Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

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The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's order denying LMB's motion to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) in an action brought by plaintiff under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The panel concluded that, because the district court mistakenly issued a nonfinal order denying LMB’s motion to compel arbitration, while stating its intent to schedule a trial to resolve the factual issues, the panel has jurisdiction to consider this appeal under 9 U.S.C. 16.However, the panel held that, under 9 U.S.C. 4, once a district court concludes that there are genuine disputes of material fact as to whether the parties formed an arbitration agreement, the district court must proceed without delay to a trial on arbitrability and hold any motion to compel arbitration in abeyance until the factual issues have been resolved. In this case, LMB challenges the district court's determination that there are genuine disputes of material fact on arbitrability. Therefore, in order to further Congress's clear intent in the FAA to move the parties to an arbitrable dispute out of court and into arbitration as quickly and easily as possible, the panel vacated the district court's erroneous denial of the motion to compel and remanded for the district court to proceed summarily to the trial on the question whether plaintiff is bound by the arbitration agreement. View "Hansen v. LMB Mortgage Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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Soliman entered a California Subway sandwich shop. An employee showed her an in-store, hard-copy advertisement, on which Subway offered to send special offers if she texted a keyword. Soliman sent a text message to Subway. Subway began sending her, via text message, hyperlinks to electronic coupons. Soliman alleges that she later requested by text that Subway stop sending her messages, but her request was ignored. She filed suit under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Subway moved to compel arbitration, arguing that a contract was formed because the in-store advertisement, from which Soliman got the keyword and shortcode, included a reference to terms and conditions, including an arbitration requirement, located on Subway’s website and provided the URL.The Second Circuit affirmed the denial of the motion to compel arbitration. Under California law, Soliman was not bound by the arbitration provision because Subway did not provide reasonably conspicuous notice that she was agreeing to the terms on the website. Because of barriers relating to the design and content of the print advertisement, and the accessibility and language of the website itself, the terms and conditions were not reasonably conspicuous under the totality of the circumstances; a reasonable consumer would not realize she was being bound to such terms by sending a text message to Subway in order to receive promotional offers. View "Soliman v. Subway Franchisee Advert. Fund Trust, Ltd." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Defendants Sachse, Ameriprise, and individual Ameriprise officers, alleging violations of federal securities law. Plaintiff also sought to represent other Sachse and Ameriprise clients in a class action. Defendants filed motions to strike plaintiff's class action allegations and to compel arbitration, which the district court denied.The Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded for entry of an order striking plaintiff's class action allegations and compelling arbitration. The court concluded that it has appellate jurisdiction to review the district court's denial of defendants' motions to strike class action allegations because this denial was contained in an order reviewable under 9 U.S.C. 16(a)(1)(B). The court also concluded that defendants have not waived their right to arbitrate by moving to strike plaintiff's class action allegations at the same time they moved to compel arbitration where the action was not inconsistent with their right to arbitrate and did not substantially invoke the litigation machinery. On the merits, the court concluded that a valid arbitration clause exists and that it encompasses the dispute between the parties. In this case, the court agreed with defendants that the arbitration clause was valid because it was supported by mutual assent, was supported by consideration, and was not unconscionable. View "Donelson v. Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court refusing to compel arbitration in this case alleging violations of the West Virginia Human Rights Act, W. Va. Code 5-11-1 to -20, holding that the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) could not enforce the arbitration agreement.Plaintiff, a nurse who formerly worked for Sunbelt Staffing, LLC, signed an employment agreement containing an arbitration provision. Plaintiff was assigned to work at a hospital under DHHR's direction but later was informed she was not eligible to return to work for DHHR. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint against DHHR and others, alleging violations of the Act. DHHR moved to dismiss the amended complaint and to compel arbitration. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) DHHR had no right to invoke arbitration contained in the employment agreement; and (2) the theory of estoppel did not require arbitration. View "W. Va. Department of Health & Human Resources v. Denise" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions to deny IEVM's motion to compel arbitration and to enter judgment for UEG. The court concluded that the parties failed to contract around the general rule that courts resolve litigation-conduct waivers. Therefore, the arbitrators exceeded their authority in resolving the issue here.Applying the substantial invocation analysis, the court concluded that IEVM substantially invoked the judicial process to UEG's detriment. In this case, IEVM sued UEG in state court without saying anything about arbitration; demanded a jury trial and paid the required fee; filed a motion to remand the action to state court and appealed the district court's denial of that motion; vigorously defended the existence of personal jurisdiction in Texas and appealed the district court's personal jurisdiction dismissal; and sought rehearing en banc after this court affirmed the district court's removal and jurisdictional holdings. Furthermore, UEG has made the requisite showing of prejudice where, among other things, IEVM's persistent pursuit of litigation required UEG to defend its interests, and UEG incurred significant fees and costs. View "International Energy Ventures Management, LLC v. United Energy Group, Ltd." on Justia Law

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The Labor Management Relations Act forbids employers from directly giving money to unions, 29 U.S.C. 186(a); an exception allows an employer and a union to operate a trust fund for the benefit of employees. Section 186(c)(5)(B) requires the trust agreement to provide that an arbitrator will resolve any “deadlock on the administration of such fund.” Several construction companies and one union established a trust fund to subsidize employee vacations. Six trustees oversaw the fund, which is a tax-exempt entity under ERISA 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(9). A disagreement arose over whether the trust needed to amend a tax return. Three trustees, those selected by the companies, filed suit, seeking authority to amend the tax return. The three union-appointed trustees intervened, arguing that the dispute belongs in arbitration.The court agreed and dismissed the complaint. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. While ERISA plan participants or beneficiaries may sue for a breach of statutory fiduciary duty in federal court without exhausting internal remedial procedures, this complaint did not allege a breach of fiduciary duties but rather alleges that the employer trustees’ own fiduciary duties compelled them to file the action to maintain the trust’s compliance with tax laws. These claims were “not directly adversarial to the [union trustees] or to the Fund.” View "Baker v. Iron Workers Local 25" on Justia Law

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Scott and Janet Lopas filed suit against, among others, Performance Builders, LLC, Chris White, Shana Tyler Clark, and DSKAT Holdings, LLC, d/b/a A-Pro Home Inspection Services Birmingham (collectively, "the movants") asserting various causes of actions based on the inspection, appraisal, and sale of a piece of real property purchased by the Lopases. The movants moved to compel arbitration of the Lopases' claims, which the circuit court denied. The movants appealed the circuit court's order. After review, the Alabama Supreme Court concluded the movants met their burden of establishing the existence of an agreement containing an arbitration provision between the parties, and that that agreement involved a transaction affecting interstate commerce. Furthermore, the arbitration provision dictated that the issue of enforceability raised by the Lopases had to be submitted to the arbitrator for determination. Therefore, the circuit court's order denying the movants' motion to compel arbitration was reversed. View "Performance Builders, LLC, et al. v. Lopas" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the trial court denying Aerotek, Inc.'s motion to compel arbitration, holding that an alleged signatory's simple denial that he signed the record was insufficient to prevent attribution of an electronic signature to him.Plaintiffs, four individuals, were hired by Aerotek to work as contractors on a construction project. After all four were terminated, they sued Aerotek and others for racial discrimination and retaliation. Aerotek moved to compel arbitration based on an online-only hiring application that each employee had completed. Plaintiffs opposed the motion, arguing that they had completed the online hiring application but denying that they had ever seen or signed a mutual arbitration agreement (MAA) within the application. The trial court denied the motion to compel arbitration. The court of appeals affirmed, rejecting Aerotek's argument that it had conclusively established the validity of the MAAs. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Aerotek conclusively established that Plaintiffs signed, and therefore consented to, the MAAs; and (2) therefore, the trial court erred in denying Aerotek's motion to compel arbitration. View "Aerotek, Inc. v. Boyd" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals determining that the confirmation of an arbitration award had been issued prematurely, holding that although Ohio Rev. Code 2711.13 imposes a three-month deadline for motions to vacate, modify, or correct arbitration awards, that period is a maximum time that is not guaranteed.At issue was whether section 2711.13 requires a trial court to wait three months before confirming an arbitration award when the party opposing confirmation informs the trial court that it intends to file a motion to vacate, modify, or correct under section 2711.10 or 2711.11. The Supreme Court held that section 2711.13 does not operate as an automatic stay on confirmation of an arbitration award but, rather, requires parties opposed to the confirmation to be diligent in seeking to vacate, modify, or correct it. View "BST Ohio Corp. v. Wolgang" on Justia Law

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At issue in this labor dispute case is who decides whether the arbitrator was validly (i.e., mutually rather than unilaterally) appointed: the challenged arbitrator himself, or instead a court. The district court concluded that the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) assigns to the arbitrator himself the authority to determine the validity of his own appointment.The DC Circuit vacated the district court's judgment and remanded for the district court to determine whether the challenged arbitrator was validly appointed. The court concluded that the dispute over the arbitrator's appointment involves the kind of question that is presumptively for judicial rather than arbitral resolution. The court also concluded that the parties' CBA does not overcome this presumption through a clear and unmistakable assignment of power to the challenged arbitrator himself to decide the validity of his own appointment. View "District No. 1, Pacific Coast District, Marine Engineers' Beneficial Ass'n v. Liberty Maritime Corp." on Justia Law