Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

by
The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court order was final and its retention of jurisdiction to review the arbitrator's decision did not destroy the finality of the district court's ruling pertaining to the enforcement of the arbitral summonses. The court also held that the district court's determination that it had ancillary jurisdiction was appropriate. However, the magistrate judge improperly found jurisdiction on two additional grounds: (1) the district court appointed the arbitrator; and (2) the parties agreed to jurisdiction of the district court in their arbitration agreement. The court interpreted the plain meaning of Section 7 as (1) requiring summonsed non-parties to appear in the physical presence of the arbitrator as opposed to a video conference or teleconference; and (2) prohibiting pre-hearing discovery. In this case, the district court abused its discretion in enforcing the arbitral summonses because the court lacked power under Section 7 to order the witnesses to appear at the video conference and provide pre-hearing discovery. The court also held that the district court's order denying CIGNA's motion to enforce the Settlement Agreement and compel an accounting constitutes a post-judgment order that is final and appealable. The district court abused its discretion here by allowing the arbitrator to review the claims that have already been paid. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Managed Care Advisory Group, LLC v. Cigna Healthcare, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Almost two years into active litigation, defendants moved to compel arbitration of this class action brought on behalf of persons who employed the services of PMZ to buy or sell a residence. The court of appeal affirmed the denial of the motion. A motion to compel arbitration is properly denied when the moving party has waived its right to do so, Civ. Proc. Code, 1281.2(a). The California Supreme Court has identified relevant factors: whether the party’s actions are inconsistent with the right to arbitrate; whether the litigation machinery has been substantially invoked and the parties were well into preparation of a lawsuit before the party notified the opposing party of an intent to arbitrate; whether a party either requested arbitration close to the trial date or delayed for a long period before seeking a stay; whether a defendant seeking arbitration filed a counterclaim without asking for a stay; whether important intervening steps [e.g., taking advantage of judicial discovery procedures not available in arbitration] had taken place; and whether the delay affected, misled, or prejudiced the opposing party. The trial court properly applied the factors; its determination that defendants’ delay of nearly two years constituted an unreasonably long period of time, and defendants’ explanation for their delay was unavailing, is “copiously supported by the evidence.” View "Spracher v. Paul M. Zagaris, Inc." on Justia Law

by
RDC is a direct purchaser and wholesaler of Remicade, the brand name of infliximab, a “biologic infusion drug” manufactured by J&J and used to treat inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease. For many years, Remicade was the only infliximab drug available. That position was threatened when the FDA began approving “biosimilars,” produced by other companies and deemed by the FDA to have no clinically meaningful differences from Remicade. RDC alleged that J&J sought to maintain Remicade’s monopoly by engaging in an anticompetitive “Biosimilar Readiness Plan,” which consisted of imposing biosimilar-exclusion contracts on insurers that either require insurers to deny coverage for biosimilars altogether or impose unreasonable preconditions governing coverage; multi-product bundling of J&J’s Remicade with other J&J drugs, biologics, and medical devices; and exclusionary agreements and bundling arrangements with healthcare providers. RDC’s own contractual relationship with J&J is limited to a 2015 Distribution Agreement, which is not alleged to be part of J&J’s Plan. The Agreement contains an arbitration clause, applicable to any claim “arising out of or relating to the Agreement. Reversing the district court, the Third Circuit held that RDC’s antitrust claims do “arise out of or relate to” the Agreement and must be referred to arbitration. View "In re: Remicade (Direct Purchaser) Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law

by
Carol Dalon died in the care of Ocean Springs Health and Rehabilitation Center (OSHRC). As administrator of her estate, Carol’s son Emile Dalon, sued the center for wrongful death, alleging OSHRC and its employees negligently caused Carol’s death. The circuit court granted the defendants’ motion to compel arbitration, and Emile appealed. The Mississippi Supreme Court found Emile presented no evidence he lacked the opportunity to study the arbitration agreement and to inquire about its terms. Emile did not argue he was time pressured when signing the agreement. Additionally, the arbitration agreement explained that Emile had the right to seek legal counsel concerning the arbitration agreement. If Emile had concerns or questions about the arbitration agreement, he could have asked the facility, researched the question on his own, or hired an attorney to assist him. Emile argues he was forced to sign the arbitration agreement in order to get his mother the care she needed. The Court found this claim meritless, concluding Emile entered into the arbitration agreement knowingly and voluntarily. Therefore, the trial court made no reversible error in granting a motion to compel arbitration. View "Dalon v. MS HUD Ocean Springs LLC" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff appealed the district court's grant of Sallie Mae's motion to vacate an arbitration award based on the arbitrator's failure to apply a general release provision in a settlement agreement that barred all of plaintiff's claims. The Second Circuit held that the arbitrator ignored the unambiguous terms of the general release and concluded that the award of statutory damages for a subset of plaintiff's claims was irreconcilable with the arbitrator's determination that plaintiff was a member of the settlement class and that she received adequate notice of its terms; because the arbitrator failed to provide an explanation for these mutually exclusive determinations, the court was unable to ascertain whether the arbitrator adhered to applicable substantive law as required by the parties' arbitration agreement and whether the arbitral award was issued in manifest disregard of the law; and therefore the court vacated and remanded for clarification. View "Weiss v. Sallie Mae, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1–16, places certain arbitration agreements on equal footing with all other contracts, requiring courts to enforce such agreements according to their terms. Section 2 provides that the FAA covers “a written provision in any maritime transaction or a contract evidencing a transaction involving commerce,” but section 1 states that “nothing” in the FAA “shall apply to contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.” Singh brought this putative class action on behalf of New Jersey Uber drivers, alleging that Uber misclassified them as independent contractors rather than employees, which resulted in their being deprived of overtime compensation and incurring business expenses for Uber's benefit. Singh opposed a motion to compel arbitration, arguing that, to the extent that he had an agreement with Uber, it fell within the “any other class of workers” portion of section 1. The court dismissed, concluding that clause only extends to transportation workers who transport goods. The Third Circuit disagreed, citing its “longstanding precedent,” to hold that the residual clause of section 1 may extend to a class of transportation workers who transport passengers if they are engaged in interstate commerce or in work so closely related thereto as to be in practical effect part of it. The court remanded for resolution of the engaged-in-interstate-commerce inquiry. View "Singh v. Uber Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Appellants appealed the denial of their motion to compel arbitration or, in the alternative, motion for judicial review. Appellants' motion stemmed from claims JHBE brought against them for judicial foreclosure and declaratory relief related to a promissory note JHBE entered into with the Boyd Trust, which was secured by a deed of trust. The Court of Appeal affirmed the order denying the motion to compel arbitration. In this case, the parties' dispute is governed by California law, and because the dispute concerns a secured loan and JHBE has not elected to proceed with the arbitration, under paragraph F of the agreement, the dispute cannot be submitted to arbitration. Furthermore, because an order denying judicial reference is not an appealable order, the court granted JHBE's motion to dismiss that portion of the appeal. View "J.H. Boyd Enterprises, Inc. v. Boyd" on Justia Law

by
Goodrich operated chemical-manufacturing plants at a Calvert City, Kentucky industrial site. In 1988, the Environmental Protection Agency designated the site a “Superfund Site” subject to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. 9601. PolyOne and Westlake disputed their share of the cleanup costs. The parties entered a settlement agreement in 2007: PolyOne must reimburse Westlake for 100% of “allocable costs,” and every five years, either party may demand arbitration to modify the amount or allocation of costs. Either party may file a complaint in federal court for a “de novo judicial determination” of which costs are allocable after the arbitration panel has issued an award. The arbitration award becomes null-and-void upon the filing of a complaint; the Agreement prohibits either party from even admitting the arbitration award into evidence. PolyOne requested a declaration that the judicial-relief provision is invalid under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 9 and that the Agreement’s other arbitration provisions are unenforceable. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the denial of injunctive and declaratory relief. PolyOne has a strong case but its prior conduct does not align with its present position. Twice, PolyOne demanded arbitration. PolyOne seeks to enjoin the very arbitration it demanded in 2017. The court withheld judgment on whether PolyOne has waived its ability to challenge the arbitration provisions in the future. View "PolyOne Corp. v. Westlake Vinyls, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Jason Blanks, Peggy Manley, Kimberly Lee, Nancy Watkins, Randall Smith, Trenton Norton, Earl Kelly, Jennifer Scott, and Alyshia Kilgore (referred to collectively as "the customers") appealed the denial of a motion to compel arbitration and a declaratory judgment entered in an action brought by TDS Telecommunications LLC, and its two affiliates, Peoples Telephone Company, Inc., and Butler Telephone Company, Inc. (referred to collectively as "the Internet providers"). The customers subscribed to Internet service furnished by the Internet providers; their relationship was governed by a written "Terms of Service." The customers alleged that the Internet service they have received was slower than the Internet providers promised them. At the time the customers learned that their Internet service was allegedly deficient, the Terms of Service contained an arbitration clause providing that "any controversy or claim arising out of or relating to [the Terms of Service] shall be resolved by binding arbitration at the request of either party." In the declaratory-judgment action, the trial court ruled that the Internet providers were not required to arbitrate disputes with the customers. The Alabama Supreme Court determined the arbitration clause in the applicable version of the Terms of Service included an agreement between the Internet providers and the customers that an arbitrator was to decide issues of arbitrability, which included the issue whether an updated Terms of Service effectively excluded the customers' disputes from arbitration. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court's denial of the customers' motion to compel arbitration and its judgment declaring the updated Terms of Service "valid and enforceable," and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Blanks et al. v. TDS Telecommunications LLC" on Justia Law

by
In this case brought by Plaintiffs seeking to enforce a settlement agreement the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court denying Defendants' motion to compel arbitration, holding that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempts Nev. Rev. Stat. 597.995, which requires agreements that include an arbitration provision also to include a specific authorization for the arbitration provision showing that the parties affirmatively agreed to that provision. The parties in this case entered into a settlement agreement that referenced a licensing agreement that included an arbitration provision. When Plaintiffs sued to enforce the settlement agreement Defendants filed a motion to compel arbitration and dismiss the complaint because the settlement agreement incorporated the licensing agreement's arbitration clause. The district court concluded that the arbitration provision was unenforceable because it did not include the specific authorization required by section 597.995. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the statute did not void the arbitration clause; and (2) the claims in the underlying complaint were subject to arbitration. View "MMAWC, LLC v. Zion Wood Obi Wan Trust" on Justia Law