First Options of Chicago, Inc. v. Kaplan, 514 U.S. 938, 3 (1995)

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Opinion of the Court

Leitch. Gary A. Rosen filed a brief for respondent Carol Kaplan.*

Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court.

In this case we consider two questions about how courts should review certain matters under the federal Arbitration Act, 9 U. S. C. 1 et seq. (1988 ed. and Supp. V): (1) how a district court should review an arbitrator's decision that the parties agreed to arbitrate a dispute, and (2) how a court of appeals should review a district court's decision confirming, or refusing to vacate, an arbitration award.


The case concerns several related disputes between, on one side, First Options of Chicago, Inc., a firm that clears stock trades on the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, and, on the other side, three parties: Manuel Kaplan; his wife, Carol Kaplan; and his wholly owned investment company, MK Investments, Inc. (MKI), whose trading account First Options cleared. The disputes center on a "workout" agreement, embodied in four separate documents, which governs the "working out" of debts to First Options that MKI and the Kaplans incurred as a result of the October 1987 stock market crash. In 1989, after entering into the agreement, MKI lost an additional $1.5 million. First Options then took control of, and liquidated, certain MKI assets; demanded immediate payment of the entire MKI debt; and insisted that the Kaplans personally pay any deficiency. When its demands went unsatisfied, First Options sought arbitration by a panel of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange.

*Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed for the National Futures Association et al. by Daniel J. Roth; and for the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, Inc., et al. by Lydia Gavalis.

Gerald F. Rath, Steven W. Hansen, and Stuart J. Kaswell filed a brief for the Securities Industry Association as amicus curiae.

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