Articles Posted in Alaska Supreme Court

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Two credit card holders defaulted on their accounts, and the issuing bank elected to litigate debt-collection actions. After courts entered default judgments against both card holders, the card holders filed new and separate suits alleging that the bank violated the Uniform Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act (UTPA) during the earlier debt collection actions. The bank moved in each case to arbitrate the UTPA claims, and the superior court stayed the UTPA litigation and ordered arbitration. The issue presented for the Supreme Court's review was whether the bank waived its right to demand arbitration of the subsequent UTPA claims by litigating the debt-collection claims. Because the Court concluded that the two claims were not sufficiently closely related, it held that the bank did not waive its right to demand arbitration of the separate UTPA claims. But The Court also concluded that it was error for the superior court to interpret the arbitration agreement on the question of the availability of statewide injunctive relief: the interpretation of an arbitration agreement is in the first instance a matter for the arbitrator. View "Hudson v. Citibank (South Dakota) NA" on Justia Law

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An Alaska state trooper was terminated in part due to dishonesty. The Public Safety Employees Association (PSEA) filed a grievance on behalf of the discharged trooper and then invoked arbitration. An arbitrator reinstated the trooper, ruling that the State did not have cause to terminate him. The superior court upheld the arbitrator's ruling. The State appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the arbitrator committed gross error and that the reinstatement of the trooper was unenforceable. Upon review of the arbitrator's decision and subsequent superior court ruling, the Supreme Court held that the arbitrator's award in this case was not enforceable as a violation of public policy: "the State should be free to heighten its enforcement of ethical standards. . . We are [. . . ] troubled by the arbitrator's suggestion that the State's past lenience toward minor dishonesty requires it to be permanently lenient." Because the arbitrator's award was neither unenforceable nor grossly erroneous, the Court affirmed the superior court and the arbitration decision. View "Alaska v. Public Safety Employees Association" on Justia Law