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Plaintiff Tony Muro entered into an employment contract with defendant Cornerstone Staffing Solutions, Inc. (Cornerstone). The contract included a provision requiring that all disputes arising out of Muro's employment with Cornerstone to be resolved by arbitration. It also incorporated a class action waiver provision. In response to this case, which was styled as a proposed class action and alleged various Labor Code violations, Cornerstone moved to compel arbitration and dismiss the class claims. Relying heavily on Garrido v. Air Liquide Industrial, U.S. LP, 241 Cal.App.4th 833 (2015), the trial court concluded the contract was exempted from the operation of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA; 9 U.S.C. 1 et seq.) and was instead governed by California law. It further determined that the California Supreme Court's decision in Gentry v. Superior Court, 42 Cal.4th 443 (2007) (overruled by 59 Cal.4th 348(2014)) continued to provide the relevant framework for evaluating whether the class waiver provision in the contract was enforceable under California law. After applying Gentry to the record here, the court found the class waiver provision of the contract unenforceable and denied the motion to compel arbitration. Cornerstone appeals, but finding no error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Muro v. Cornerstone Staffing Solutions" on Justia Law

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This litigation began when purchasers of computer service contracts filed a putative class action against the sellers. The sellers successfully moved to compel arbitration pursuant to the terms of the computer services contracts. The sellers, in the meantime, had applied for tax abatements from the Commissioner of Revenue. The Commissioner denied the applications, and the sellers petitioned the Appellate Tax Board. Appellant, one of the consumers who purchased these service contracts, moved to intervene in the proceedings, which petition the Board allowed. The Board reversed the Commissioner’s decision and allowed the abatements. Taxes were imposed on the service contracts purchased by Appellant. After final judgment was entered in the sellers’ favor in the class action litigation, the sellers withdrew their tax abatement petitions with prejudice. The Board denied Appellant’s motion to strike the withdrawals and terminated the proceedings. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding (1) the Board did not err as a matter of law in allowing the Sellers’ withdrawals; but (2) the Board’s termination of the proceedings in their entirety, after permitting Appellant to intervene and allowing the abatements, was an error of law. Rather, Appellant should have been allowed to proceed as an intervener on its claim to recover the taxes imposed on the service contracts it purchased. View "WorldWide TechServices, LLC v. Commissioner of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's order granting Norfolk Southern's motion to confirm an arbitration award. The court held that the award was not mutual, final, and definite as required by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). In this case, the district court erred in finding that the Majority Decision was a final arbitration award where the third appraiser reserved the right to withdraw his assent if his assumptions proved to be incorrect. The court noted that the district court did not err in confirming the Majority Opinion because of an ambiguity rendering it unenforceable and the third appraiser did not base his decision on an improper reason. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Norfolk Southern Railway Co. v. Sprint Communications Co." on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's order granting Norfolk Southern's motion to confirm an arbitration award. The court held that the award was not mutual, final, and definite as required by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). In this case, the district court erred in finding that the Majority Decision was a final arbitration award where the third appraiser reserved the right to withdraw his assent if his assumptions proved to be incorrect. The court noted that the district court did not err in confirming the Majority Opinion because of an ambiguity rendering it unenforceable and the third appraiser did not base his decision on an improper reason. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Norfolk Southern Railway Co. v. Sprint Communications Co." on Justia Law

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In this action brought by Plaintiff alleging a deliberate intent claim and violations of the West Virginia Human Rights Act (Act) the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s rulings and remanded the case for entry of an order dismissing the action and compelling arbitration. Plaintiff instituted this civil action against Hampden Coal, LLC, his employer, and his supervisor alleging a deliberate intent claim related to his workplace injury and two violations of the Act arising from his demotion. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, to compel arbitration pursuant to an arbitration agreement Appellant signed as a condition of his employment. The circuit court denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss and refused to compel arbitration, concluding, among other things, that the arbitration agreement was invalid because it lacked consideration and was both substantively and procedurally unconscionable. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) more stringent or different standards do not apply to consideration of arbitration agreements in the employment context; (2) the parties’ agreement to arbitrate their disputes served as consideration for the agreement; (3) the agreement was neither substantively or procedurally unconscionable; (4) Plaintiff’s claims did not fall outside the scope of the agreement; and (5) the circuit court erred in finding that the agreement was an employment contract. View "Hampden Coal, LLC v. Varney" on Justia Law

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In this action brought by Plaintiff alleging a deliberate intent claim and violations of the West Virginia Human Rights Act (Act) the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s rulings and remanded the case for entry of an order dismissing the action and compelling arbitration. Plaintiff instituted this civil action against Hampden Coal, LLC, his employer, and his supervisor alleging a deliberate intent claim related to his workplace injury and two violations of the Act arising from his demotion. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, to compel arbitration pursuant to an arbitration agreement Appellant signed as a condition of his employment. The circuit court denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss and refused to compel arbitration, concluding, among other things, that the arbitration agreement was invalid because it lacked consideration and was both substantively and procedurally unconscionable. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) more stringent or different standards do not apply to consideration of arbitration agreements in the employment context; (2) the parties’ agreement to arbitrate their disputes served as consideration for the agreement; (3) the agreement was neither substantively or procedurally unconscionable; (4) Plaintiff’s claims did not fall outside the scope of the agreement; and (5) the circuit court erred in finding that the agreement was an employment contract. View "Hampden Coal, LLC v. Varney" on Justia Law

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STV One Nineteen Senior Living, LLC ("STV"), appealed a circuit court order denying its motion to compel arbitration of certain counterclaims filed against it by Dixie Boyd, by and through her agent, Mary Alice Boyd-Kline, under a valid power of attorney. Dixie Boyd and Mary-Alice Boyd-Kline, as holder of Boyd's power of attorney, signed a "residency agreement" with STV, which operated an assisted-living facility. STV agreed to provide Dixie Boyd with a private apartment and other related services, including, among other things, utilities, housekeeping, laundry, meals, maintenance, planned activities, transportation, and security and protection. The residency agreement contained an arbitration clause. The Alabama Supreme Court determined the plain language of the arbitration clause encompassed Boyd's counterclaims, and the trial court erred, therefore, in denying STV's motion to compel arbitration. View "STV One Nineteen Senior Living, LLC v. Boyd" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from Brian Pedigo’s suit against Rent-A-Center, Inc., for actual and punitive damages, alleging claims of malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Pedigo decided to make the rental- purchase of a back-lit, LED television and entered a Rental Purchase Agreement (RPA) for the lease. Pedigo had failed to fulfill his payment obligations under the RPA and was more than twenty days past-due under the agreement. Finding the contract had been breached, RAC manager Kristopher Robertson sought to recover the television from Pedigo. Through his attempts at recovery, Robertson discovered that the television was pawned shortly after it was leased. After discovering Pedigo had pawned the television, Robertson filed a complaint with the police. Based on this information, an arrest warrant for the theft of rental property was issued for Pedigo on May 1, 2013. He was indicted on October 22, 2013, for defrauding RAC, and was arrested and incarcerated on December 11, 2013. On June 9, 2014, the State retired the October 2013 felony charge, ending the prosecution of the criminal matter. After a preliminary review of this matter, the Circuit Court found in favor of Rent-A-Center, ruling that the parties entered a valid and enforceable arbitration agreement which covered Pedigo’s claims. The Mississippi Supreme Court found however, such a ruling was in error. Though broad, the arbitration agreement did not contemplate Pedigo having to arbitrate his claim that Rent-A-Center maliciously swore out a criminal affidavit, causing his wrongful incarceration. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the previous ruling and remanded the case to the circuit court for further proceedings. View "Pedigo v. Robertson" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of RBC's motion to compel arbitration. Plaintiff held a checking account with RBC and filed suit alleging that RBC failed to properly warn him of possible overdrafts at points of sale when he used his debit card and impermissibly rearranged the order of debit-card transactions so as to process larger transactions before smaller transactions. The court found it unnecessary to address the questions of waiver or the district court's alternative holding. Rather, the court held that PNC failed to demonstrate the requisite meeting of the minds to support a finding that the parties agreed through the February 2013 amendment to arbitrate their then-pending litigation. View "Dasher v. RBC Bank (USA)" on Justia Law

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A party clearly and unmistakably consents to have an arbitrator decide his own jurisdiction when that party does not object to the arbitrator's jurisdiction in his answer to the arbitration petition, informs the arbitrator that he is voluntarily submitting to the arbitrator's jurisdiction, appears at multiple prehearing conferences, formally asks the arbitrator to impose a bond requirement on the opposing party, and only after the arbitrator denies that request tells the arbitrator that his submission to jurisdiction was conditional on obtaining that bond. The Court of Appeal held that such conduct did constitute clear and unmistakable consent to allow the arbitrator to decide the issue of plaintiff's own jurisdiction. The court also held that plaintiff's challenge to the arbitrator's jurisdiction was untimely and that his challenges to the arbitrator's assessment of his jurisdiction and to the ultimate arbitration award were without merit. View "Douglass v. Serenivision, Inc." on Justia Law