Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

by
Defendants Silverado Senior Living Management, Inc., and Subtenant 350 W. Bay Street, LLC dba Silverado Senior Living – Newport Mesa appealed a trial court's denial of its petition to compel arbitration of the complaint filed by plaintiffs Diane Holley, both individually and as successor in interest to Elizabeth S. Holley, and James Holley. Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants, who operated a senior living facility, for elder abuse and neglect, negligence, and wrongful death, based on defendants’ alleged substandard treatment of Elizabeth. More than eight months after the complaint was filed, defendants moved to arbitrate based on an arbitration agreement Diane had signed upon Elizabeth’s admission. At the time, Diane and James were temporary conservators of Elizabeth’s person. The court denied the motion, finding that at the time Diane signed the document, there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate she had the authority to bind Elizabeth to the arbitration agreement. Defendants argued the court erred in this ruling as a matter of law, and that pursuant to the Probate Code, the agreement to arbitrate was a “health care decision” to which a conservator had the authority to bind a conservatee. Defendants relied on a case from the Third District Court of Appeal, Hutcheson v. Eskaton FountainWood Lodge, 17 Cal.App.5th 937 (2017). After review, the Court of Appeal concluded that Hutcheson and other cases on which defendants relied are distinguishable on the facts and relevant legal principles. "When the Holleys signed the arbitration agreement, they were temporary conservators of Elizabeth’s person, and therefore, they lacked the power to bind Elizabeth to an agreement giving up substantial rights without her consent or a prior adjudication of her lack of capacity. Further, as merely temporary conservators, the Holleys were constrained, as a general matter, from making long-term decisions without prior court approval." Accordingly, the trial court was correct that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable as to Elizabeth. Furthermore, because there was no substantial evidence that the Holleys intended to sign the arbitration agreement on their own behalf, it could not be enforced against their individual claims. The Courttherefore affirmed the trial court’s order denial to compel arbitration. View "Holley v. Silverado Senior Living Management" on Justia Law

by
The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court's order denying DIRECTV's motion to compel arbitration in an action brought by plaintiff, alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Plaintiff alleged that defendants called her cell phone to advertise DIRECTV products and services even though her telephone number is listed on the National Do Not Call Registry. Because plaintiff signed an acknowledgement expressly agreeing to the arbitration provision of the Wireless Customer Agreement with AT&T, which provision applies to her as an authorized user, the court rejected plaintiff's argument that she did not form an agreement to arbitrate. The court held that plaintiff formed an agreement to arbitrate with DIRECTV where the ordinary meaning of "affiliates" and the contractual context convinced the court that the term includes affiliates acquired after the agreement was signed. Furthermore, in light of the expansive text of the arbitration agreement, the categories of claims it specifically includes, and the parties' instruction to interpret its provisions broadly, the court must conclude that plaintiff's TCPA claims fall within the scope of the arbitration agreement. Therefore, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Mey v. DIRECTV, LLC" on Justia Law

by
Grubhub, an online and mobile food-ordering and delivery marketplace, considers its delivery drivers to be independent contractors rather than employees. The plaintiffs alleged, in separate suits, that Grubhub violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay them overtime but each plaintiff had signed a “Delivery Service Provider Agreement” that required them to submit to arbitration for “any and all claims” arising out of their relationship with Grubhub. Grubhub moved to compel arbitration. The plaintiffs responded that their Grubhub contracts were exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). Section 1 of the FAA provides that “nothing herein contained shall apply to contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce,” 9 U.S.C. 1. Both district courts compelled arbitration. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The FAA carves out a narrow exception to the obligation of federal courts to enforce arbitration agreements. To show that they fall within this exception, the plaintiffs had to demonstrate that the interstate movement of goods was a central part of the job description of the class of workers to which they belong. They did not even try to do that. View "Wallace v. Grubhub Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

by
David and Jill Landrum began developing land in Livingston, Madison County, Mississippi, in approximately 2006. David sought financial assistance from Michael Sharpe. Michael invested substantial sums in the business, and his wife, Marna Sharpe, gained a membership interest in the business. In 2010, Livingston Holdings, LLC (Livingston), a Mississippi limited-liability company, was formed. The original members of the company were Jill, Marna, and Sara Williams. Livingston acquired Williams’s ownership interests, and Marna later assigned her membership interest to B&S Holdings, LLC (B&S). The development became the Town of Livingston. The members of Livingston consisted of B&S and Jill. In this dispute between the members of the limited-liability company, the question presented for the Mississippi Supreme Court's review was whether statutory provisions prevented the enforcement of an arbitration provision and waiver contained in the operating agreement of the company. Because the Court determined the statutory provisions did not control over the terms of the operating agreement, it affirmed the trial court’s decision to compel arbitration. View "B&S MS Holdings, LLC v. Landrum" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of the union's claims against Trane concerning an arbitration award. In this case, the June Award indicated that the arbitrator did not intend for it to be final because he explicitly retained jurisdiction "until the terms of the award are met." When a dispute did arise regarding damages, the arbitrator resolved that dispute in the September Award and then expressly stated that he was "no longer retaining jurisdiction in this matter." Therefore, the express relinquishment of jurisdiction in the September Award indicated that the arbitrator intended the September Award to be final and did not contemplate further disputes regarding the award. The court held that the union is not time-barred from seeking to vacate the arbitration award because the text of the June Award indicates that it was not the final award. The court stated that the September Award is the final award and the union filed its claim to vacate within 90 days of it. Therefore, the union's claim was timely and the district court erred in concluding otherwise. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "International Union v. Trane U.S. Inc." on Justia Law

by
ABM appealed the district court's denial of its motion to confirm an arbitration award and granting in part the union's motion to vacate the award, under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA). In this case, the arbitrator issued an opinion and award, concluding that two employees were not entitled to termination pay and directing them to repay certain amounts to ABM. The district court denied the motion to confirm the arbitrator's award, concluding that the award was ultra vires and unenforceable. The Second Circuit held that the arbitrator did not exceed her authority because, under both agency law principles and federal labor law, the union possessed the authority to bind the employees to the arbitration award. The court stated that the district court plainly erred by reasoning that no precedent or authority supported the proposition that a union can bind its members to make payments ordered by an arbitrator under an arbitration agreement to which they were not signatories, following a process in which they did not participate. Rather, the court held that the record is clear that the employees did participate in the arbitration proceeding and the union possessed both agency and statutory authority to appear in the arbitration on their behalf. View "ABM Industry Groups, LLC v. International Union of Operating Engineers" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs, aggrieved distributors, filed a putative class action alleging that Herbalife and the top distributors who manage the "Circle of Success" events violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by conducting the affairs of a racketeering enterprise and by conspiring to do so. The district court denied Herbalife's motion to compel arbitration of the aggrieved distributors' claims against the top distributors and denied the motion to transfer those claims to the Central District of California. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court correctly denied the top distributors' motion to compel arbitration, because none of the top distributors is a party to any of the aggrieved distributors' agreements and thus they cannot invoke the agreements' arbitration clauses; the district court was correct to resolve the motion to compel arbitration instead of immediately sending it to an arbitrator; and the district court correctly declined to apply equitable estoppel to compel arbitration of the aggrieved distributors' claims against the top distributors. Finally, the court held that it is without jurisdiction to review whether the district court erred in denying the motion to transfer venue. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and dismissed in part. View "Lavigne v. Herbalife, Ltd." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court denying Defendant's motion to compel arbitration of Plaintiff's claims that Defendant had engaged in improper debt collection practices and debt collection regulations, holding that there was no error in the denial of Defendant's motion to compel arbitration. Plaintiff allegedly owed debt to Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company of Boston, LLC for damage to a rental vehicle. Enterprise assigned the debt to Defendant for collection. Plaintiff filed a class action complaint against Defendant, alleging that Defendant made too frequent phone contact with him and other debtors. Defendant sought to compel arbitration of Plaintiff's claims pursuant to the rental contract between Plaintiff and Enterprise. The superior court denied the motion to compel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that reasonable minds could differ as to whether the arbitration provision in the contract was applicable to claims brought against Defendant, and therefore, Defendant did not put forth the clear and definite evidence of intent that it must to be entitled to enforce the arbitration provision as a third-party beneficiary. View "Landry v. Transworld Systems Inc." on Justia Law

by
FCE administered health insurance policies underwritten by the Insurers. After a few years, the Insurers became dissatisfied with FCE’s performance and invoked the Agreement’s arbitration clause. In Phase I of the arbitration, the arbitrators awarded the Insurers damages of more than five million dollars. The Insurers attempted to confirm this award under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 9, but the district court concluded that the case was not yet ripe for adjudication. The arbitrators had not yet resolved all matters that had been submitted to them. In Phase II, the arbitrators denied the Insurers’ remaining claim for reimbursement of excessive administrative fees and FCE’s counterclaim for lost profits. The district court confirmed the arbitration results in their entirety. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The court rejected FCE’s arguments that the Phase II Award superseded the Phase I Award such that the district court could confirm only the Phase II Award; that part of the Phase I Award must be vacated because the arbitrators exceeded their authority by hearing and deciding the Insurers’ indemnification claims; and that it was reversible error for the court to confirm the portion of the Phase I Award labeled as damages for “embezzlement.” View "Standard Security Life Insurance Co. of New York v. FCE Benefit Administrators, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's order denying Fantasy's petitions to compel arbitration in two actions involving substantially similar wage and hour allegations. Plaintiffs both signed settlement agreements with Fantasy in 2014 in connection with a case called Guerra v. Fantasy Activewear, Inc. (LASC No. BC517633) containing the arbitration clauses at issue. The court held that plaintiffs were not acting as agents of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) when they entered into their settlement agreements with AW and DF. Because plaintiffs were not acting as agents of the state when they entered into the arbitration agreements at issue here, the court held that Fantasy has identified no arbitration agreement that would bind the real party in interest—the state—to arbitration, even of the question of arbitrability. View "Bautista v. Fantasy Activewear, Inc." on Justia Law