Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

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Wynlake Residential Association, Inc. ("the homeowners' association"), Wynlake Development, LLC, SERMA Holdings, LLC, Builder1.com, LLC, J. Michael White, Shandi Nickell, and Mary P. White ("the defendants") appealed a circuit court's judgment on an arbitration award entered against them. Because the defendants' appeal was untimely, the Alabama Supreme Court dismissed the appeal. View "Wynlake Residential Association, Inc, et al. v. Hulsey et al." on Justia Law

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In 2017, an arbitrator found that Western Illinois University violated its collective bargaining agreement with respect to layoffs. In 2018, the arbitrator entered a supplemental award, finding that the University failed to comply with the earlier award. The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board then found that the University committed an unfair labor practice in violation of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, 115 ILCS 5/14(a)(1), (8), by failing to comply with the two arbitration awards. The Act requires that public education employers arbitrate disputes arising under a collective bargaining agreement. Refusal to comply with the provisions of a binding arbitration award is an “unfair labor practice” under the Act. The appellate court vacated the Board’s decision.The Illinois Supreme Court agreed. An arbitrator in the public educational labor relations context exceeds his authority by reviewing a party’s compliance with his own award in contravention of the Act, which vests exclusive primary jurisdiction over arbitration awards with the Board. The Board may not limit the evidence it will consider in an unfair labor practice proceeding under the Act to the evidence before the arbitrator. Under the Act, arbitrators retain limited jurisdiction of the awards for the sole purpose of resolving remedial issues that may arise from the award itself. View "Western Illinois University v. Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

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In this California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) case, the Court of Appeal granted the petition for writ of mandate and directed respondent Los Angeles Superior Court to vacate its order awarding attorney fees to Charter and to conduct a new hearing to reconsider Charter's motion for attorney fees. At issue is whether an employer's arbitration agreement authorizes the recovery of attorney fees for a successful motion to compel arbitration of a FEHA lawsuit even if the plaintiff's opposition to arbitration was not frivolous, unreasonable or groundless.The court concluded that, because a fee-shifting clause directed to a motion to compel arbitration, like a general prevailing party fee provision, risks chilling an employee's access to court in a FEHA case absent Government Code section 12965(b)'s asymmetric standard for an award of fees, a prevailing defendant may recover fees in this situation only if it demonstrates the plaintiff's opposition was groundless. In this case, no such finding was made by the superior court in the underlying action before awarding real party in interest Charter its attorney fees after granting Charter's motion to compel petitioner to arbitrate his FEHA claims. View "Patterson v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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Defendant RGIS, LLC (RGIS) appealed a trial court’s order denying its petition to compel arbitration of representative claims under the Private Attorney General Act of 2004 (PAGA). In denying the petition, the trial court followed the California Supreme Court’s decision in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC, 59 Cal.4th 348 (2014), which held that individual employees cannot contractually waive their right to bring a representative action under the PAGA, and this state law rule was not preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). RGIS argued that the Supreme Court’s holding in Iskanian was subsequently abrogated by the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Epic Systems Corporation v. Lewis, __ U.S. __ [138 S.Ct. 1612] (2018). The Court of Appeal found, however, that Epic Systems did not consider the same issue concerning the nonwaivable nature of PAGA claims decided by Iskanian. Accordingly, and along with every published appellate decision that has decided this issue, the Court rejected the argument and followed Iskanian. Although it agreed with the multitude of reported cases addressing this issue, the Court published this opinion because this was an issue of first impression for this district. View "Williams v. RGIS, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's ruling that an arbitration clause found in Walmart.com's terms of use was unenforceable against purchasers of gift cards. In this case, plaintiffs filed suit against Walmart after gift cards they purchased turned out to be worthless because third parties tampered with, and stole the funds on, the gift cards. Walmart sought to compel arbitration based on a notation on the back of the gift cards directing purchasers to see Walmart.com for complete terms.The court concluded, under the point-of-purchase theory, that the parties did not enter into a binding arbitration agreement at the moment plaintiffs purchased their gift cards because Walmart did not state that it wished to have the arbitration agreement bind the parties at the moment of purchase. Rather, the arbitration provision states that a customer accepts arbitration only by using or accessing the Walmart Sites. While the parties do not dispute that this case involves a browsewrap agreement, the court concluded that material disputes of fact exists on the question of whether the parties agreed to arbitration. The court explained that material disputes exist regarding whether plaintiffs used the website, whether the design of the website was sufficient to give a reasonable browser notice of the arbitration, and whether the language on the card was sufficient to put the buyer on notice. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Foster v. Walmart, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court affirming the judgment of the superior court dismissing as untimely Plaintiff's application to vacate an arbitration award, holding that the thirty-day limitation period set forth in Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-420(b) applied to Plaintiff's application to vacate.The trial court concluded that Plaintiff's application to vacate an arbitration award rendered in favor of Defendants was untimely under section 52-420(b) because the application was filed more than thirty days after Plaintiff received notice of the arbitration award. The appellate court affirmed. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the appellate court erred in concluding that its application to vacate the arbitration award was governed by section 52-420(b), in contravention of a private agreement between the parties. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly held that section 52-420(b) applied to Plaintiff's application to vacate. View "A Better Way Wholesale Autos, Inc. v. Saint Paul" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion confirming an Indian arbitration award and enjoined further litigation. In this case, after defendant secured an arbitral award for his maritime injuries, he continued to pursue litigation against the alleged wrongdoers and disputes that there was an enforceable agreement to arbitrate at all.The court rejected defendant's contention that the district court lost its jurisdiction to enforce the award in 2002, when it remanded the pre-arbitration suit to state court. Rather, the court concluded that the remand order lacked preclusive effect and the district court had subject matter jurisdiction to confirm the arbitral award. The court further concluded that it was precluded from from revisiting the issue of whether the deed contains an enforceable arbitration clause. Likewise, defendant's argument that Neptune's signature was required would have fared no better in this court. Finally, the court concluded that the state court's ruling is preclusive on the question of whether the district court erred in barring him from litigating against Talmidge, American Eagle, and Britannia because only Neptune was a party to the deed. View "Neptune Shipmanagement Services PTE, Ltd. v. Dahiya" on Justia Law

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Timothy and Rebecca Hillhouse entered into a contract with Chris Cook Construction for the construction of their home. The contract contained an arbitration provision mandating that arbitration be conducted before a forum that was unavailable at the time the contract was executed. The trial court entered an order compelling arbitration and appointing an arbitrator. The Mississippi Supreme Court concluded the trial court erred in so doing: because the forum was a contract requirement, the arbitration provision was unenforceable, and appointing an arbitrator required courts to reform the contractual agreement between the parties. Judgment was reversed and the trial court’s order compelling arbitration and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Hillhouse v. Chris Cook Construction, LLC, et al." on Justia Law

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Caballero, who reads and writes only in Spanish, signed a two-page “RESIDENT FACILITY ARBITRATION AGREEMENT” when his mother, Maria, was admitted to Premier Care. The Arbitration Agreement is in English. Three years after signing the agreement Caballero and his siblings brought a wrongful death action against Premier Care and others. In denying Premier Care’s petition to compel arbitration, the trial court found it had failed to sufficiently inform Caballero of the Arbitration Agreement’s contents.The court of appeal reversed. A party who does not understand English sufficiently to comprehend the contents of a contract in that language is required to “have . . . it read or explained to him.” Caballero signed the Arbitration Agreement notwithstanding his limited English skills and that neither Caballero nor any family member provided evidence of the circumstances surrounding the signing. The Premier Care representative also had no specific recollection of the transaction, so there is no evidence that Caballero either requested assistance in understanding the document or was prevented from obtaining such assistance. The Arbitration Agreement complies with the requirements of Code of Civil Procedure section 1295 for arbitration clauses in medical service contracts and “is not a contract of adhesion, nor unconscionable nor otherwise improper.” View "Caballero v. Premier Care Simi Valley, LLC" on Justia Law

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After Holdings defaulted on a loan to purchase a commercial aircraft, Banc filed suit alleging that Holdings breached the terms of the loan documents in various respects. Banc also alleged it had a right to sell the aircraft in the possession of Jet Edge as collateral for the loan and to recover money owed by Jet Edge to Holdings based on a subordination agreement. Furthermore, Banc asserted claims for breach of the aircraft usage agreement and conversion. The trial court granted Holdings and Jet Edge's petition to compel arbitration, finding that the American Arbitration Association (AAA) rules provided for delegation of the determination of whether the parties' dispute arose out of the arbitration clause and thus the arbitrator should decide whether Banc's claims were arbitrable.The Court of Appeal granted Banc's petition for writ of mandate compelling the trial court to vacate its order granting Holdings's petition to compel arbitration. The court agreed with Banc that the trial court erred in relying on the Supreme Court's decision in Henry Schein, Inc. v. Archer and White Sales, Inc. (2019) ___ U.S. ___ [139 S.Ct. 524, 529]. The court explained that the court, in Schein, considered who should decide whether the parties' dispute arising from a specific contract with an arbitration clause was arbitrable. In this case, however, the question on Holdings's petition to compel arbitration was whether the parties agreed to arbitrate their dispute over the loan documents, which did not have arbitration clauses, a question the court must decide in the first instance. View "Banc of California, NA v. Superior Court" on Justia Law