Arbitrator Cannot Be Forced To Testify

In 2005, Alan Symonette served as the chair of an arbitration panel in a matter involving the Borough of Dunmore and the Dunmore Police Association. A police officer subsequently sued both the Borough and the Association, alleging unlawful employment conditions as well as a breach of contract and breach of the duty of fair representation. The officer subpoenaed Symonette to testify in a deposition. A federal court quashed the subpoena.

The Court found that there was a “longstanding precedent of granting judicial immunity to those serving in quasi-judicial roles, such as an arbitrator. Testimonial privilege, subject to exception, has been recognized to protect arbitrators. There is no known exception in the present case, and Symonette’s motion to quash the subpoena for deposition will be granted.”

Garzella v. Borough of Dunmore, 2006 WL 2583649 (M.D.Pa. 2006).

This article appears in the January 2007 issue