Does Arbitral Immunity Shield a Defendant Arbitrator from Liability for Acts Performed In His Arbitral Capacity ?

In John Street Leasehold, L.L.C. v. Brunjes, 234 A.d.2d 26, 650 N.Y.S.2d 649 (1996), the First Department unanimously affirmed the grant of defendant's motion to dismiss the action to recover damages against an arbitrator. The complaint alleged that the arbitrator failed to disclose that the attorney for John Street's adversary represented the arbitrator in a personal matter. The Appellate Division reaffirmed that arbitral immunity shielded the defendant arbitrator from liability for acts performed in his arbitral capacity. It reasoned further that the confirmation of the arbitrator's award by the trial court was res judicata on the issue of arbitrator bias and misconduct. In Wally v. Arbitration Council, 165 Misc.2d 896, 630 N.Y.S.2d 627 (Sup. Ct. NY Co. 1995), app dismd 241 A.D.2d 983 (lst Dept 1997), the Wally court decided that the doctrine of arbitral immunity barred an action against an arbitrator for breach of the rules of the proceeding.