having reviewed the issues, the Court finds there is jurisdiction over the cross-petition to confirm the arbitral award. This Court also finds INPROTSA has not overcome the presumption in favor of confirming arbitration awards and INPROTSA's arguments are untimely. Accordingly, the Court grants Del Monte's cross-petition to confirm the arbitral award.

         THIS CAUSE came before the Court upon the Cross-Petition to Confirm the Arbitral Award.

         THE COURT has considered the motion, the response, the pertinent portions of the record, and being otherwise fully advised in the premises, it is

         ADJUDGED that the cross-petition to confirm the arbitral award is GRANTED.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Petitioner, Inversiones y Procesadora Tropical INPROTSA, S.A., filed a petition to vacate an arbitral award in state court. Respondent, Del Monte International, GmbH, removed the case to this Court on October 7, 2016. Petitioner moved for remand to state court. Respondent moved to dismiss the petition to vacate the arbitral award and requested the Court confirm the arbitral award.

         On December 6, 2016, the Court entered an Order dismissing the petition to vacate and denying all pending motions as moot. The Petitioner appealed and the Respondent moved for clarification as to whether the dismissal of the petition to vacate meant that the Court was confirming the arbitral award. Due to INPROTSA's Notice of Appeal, the Court denied the motion for clarification because it was divested of jurisdiction.

         The Eleventh Circuit issued a Limited Remand requesting this Court decide whether to confirm the arbitration award.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The underlying arbitration arose out of an exclusive Pineapple Sales Agreement entered between the parties in May 2001. Del Monte claimed INPROTSA breached the agreement by selling pineapples originating from Del Monte's seeds to competitors. In March 2014, Del Monte commenced the arbitration proceedings before the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce as required by the Agreement's arbitration clause. On June 10, 2016, the arbitrator issued a final award in favor of Del Monte in a 48-page order. In addition to specific performance and injunctive relief, the arbitrator ordered INPROTSA to pay Del Monte $26, 133, 000, plus pre and post-award interest, arbitral costs in the amount of $650, 000 and attorney's fees in the amount of $2, 507, 440.54.

         III. LEGAL ANALYSIS

         A. Jurisdiction

         Although this case is on a limited remand to decide whether to confirm the arbitral award, the Petitioner is raising the issue of whether the federal court has subject matter jurisdiction under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the "New York Convention"). "Federal courts operate under a continuing obligation to inquire into the existence of subject matter jurisdiction whenever it may be lacking. That obligation continues through every stage of a case even if no party raises the issue." RES-GA Cobblestone, LLC. v. Blake Constr. & Dev., LLC, 718 F.3d 1308, 1313 (11th Cir. 2013).

         Respondent removed this case on the basis that Section 203 of the Federal Arbitration Act provides jurisdiction. That section states "[a]n action or proceeding falling under the New York Convention shall be deemed to arise under the the laws and treaties of the United States. The district courts of the United States . . . shall have original jurisdiction over ...


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