Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiff claimed that PeopleConnect used her name and likeness in its Classmates.com school yearbook database without her consent. Plaintiff retained an attorney, who created a Classmates.com account and searched for Plaintiff on the site. In creating the account, the attorney agreed to the Terms of Service, which contained an arbitration provision. Applying Ohio law, the district court denied PeopleConnect’s motion to compel arbitration, holding that there was no evidence that Plaintiff gave her counsel authority to bind her to the Terms of Service containing the arbitration provision.   The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court’s denial of a motion to compel arbitration in an action involving a right of publicity claim against PeopleConnect, LLC under Ohio law. The panel held that the district court erred in applying Ohio law because Washington law governed the threshold question of arbitrability. Here, because no conflict was shown to exist between the law of Washington (the forum state) and Ohio law, Washington law applied. The court held that on the record before the district court, questions of fact precluded ruling on the motion to compel arbitration.   These questions of fact included: whether Plaintiff and her attorney had an agency relationship when her attorney agreed to the Terms of Service; if they did have an agency relationship, whether and how Plaintiff limited her attorney’s authority as her agent; and whether Plaintiff ratified her attorney’s agreement to arbitrate. The court held further that PeopleConnect had a right to conduct discovery on these and related arbitrability issues before the district court decides the motion to compel arbitration. View "BARBARA KNAPKE V. PEOPLECONNECT, INC." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court in favor of Defendant, the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 13 (the Union), in which the Court denied the Town of North Providence's petition to vacate an arbitration award and granted the Union's motion to confirm the award, holding that the arbitrator so imperfectly executed his authority that he did not provide a mutual, final, and definite award upon the subject matter, as required under R.I. Gen. Laws 28-9-18(a)(2).This action arose from a dispute between the Union and the Town regarding the effect of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) governing the employment relationship between the Town and the Town's police officers. The arbitrator found in favor of the Union, and the superior court granted the Union's motion to confirm the award. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the arbitrator's award failed to draw its essence from the contract, manifestly disregarded relevant portions of the CBA, and produced completely irrational results. View "Town of North Providence v. Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 13" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court denying arbitration requested by two unions - the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union and the United Steelworkers Local 12203 (collectively, Union) - on behalf of former two employees of the Boston Gas Company (Company) as to their claims for pension benefits, holding that this matter called for arbitration.The Union represented the two members in filing grievances regarding their underpaid pensions. The Union submitted the grievances to the Joint Pension Committee, which was unable to resolve the dispute. The Union subsequently sought arbitration over the grievances, but the Company refused to arbitrate. The First Circuit reversed, holding that it was up to an arbitrator, not a court, to determine the matters at issue in this case. View "United Steelworkers v. National Grid" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a citizen and resident of Vietnam, initiated arbitration proceedings in Singapore against Defendant, then a citizen and resident of North Carolina regarding a dispute related to a sale of property in the Philippines. Plaintiff obtained a $1.55 million award against Defendant, and then brought this case asking the court to enforce the award. The district court rejected Defendant's jurisdictional challenges and granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff. Defendant appealed.The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting summary judgment to Plaintiff. In so holding, the court rejected Defendant's claim that the district court lacked subject matter and personal jurisdiction, and that the court erred in finding no disputed issues of material fact. View "Rachan Reddy v. Rashid Buttar" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting a motion to approve a settlement agreement reached in mediation involving siblings Lily Smith and Sam, Dan, and Vernon Lindemulder, holding that Petitioners were not entitled to relief on their claims of error.The agreement at issue resolved claims involving the Alice M. Lindemulder Trust, established by the parties' mother, which held more than 2,000 acres of land in Stillwater County. Sam appealed the district court's decision to approve the settlement agreement, arguing that the agreement was unenforceable because he lacked the capacity to enter it and had been subjected to undue influence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in concluding that Sam validly consented to the agreement; and (2) did not err in holding that the agreement was valid and enforceable. View "Smith v. Lindemulder" on Justia Law

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The Court of Chancery granted Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment seeking an order confirming the arbitration panel's award in this case and denied Defendants' motion for summary judgment seeking to vacate the award, holding that there was no basis to vacate the arbitration panel's award.Defendants initiated arbitration proceedings against Plaintiff to challenge the validity of unsuitability determination that Plaintiff issued to Defendants under the parties' agreement. The arbitration panel determined that the unsuitability determination was valid. This litigation followed. The Court of Chancery confirmed the arbitration award, holding that Defendants were not entitled to relief on their allegations of error. View "MHP Management, LLC v. DTR MHP Management, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court applying this Court's decision in State ex rel. AMFM, LLC v. King, 740 S.E.2d 66 (W. Va. 2013), to conclude that Respondent lacked authority to bind her mother to an arbitration agreement, holding that there was no error.Respondent admitted her mother to The Villages at Greystone, an assisted living residence, when Respondent was not her mother's attorney-in-fact. In her capacity as her mother's medical surrogate Respondent completed on her mother's behalf a residency agreement and an arbitration agreement. Respondent later sued Petitioners, alleging that her mother had suffered injuries while a resident of Greystone due to Petitioners' negligence. Petitioners filed a motion to arbitrate the claim, but the circuit court denied the motion, concluding that no valid arbitration agreement existed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Petitioners failed to establish a valid agreement to arbitrate on the facts of this case. View "Beckley Health Partners, Ltd. v. Hoover" on Justia Law

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California’s Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) authorizes any “aggrieved employee” to initiate an action against a former employer on behalf of himself and other current or former employees to obtain civil penalties that previously could have been recovered only by California’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency. California precedent holds that a PAGA suit is a “representative action” in which the plaintiff sues as an “agent or proxy” of the state. Moriana filed a PAGA action against her former employer, Viking, alleging multiple violations with respect to herself and other employees. Moriana’s employment contract contained a mandatory arbitration agreement with a “Class Action Waiver,” providing that the parties could not bring any class, collective, or representative action under PAGA, and a severability clause. California courts denied Viking’s motion to compel arbitration.The Supreme Court reversed. The Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 1 (FAA), preempts California precedent that precludes division of PAGA actions into individual and non-individual claims through an agreement to arbitrate. Viking was entitled to compel arbitration of Moriana’s individual claim. Moriana would then lack standing to maintain her non-individual claims in court.A PAGA action asserting multiple violations under California’s Labor Code affecting a range of different employees does not constitute “a single claim.” Nothing in the FAA establishes a categorical rule mandating enforcement of waivers of standing to assert claims on behalf of absent principals. PAGA’s built-in mechanism of claim joinder is in conflict with the FAA. State law cannot condition the enforceability of an agreement to arbitrate on the availability of a procedural mechanism that would permit a party to expand the scope of the anticipated arbitration by introducing claims that the parties did not jointly agree to arbitrate. View "Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana" on Justia Law

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Parties involved in arbitration proceedings abroad sought discovery in the U.S. under 28 U.S.C. 1782(a), which authorizes a district court to order the production of evidence “for use in a proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal.” One case, a contract dispute between private parties, was proceeding under the Arbitration Rules of the German Institution of Arbitration and involves a private dispute-resolution organization. The second case is proceeding against Lithuania before an ad hoc arbitration panel, in accordance with the Arbitration Rules of the U.N. Commission on International Trade Law.The Supreme Court held that the parties are not entitled to discovery. Only a governmental or intergovernmental adjudicative body constitutes a “foreign or international tribunal” under 28 U.S.C. 1782; the bodies at issue do not qualify. While a “tribunal” need not be a formal “court,” attached to the modifiers “foreign or international,” the phrase is best understood to refer to an adjudicative body that exercises governmental authority. The animating purpose of section 1782 is comity: Permitting federal courts to assist foreign and international governmental bodies promotes respect for foreign governments and encourages reciprocal assistance. Extending section 1782 to include private bodies would be in significant tension with the Federal Arbitration Act, which governs domestic arbitration; section 1782 permits much broader discovery than the FAA.The Court acknowledged that the arbitration panel involving Lithuania presents a harder question. The option to arbitrate is contained in an international treaty rather than a private contract but the two nations involved did not intend that an ad hoc panel exercise governmental authority. View "ZF Automotive U. S., Inc. v. Luxshare, Ltd." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a Russian citizen who resides in Russia, filed a civil RICO suit against Defendant Russian citizen who resides in California, and eleven other defendants. After securing a foreign arbitration award against Defendant. Plaintiff obtained a judgment from a United States district court confirming the award and giving Plaintiff the rights to execute that judgment in California and to pursue discovery. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants engaged in illegal activity, in violation of RICO, to thwart the execution of that California judgment.   Consistent with the Second and Third Circuits, but disagreeing with the Seventh Circuit’s residency-based test for domestic injuries involving intangible property, the court held that the alleged injuries to a judgment obtained by Plaintiff from a United States district court in California were domestic injuries to property such that Plaintiff had statutory standing under RICO. The court concluded that, for purposes of standing under RICO, the California judgment existed as property in California because the rights that it provided to Plaintiff existed only in California. In addition, much of the conduct underlying the alleged injury occurred in or was targeted at California. View "VITALY SMAGIN V. COMPAGNIE MONEGASQUE DE BANQUE" on Justia Law