Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation
Baglione v. Health Net of Cal.
Salvatore Baglione, insured under Health Net of California Inc. through his employer, the County of Santa Clara, brought a lawsuit against Health Net alleging breach of contract and bad faith. This followed Health Net's inconsistent authorization of a medication prescribed for Baglione's chronic condition. Health Net moved to compel arbitration of Baglione's claims based on an arbitration provision in the enrollment form Baglione had signed. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County denied Health Net's motion, finding that the agreement between Health Net and the County did not satisfy the disclosure requirements of Health and Safety Code section 1363.1, and therefore, the arbitration provision was unenforceable. Health Net appealed the decision.The Court of Appeal of the State of California, Second Appellate District, Division Eight, affirmed the trial court's order. The appellate court ruled that the enrollment form did not comply with the requirements of section 1363.1. It found that the form was not clear in its disclosure of which disputes were subject to arbitration, particularly with references to additional documents and laws that did not pertain to the arbitration agreement. Furthermore, the form did not place the arbitration provision immediately before the signature line, as required by the statute. The court also agreed with the lower court that the agreement between Health Net and the County was non-compliant. It ruled that an arbitration agreement, which is part of a health plan, is not enforceable unless both the enrollment form and the County agreement are compliant. Therefore, the court affirmed the trial court's order denying Health Net's motion to compel arbitration. View "Baglione v. Health Net of Cal." on Justia Law
Hernandez v. MicroBilt Corp
In this case, the plaintiff, Maria Del Rosario Hernandez, filed a lawsuit against MicroBilt Corporation alleging the company violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act after the lender denied her loan application based on inaccurate information provided by a MicroBilt product. MicroBilt moved to compel arbitration based on the terms and conditions that Hernandez agreed to while applying for the loan, which included an arbitration provision. However, Hernandez had already submitted her claims to the American Arbitration Association (AAA) for arbitration.The AAA notified MicroBilt that its agreement with Hernandez was a consumer agreement, which meant the AAA's Consumer Arbitration Rules applied. Applying these rules, the AAA notified MicroBilt that its arbitration provision included a material or substantial deviation from the Consumer Rules and/or Protocol. Specifically, the provision’s limitation on damages conflicted with the Consumer Due Process Protocol, which requires that an arbitrator should be empowered to grant whatever relief would be available in court under law or in equity. After MicroBilt did not waive the damages limitation, the AAA declined to administer the arbitration under Rule 1(d).MicroBilt asked Hernandez to submit her claims to a different arbitrator, but she refused, requesting a hearing before the District Court. She argued that she must now pursue her claims in court because the AAA dismissed the case under Rule 1(d). The District Court reinstated Hernandez’s complaint and granted MicroBilt leave to move to compel arbitration under 9 U.S.C. § 4. However, the District Court denied MicroBilt’s motion to compel, leading to this appeal.The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the lower court's decision, stating that Hernandez had fully complied with MicroBilt’s arbitration provision, which allowed her to pursue her claims in court. The court held that it lacked the authority to compel arbitration. The court rejected MicroBilt's arguments that the AAA administrator improperly resolved an arbitrability issue that should have been resolved by an arbitrator, that the provision’s Exclusive Resolution clause conflicted with Hernandez’s return to court, and that the AAA’s application of the Consumer Due Process Protocol was unreasonable. The court concluded that it lacked the authority to review the AAA’s decision or to sever the damages limitation from the arbitration provision. View "Hernandez v. MicroBilt Corp" on Justia Law
KIM V. TINDER, INC.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court's approval of a class action settlement between Tinder and Lisa Kim, a user of the dating app, ruling that Kim was not an adequate class representative. This class action lawsuit against Tinder was over its former age-based pricing model. Kim had agreed to arbitration, unlike over 7,000 potential members of the class, creating a fundamental conflict of interest that violated Rule 23(a)(4). The court found that Kim had a strong interest in settling her claim as she had no chance of going to trial, unlike the other members. The court also noted that Kim failed to vigorously litigate the case on behalf of the class, with her approach to opposing Tinder’s motion to compel arbitration not suggesting vigor. The court remanded the case for consideration of Kim's individual action against Tinder. View "KIM V. TINDER, INC." on Justia Law
BIELSKI V. COINBASE, INC.
Abraham Bielski, a user of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, brought a lawsuit alleging that Coinbase failed to investigate the unauthorized transfer of funds from his account. Coinbase attempted to compel arbitration based on an arbitration agreement in its User Agreement, which included a delegation provision stating that any dispute arising out of the agreement, including enforceability, should be decided by an arbitrator, not a court. Bielski argued that the delegation provision and arbitration agreement were unenforceable due to unconscionability. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that a party must specifically reference and challenge the delegation provision for a court to consider it, and that a party may use the same arguments to challenge both the delegation provision and the arbitration agreement, as long as they articulate why the argument invalidates each specific provision. The court also held that when evaluating whether a delegation provision is unconscionable under California law, a court must interpret the provision in the context of the entire agreement, which may require examining the underlying agreement. After analyzing the Coinbase delegation provision in context, the court determined that it was not unconscionable. The court reversed the district court’s order denying Coinbase’s motion to compel arbitration. View "BIELSKI V. COINBASE, INC." on Justia Law
Robinson Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, LLC v. Phillips
In this fifth appeal before the Supreme Court regarding a class action lawsuit stemming from two circuit court orders denying Appellant's motion to enforce arbitration agreements and its motion to compel class members with arbitration agreements to submit their claims to binding arbitration, holding that remand was necessary.After the Supreme Court's ruling in Phillips II, Appellant filed a motion to enforce arbitration agreements and to compel 197 residents with arbitration agreements to submit their claims to binding arbitration. After the ruling in Phillips III, Appellant moved to enforce arbitration agreements and to compel thirty-three residents with arbitration agreements to submit their claims to binding arbitration. The court entered an order with respect to both motions, from which Appellant appealed. The Supreme Court remanded the case with instructions, holding that the circuit court failed to provide the Supreme Court with specific findings with respect to each arbitration agreement and individual resident and that such findings were necessary for the Court to conduct a proper appellate review. View "Robinson Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, LLC v. Phillips" on Justia Law
Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. v. PDV Holding, Inc.
In this action to compel the issuance of a replacement stock certificate the Court of Chancery ordered PDV Holding, Inc. (PDVH), a Delaware corporation, to issue a replacement stock certificate conditioned upon Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), posting an unsecured bond in the amount of $10,000, holding that the relief sought is granted.In the main dispute, non-party Crystallex International Corporation sought to collect on an arbitration award by executing on PDVSA's U.S.-based assets, and the federal district court ordered a sale of PDVH's stock. PDVSA, the registered owner of all shares of PDVH's stock, filed this action seeking to compel the issuance of a replacement stock certificate representing all 1,000 shares of PDVH that PDVSA owned. The Court of Chancery ordered PDVH to issue a replacement stock certificate conditioned upon PDVSA posting an unsecured bond, holding that PDVH failed to demonstrate good cause for the Court to decline to issue a replacement stock certificate to PDVSA, and PDVSA's entitlement to a replacement stock certificate was conditioned upon its posting of an unsecured bond of $10,000 within seven business days. View "Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. v. PDV Holding, Inc." on Justia Law
Gandi-Kapoor v. Hone Capital LLC
The Court of Chancery denied CDC Upshot Ventures I, L.P.'s motion to dismiss this summary advancement proceeding under Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction after invoking an arbitration provision in its operating agreement, holding that because an arbitration provision does not deprive a court of subject matter jurisdiction, a party can waive a right to arbitrate by participating sufficiently in a court proceeding.The court granted summary judgment establishing Petitioner's right to receive advancements from CSC Upshot Ventures I, L.P. and determining that Upshot owed Petitioner specific amounts. After sanctions were imposed and Upshot still failed to pay, the court issued an order requiring Upshot to show cause why further sanctions should not be imposed. Upshot filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction in light of the arbitration provision. The Court of Chancery denied the motion for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding (1) the arbitration provision can be waived and whether a judicial conduct waiver has occurred is an issue of substantive arbitrability for the court to decide; (2) the arbitration provision in this case was insufficient to empower the arbitrator to decide whether a judicial conduct waiver has occurred; and (3) Upshot waived its right to arbitrate in this case. View "Gandi-Kapoor v. Hone Capital LLC" on Justia Law
Pagel, et al. v. Weikum
Jeffrey Weikum appealed a district court order and judgment denying his motion to compel arbitration, and granting Rodney Pagel and Scott Hager's motion for summary judgment. The parties agreed to dissolve their law firm, Pagel Weikum, PLLP, and entered into a Release and Settlement Agreement. The Agreement included an arbitration clause. Pagel and Hager filed suit against Weikum for breach of contract and conversion. Weikum moved to dismiss and compel arbitration. The North Dakota Supreme Court reversed, finding the arbitration clause at issue in the Agreement was broad, and not limited by any exceptions. The Court concluded the district court misinterpreted the Agreement by finding the claims raised were not arbitrable, and by denying the motion to compel arbitration of those claims. View "Pagel, et al. v. Weikum" on Justia Law
State of Cal. v. Alco Harvest
Plaintiff is a foreign worker hired by defendant Alco Harvesting LLC to work at farms owned by defendant and appellant Betteravia Farms. He later brought employment claims against appellants. Alco moved to compel arbitration pursuant to an arbitration agreement presented to and signed by Plaintiff at his orientation. The trial court found the agreement void and denied the motion. It considered arbitration a “material term and condition” of Plaintiff’s employment and as such, a job requirement that Alco should have disclosed during the H-2A certification process. The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court explained that Alco’s arbitration agreement required Plaintiff to forfeit his right to a jury trial in “any claim, dispute and/or controversy that [any] Employee may have against the Company . . . arising from, relating to or having any relationship or connection whatsoever with [or to the] Employee’s . . . employment by, or other association with the Company . . . .” The arbitration agreement also prohibited him from participating in any class action claims against Alco. Thus, the court considered the relinquishing of these rights as “material terms and conditions” of his employment. View "State of Cal. v. Alco Harvest" on Justia Law
Empres at Riverton, LLC v. Osborne
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court denying Wind River Rehabilitation and Wellness's motion to compel arbitration in this action alleging medical malpractice, holding that the district court erred in denying the motion to compel arbitration.Plaintiff, the wrongful death representative of Loy Forshee, filed this action against Wind River, where Forshee lived when he fell and broke his hip, alleging medical malpractice. Wind River moved to compel arbitration under the parties' arbitration agreement. The district court denied the motion, concluding that Wind River waived his right to arbitration by waiting fourteen months to compel arbitration. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the record did not support a conclusion that Wind River waived its right to arbitrate. View "Empres at Riverton, LLC v. Osborne" on Justia Law