Whittaker company must obey arbitrator, Justices say

By Steve Korris | Apr 22, 2011


CHARLESTON – Lottery legend Jack Whittaker must obey an arbitrator's decision against his construction company, Diversified Enterprises Inc., the Supreme Court of Appeals has ruled.

The Justices ruled on April 18 that Raleigh Circuit Judge Harry Kirkpatrick correctly confirmed an award of $85,592.77 plus interest to CIT Technology Financing Services.

Whittaker accused arbitrator Stephen Thompson of favoritism, but Kirkpatrick and the Justices found that Whittaker failed to establish misconduct.

The Justices wrote that Whittaker apparently based his arguments on dissatisfaction with CIT lawyer Jeffrey Vollmer.

"Such arguments are not germane to the issue of alleged misconduct by the arbitrator," they wrote in an unsigned opinion.

In 2002, Diversified Enterprises entered into a five year lease to buy heavy equipment from IFC Credit Corporation.

The lease provided for binding arbitration of disputes.

IFC assigned its rights to a subsidiary, which assigned the rights to CIT.

A dispute arose over payments, and CIT hired a collection agency.

Diversified Enterprises sued in Raleigh County circuit court in 2008, alleging breach of contract and unfair debt collection practices.

Diversified Enterprises and CIT executed an agreement to let Thompson arbitrate the dispute, and Kirkpatrick stayed the proceedings.

Thompson took evidence and decided Diversified Enterprises owed CIT $66,742.79 in unpaid charges and late charges, $18,849.98 in legal fees, and interest.

CIT asked Kirkpatrick to enter the award as final judgment, and he entered it despite Whittaker's claim of partiality.

On appeal, the Justices found no substantial question of law and no prejudicial error.

"The Court notes that petitioner's allegations of arbitrator misconduct are nonspecific and vague," they wrote.

Wesley Queen represented Diversified Enterprises.

Whittaker owned Diversified Enterprises prior to winning the Powerball in 2002. He received a check for about $114 million.

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