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A condominium association, Dakota Station II Condominium, filed two claims with its insurer, Owners Insurance Company, for weather damage. The parties couldn’t agree on the money owed, so Dakota invoked the appraisal provision of its insurance policy. The parties each selected an appraiser, putting the rest of the provision’s terms into motion. Ultimately, the appraisers submitted conflicting value estimates to an umpire, and the umpire issued a final award, accepting some estimates from each appraiser. Dakota’s appraiser signed onto the award, and Owners paid Dakota. Owners later moved to vacate the award, arguing that Dakota’s appraiser was not “impartial” as required by the insurance policy’s appraisal provision and that she failed to disclose material facts. The trial court disagreed and “dismissed” the motion to vacate. A division of the court of appeals affirmed. In its review, the Colorado Supreme Court interpreted the policy’s impartiality requirement and determined whether a contingent-cap fee agreement between Dakota and its appraiser rendered the appraiser partial as a matter of law. The Court concluded the plain language of the policy required appraisers to be unbiased, disinterested, and unswayed by personal interest, and the contingent-cap fee agreement didn’t render Dakota’s appraiser partial as a matter of law. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals with respect to the contingent-cap fee agreement, reversed with respect to the impartiality requirement, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Owners Ins. v. Dakota Station II Condo. Ass'n" on Justia Law

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Several former employees of Alabama Psychiatric Services, P.C. ("APS"), filed a putative class action against APS and Managed Health Care Administration, Inc. ("MHCA"), an affiliate of APS, alleging APS had not paid the former employees for unused vacation time after they lost their jobs when APS went out of business. APS and MHCA moved the circuit court to compel arbitration pursuant to arbitration agreements the plaintiffs had entered into with APS. APS and MHCA asked the circuit court to determine, as a threshold question, whether class arbitration was available in this case because the arbitration agreements at issue did not expressly mention class arbitration. The circuit court issued an order granting the motion to compel arbitration, declining to decide whether class arbitration was available, concluding that that issue was to be decided by the arbitrator. The case proceeded to arbitration. The arbitrator issued a clause-construction award ("the award"), concluding that the relevant arbitration agreements authorized class arbitration in this case. APS and MHCA sought review of the award by the circuit court, which denied the motion to vacate the arbitrator’s award. The parties then applied to the Alabama Supreme Court, which noted multiple procedural irregularities in the circuit court’s order. The issue of whether the circuit court erred regarding its order not vacating the arbitration agreement was not properly before the Supreme Court. APS and MHCA attempted to challenge that part of the order compelling arbitration in which the circuit court declined to decide the availability of class arbitration. However, to properly challenge that aspect of the earlier order, APS and MHCA should have appealed the order. APS and MHCA also argued the circuit court erred by failing to apply a de novo standard of review of the arbitrator’s award. The Supreme Court determined the circuit court did not err in this respect. The Supreme Court therefore affirmed the circuit court in denying the motion to vacate the arbitrator’s award, and dismissed appeal 1171150 as redundant. View "Alabama Psychiatric Services, P.C. v. Lazenby et al." on Justia Law

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In this construction dispute between a property owner and a general contractor the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court that, in the absence of clear evidence of contrary intent by the parties, subcontractors are presumptively in privity with the general contractor for purposes of res judicata as to the subcontractors' claims that did not participate in arbitration. These appeals arose from disputes regarding the construction of a store expansion. Plaintiffs, the store owners, and the general contractor, pursuant to a contract between them, entered arbitration to resolve various disputes regarding the project. None of the five subcontractors (Defendants) were formally a party to the arbitration. The arbitrator issued an award ordering Plaintiffs to pay the general contractor $508,597 for sums due. Plaintiffs subsequently filed suit seeking to recover from Defendants. Defendants moved for summary judgment based on res judicata. The trial court denied the motions on the grounds that Defendants were not parties to the arbitration and were not in privity with the general contractor. The appellate court reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendants were in privity with the general contractor for purposes of res judicata and that Plaintiffs' claims were barred because they could have been raising during the arbitration. View "Girolametti v. Michael Horton Associates, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's order compelling arbitration of her federal age discrimination action against OneMain. The Fifth Circuit held that, although the district court correctly rejected plaintiff's meeting of the minds argument, it erroneously referred her procedural unconscionability challenge to the arbitrator. In this case, procedural unconscionability goes to contract formation under Mississippi law, and thus the district court should have ruled on this objection. Therefore, the court reversed and vacated the order, remanding for the district court to decide on the merits of the procedural unconscionability claim. View "Bowles v. OneMain Financial Group, LLC" on Justia Law

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Douglas Schoninger was interested in launching a professional rugby league in the United States. Toward that end, he formed PRO Rugby and approached the United States of America Rugby Football Union (“USAR”), the national governing body for rugby in the United States. PRO Rugby and USAR entered into the Sanction Agreement, which authorized PRO Rugby to establish a professional rugby league in the United States. At issue before the Colorado Supreme Court in this appeal was whether a nonsignatory to an arbitration agreement could be required to arbitrate under that agreement by virtue of the fact that it was a purported agent of a signatory to the agreement. Specifically, the Court was asked to decide whether the district court erred when it entered an order requiring petitioner Rugby International Marketing (“RIM”), a nonsignatory to a Professional Rugby Sanction Agreement (the “Sanction Agreement”), to arbitrate pursuant to an arbitration provision in that Agreement that covered the parties and their agents. The court found that because RIM was an agent for USAR, a signatory of the Sanction Agreement, RIM fell “squarely within the broad language of the arbitration provision.” The Supreme Court found that the weight of authority nationally established that, subject to a number of recognized exceptions, only parties to an agreement containing an arbitration provision could compel or be subject to arbitration. Here, because RIM was not a party to the Sanction Agreement and because respondents PRO Rugby and Schoninger had not established any of the recognized exceptions applied, the Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in determining that RIM was subject to arbitration under the Sanction Agreement. View "In re N.A. Rugby Union v. U.S. Rugby Football Union" on Justia Law

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In this lawsuit between AllyAlign Health, Inc. and Signature Advantage, LLC the Supreme Court granted AllyAlign's motion for an order to compel arbitration of all claims, holding that a carve-out provision in the parties' contract for certain claims to be decided by a court did not negate the mandate of the Commercial Arbitration Rules and Arbitration Procedures of the American Arbitration Association (AAA's Rules) that the initial arbitrability of claims is to be determined by the arbitrator, not the courts. AllyAlign contracted with Signature Advantage for AllyAlign's services. The contract contained an arbitration provision incorporating the AAA's Rules. Signature Advantage later sued AllyAlign for breach of contract and other claims. AllyAlign moved to compel arbitration on all the claims based on the AAA's Rules that delegate to the arbitrator the initial decision about the arbitrability of claims arising between the parties. In response, Signature Advantage argued that the language of the carve-out provision exempted equitable claims from arbitration. The trial court granted in part the motion to compel arbitration but denied the motion for the claims it found to demand equitable relief. The Supreme Court compelled arbitration of all claims, holding that the trial court's order declining to refer all the claims of the complaint was erroneous. View "AllyAlign Health, Inc. v. Signature Advantage, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court denying Defendant's motion to confirm an arbitration award in Defendant's favor, holding that the trial justice properly exercised his discretion when he determined, under the circumstances, that Plaintiff's corrected electronic filing rejecting the arbitration award was prompt. In the underlying legal malpractice action Plaintiff alleged that Defendant, his former attorney, had failed properly to record a property settlement agreement that had been executed by Plaintiff and his ex-wife during the course of their divorce proceeding. The action proceeded to arbitration, and an arbitration award was issued in favor of Defendant. Plaintiff rejected the arbitration award using the superior court's electronic filing system but used an incorrect filing code. When Plaintiff learned of his error he attempted a correct filing. That filing was rejected because the statutory filing period had expired. The Supreme Court affirmed the superior court's denial of Defendant's motion to confirm the arbitration award, holding that Plaintiff's correct filing was properly considered timely. View "Richard v. Robinson" on Justia Law

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At issue were claims of fraudulent sales practices by two car dealerships that allegedly induced consumers to enter into agreements for the purchase of cars. The question presented for the New Jersey Supreme Court’s review was whether plaintiffs could avoid being compelled to arbitrate those claims. Plaintiffs challenged the formation and validity of their sales agreements on the bases that the dealerships’ fraudulent practices and misrepresentations induced them to sign the transactional documents and that the agreements were invalid due to violations of statutory consumer fraud requirements. As part of the overall set of documents, plaintiffs signed arbitration agreements. Those agreements contained straightforward and conspicuous language that broadly delegated arbitrability issues. Each trial court determined the arbitration agreements to be enforceable and entered orders compelling plaintiffs to litigate their various claims challenging the overall validity of the sales contracts in the arbitral forum. The Appellate Division reversed those orders. The Supreme Court reversed: “the trial courts’ resolution of these matters was correct and consistent with clear rulings from the United States Supreme Court that bind state and federal courts on how challenges such as plaintiffs’ should proceed. Those rulings do not permit threshold issues about overall contract validity to be resolved by the courts when the arbitration agreement itself is not specifically challenged. Here, plaintiffs attack the sales contracts in their entirety, not the language or clarity of the agreements to arbitrate or the broad delegation clauses contained in those signed arbitration agreements.” View "Goffe v. Foulke Management Corp." on Justia Law

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Farmers brought an interlocutory appeal of the district court's rulings interpreting an arbitration agreement in an employment contract. The Eighth Circuit dismissed the appeal based on lack of jurisdiction, holding that when a district court enters a stay instead of a dismissal, that order is not appealable. In this case, the district court's decision stayed the case pending arbitration, but did not dismiss the claims. The court held that it lacked jurisdiction under 9 U.S.C. 16(a)(1)(B) absent an order denying arbitration outright, and the court declined to apply the collateral order doctrine to find jurisdiction in this case. View "Webb v. Farmers of North America, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit vacated a petition for a writ of mandamus seeking to vacate the district court’s order compelling arbitration of claims that UPS overcharged retail customers who shipped packages through third-party facilities by applying Delivery Surcharge Rates higher than the rates UPS advertised. The panel applied California law and held that the district court's order determining that the parties had entered into a binding arbitration agreement was not clearly erroneous as a matter of law. Therefore, the extraordinary remedy of mandamus was not warranted, because plaintiff unequivocally assented to online terms that incorporated the document containing the arbitration clause in question. View "Holl v. United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Oakland" on Justia Law