In Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters v. Drywall Dynamics (9th Cir 05/19/2016) the 9th Circuit has advanced its arbitration jurisprudence by declaring that "it is time for us to retire the use of 'plausibility' as a term to describe the courts' role in reviewing labor arbitration awards." A district court had vacated an arbitration award on the ground that the arbitrator’s interpretation of the parties' agreement was not “plausible.” The 9th Circuit's response was that it needed "once more to clarify the limited role played by courts in reviewing labor arbitration awards." The district court ruled that the arbitration panel’s interpretation of the contracts was not “plausible.” To me, that was just another way of saying that the district court did not agree with the arbitration panel’s interpretation of the contracts. Apparently the 9th Circuit saw things the same way I did. The take-away quote:
"the quality — that is, the degree of substantive validity — of an arbitrator’s interpretation is, and always has been, beside the point. Instead, the appropriate question for a court to ask when determining whether to enforce a labor arbitration award interpreting a collective bargaining agreement is a simple binary one: Did the arbitrator look at and construe the contract, or did he not?"
Legal analysis can get so tied up in specific words, and those words can encompass so many meanings, that courts sometimes get carried away. The 9th Circuit spent a lot of its opinion explaining a number of ways in which "plausibility" had been used. So, for now that word has been "retired."