Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

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Jarboe was hired by DKD of Davis, doing business as Hanlees Davis Toyota. Shortly after he began working, Jarboe was transferred to Leehan of Davis, doing business as Hanlees Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Kia. Following his termination at Leehan, Jarboe brought a wage and hour action against the Hanlees Auto Group, its 12 affiliated dealerships, including DKD and Leehan, and three individuals. The defendants moved to compel arbitration based on an employment agreement between Jarboe and DKD. The trial court granted the motion as to 11 of the 12 causes of action against DKD of Davis but denied the motion as to the other defendants and allowed Jarboe’s claim under the Private Attorneys General Act, Labor Code 2698. to proceed in court against all defendants. The court refused to stay the causes of action allowed to proceed in litigation pending arbitration of Jarboe’s claims against DKD. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting an argument by Hanlees, its affiliated dealerships, and the individual defendants that they were entitled to enforce the agreement to arbitrate between Jarboe and DKD as third party beneficiaries of Jarboe’s employment agreement or under the doctrine of equitable estoppel. The trial court did not err in failing to stay the litigation under Labor Code section 1281. View "Jarboe v. Hanlees Auto Group" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's order compelling arbitration, holding that plaintiff is not exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) under the Transportation Worker Exemption. Plaintiff primarily supervised 25 part-time and 2 full-time ticketing and gate agents at the airport. In this case, plaintiff's duties could at most be construed as loading and unloading airplanes. The court held that plaintiff was not engaged in an aircraft's actual movement in interstate commerce. Therefore, the exemption in the FAA does not apply to her and arbitration was validly ordered to resolve her dispute. View "Eastus v. ISS Facility Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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Noe hired attorney Dorit to evaluate the medical records of Noe’s deceased mother for a potential medical malpractice suit. Noe agreed to pay Dorit a $10,000 non-refundable retainer fee, intended to cover Dorit’s time spent evaluating the claim, plus “the costs of additional medical records and/or expert medical review if indicated.” The agreement stated, “Should there arise any disagreement as to the amount of attorney fees and/or costs, Client agrees to enter into binding arbitration of such issue or dispute before the Bar Association of San Francisco.” Ultimately, Dorit said he did not think a malpractice claim was viable. Noe later asked Dorit to return some or all of the retainer fee. Dorit refused. Noe filed a request for arbitration. An arbitrator awarded Noe nothing and allocated him the entire filing fee. Because neither party requested a trial de novo, the award became binding under the Mandatory Fee Arbitration Act MFAA). Months later, Dorit sued Noe for malicious prosecution based on the initiation of arbitration. Noe filed a special motion to strike under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16, the anti-SLAPP statute. The court of appeal reversed the denial of his motion. A malicious prosecution claim cannot be based on an MFAA arbitration. View "Dorit v. Noe" on Justia Law

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Russell Construction of Alabama, Inc. ("Russell"), appealed a circuit court order that vacated an arbitration award in favor of Russell and against Christopher Peat. In 2015, Russell and Peat entered into a contract pursuant to which Russell agreed to construct a residence for Peat on "a cost plus a fee basis." The documents executed in connection with the contract provided, in the event of a controversy or dispute, first for mediation and then for arbitration in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association. Upon completion of the residence, a dispute arose between Russell and Peat regarding Russell's performance and the balance due Russell under the contract. In January 2018, Russell filed a formal demand for arbitration, seeking $295,408 allegedly due from Peat for the construction of the residence. Peat counterclaimed, alleging breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract and disputing his consent to costs incurred by Russell; Peat sought specific performance and an award of $255,000 on his counterclaims. Thereafter, in May 2018, the parties reached, as a result of mediation, a settlement agreement. In essence, the settlement agreement required Russell to make certain repairs to the residence; required Peat to pay Russell $245,408 on or before June 15, 2018, at which time Russell agreed to release its recorded lien; and required Peat to deposit into escrow an additional $50,000 to ensure completion, by the end of August 2018, of a "punch-list" to the satisfaction of a third-party "Construction Consultant." The Alabama Supreme Court determined the circuit court did not err to the extent that it set aside the judgment entered pursuant to the arbitrator's Final Award. The Court affirmed the trial court's July 25, 2019 order to the extent that it vacated any judgment on the arbitrator's Final Award related to Russell's and Peat's breach of the provisions of the settlement agreement that remained in effect after the Modified Partial Final Award and the distribution of the outstanding $50,000 at issue. The Court reversed that same order to the extent it purported to vacate any judgment on the Modified Partial Final Award of $258,959.89 and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Russell Construction of Alabama, Inc. v. Peat" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the superior court denying the motion filed by a teachers' union and Jennifer Leyden (collectively, the Union) to vacate an arbitration award and granting the City of Providence's motion to confirm the award, holding that the trial justice erred in holding that the decision of the Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island (the Retirement Board) granting Leyden's application for an ordinary disability retirement retired Leyden as a matter of law. Leyden, a school teacher, was awarded workers' compensation benefits after she was assaulted by students. The Retirement Board later approved Leyden's application for an ordinary disability retirement. While she was receiving workers' compensation benefits, Leyden sought reinstatement to her former teaching position. However, the School Department considered her to be retired. The Union filed a grievance, and the matter proceeded to arbitration. The arbitrator ruled in favor of the School Department, concluding that the Retirement Board had retired Leyden when it granted her request for an ordinary disability pension, and therefore, the Union had no standing to represent her. The superior court confirmed the award. The Supreme Court vacated the superior court's order, holding that Leyden's grievance that she was denied an appointment for the upcoming academic year was substantively arbitrable. View "Providence Teachers' Union Local 958, AFT, AFL-CIO v. Hemond" on Justia Law

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted the Northern Berks Regional Police Commission’s petition for appeal in this Police and Firemen Collective Bargaining Act (Act 1111) grievance arbitration appeal. An arbitrator reinstated Officer Charles Hobart to the Northern Berks Police Department, but the trial court vacated the award based on a finding that the award required the Department to commit an illegal act. The trial court’s ruling was based on factual developments occurring after Hobart’s termination. The Commonwealth Court reversed, finding that Hobart had not yet exhausted administrative remedies that would theoretically remove the purported illegality. After review, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found the arbitrator's award was not illegal, and therefore reversed the Commonwealth Court. View "N Berks Reg. Police Comm. v. Berks Co. FOP" on Justia Law

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Six U.S. plaintiffs rented cars from Payless. Each signed a one-page agreement, itemizing charges, below the final paragraph, which provides: “I agree the charges listed above are estimates and that I have reviewed & agreed to all notices & terms here and in the rental jacket.” After they signed their agreements, the rental associate folded the agreement, placed it a “rental jacket,” and handed it back. The rental jacket bears the title “Rental Terms and Conditions” and contains 31 paragraphs. The word “jacket” appears in only the second paragraph. The twenty-eighth paragraph requires arbitration. The rental associates said nothing about the rental jacket. Lee rented a car in Costa Rica, using a two-sided document. The front side contains the details of the transaction. The back is titled “Rental Agreement” and includes pre-printed terms, including an arbitration clause. Both sides have signature lines but Lee signed the only front. Plaintiffs brought a putative class action, alleging violations of New Jersey, Florida, and Nevada consumer protection statutes, unjust enrichment, and conversion, alleging that they were charged for products and services that they had not authorized. The Third Circuit affirmed the denial of a motion to compel arbitration. The rental jackets were not adequately incorporated into the U.S. Agreements; the U.S. Plaintiffs did not assent to the arbitration provision. A genuine dispute exists over whether Lee was on reasonable notice of the arbitration provision on the backside of the Costa Rica Agreement. View "Bacon v. Avis Budget Group Inc" on Justia Law

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Younan worked for Fleming, 2009-2016. In 2017, he filed a complaint with the Labor Commission, seeking $22,000 in commissions, plus penalties and interest. Fleming asserted to the Labor Commissioner that the complaint should be dismissed because the parties signed an (attached) arbitration agreement. The Commissioner did not dismiss the complaint but Fleming did not file a petition to compel arbitration. A hearing was set for August 2018. In July, Fleming filed an Answer that contained affirmative defenses, including that arbitration was the proper forum. On August 7, Fleming moved to vacate the August 13 hearing and dismiss the complaint because Younan’s employment application and agreement required arbitration, again stating that “[Fleming] is prepared to file a motion with the Superior Court seeking to compel arbitration.” Both parties appeared at the August 13 hearing. Fleming’s motion was denied because Fleming had failed to obtain a stay from the superior court. In December, the Labor Commissioner awarded Younan commissions plus interest and liquidated damages. Fleming filed a notice of appeal; a de novo trial was scheduled for March 2019. In February, Fleming filed an unsuccessful petition to compel arbitration, stay proceedings and vacate the order. The court of appeal affirmed, finding that Fleming waived its right to arbitration by taking steps inconsistent with an intent to invoke arbitration, including delaying its request to the superior court until after a full hearing. Fleming also failed to establish an agreement to arbitrate existed. View "Younan v. Fleming Distribution Co." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's confirmation of an arbitration award in favor of Impact regarding a contractual dispute with VVA. In rejecting VVA's arguments, the court was guided by the general policy in favor of arbitration and, more specifically, in favor of interpreting arbitration awards to give effect to parties' stated desire to avoid court involvement. In the published portion of the opinion, the court held that the arbitrator did not exceed his authority in awarding the remedy. The court also held that there is no basis for vacating the award, because the award is not incomplete or uncertain for failure to expressly address third party consent. View "VVA-TWO, LLC v. Impact Development Group, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this case concerning arbitration agreements, nursing homes, and wrongful death claims under Massachusetts law, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court compelling arbitration after first certifying two questions to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), holding that the SJC's decision compelled the First Circuit to affirmed the judgment compelling arbitration. The personal representative of a deceased former nursing home resident brought a state wrongful death action against a set of organizations that oversaw the nursing home (collectively, nursing home). The nursing home sued to compel arbitration. The federal court compelled arbitration. On appeal, the personal representative argued that she was not bound by the decedent’s agreement to arbitrate with the nursing home because her wrongful death right of recovery was independent of the decedent’s wrongful death claim. The First Circuit certified questions of law to the SJC. After the SJC answered that claims of statutory beneficiaries under the state's wrongful death statute are derivative of the decedent's own cause of action, the First Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, holding that the SJC's decision required this Court to affirm the judgment compelling arbitration. View "GGNSC Chestnut Hill LLC v. Schrader" on Justia Law