Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court
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Appellee initiated this putative class-action lawsuit against DIRECTV, seeking damages for herself individually and on behalf of other former DIRECTV subscribers who paid an early cancellation fee to DIRECTV after they terminated DIRECTV's service. Appellee alleged that DIRECTV's enforcement and collection of its early cancellation fee was deceptive and unconscionable in violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Appellee moved to certify the litigation as a class action. DIRECTV moved to compel Appellee to arbitration in accordance with the arbitration provision in the customer agreement that DIRECTV alleged had been mailed with Appellee's first billing statement. The circuit court denied the motion to compel arbitration and granted Appellee's motion for class certification. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court correctly denied DIRECTV's motion to compel Appellee to arbitration on the basis that Appellee cancelled her service so quickly she did not assent to the arbitration agreement by her continued use of service; and (2) there was no merit to DIRECTV's arguments for reversal of the class-certification order. View "DIRECTV, Inc. v. Murray" on Justia Law

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Independence County and the City of Clarksville entered into a power purchase and sale agreement that included an arbitration provision. After the City informed the County that it was going to terminate the agreement, the County filed a motion to compel arbitration. The circuit court denied the motion, ruling that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable because (1) the City validly exercised its right to terminate the agreement, and without the revocation of the entire agreement, the City was released from the obligation to arbitrate; and (2) the arbitration agreement lacked mutuality of obligation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in ruling that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable due to the absence of mutuality of obligation, and the arbitration agreement was void on that basis. View "Independence County v. City of Clarksville" on Justia Law

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SSW Holding filed a complaint against BDO Seidman and other defendants, asserting several causes of action and seeking damages arising from a tax-advantaged investment strategy involving investments in distressed debt that SSW entered into and utilized on its federal tax returns for the 2001-2005 tax years. BDO filed an amended motion to compel arbitration and stay the motion, asserting that it and SSW entered into two consulting agreements that provided for arbitration before the American Arbitration Association. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) SSW's claims fell within the scope of the arbitration provisions; and (2) the circuit court erred in finding that the arbitration provisions were unenforceable and invalid due to fraud and procedural and substantive unconscionability. Remanded. View "BDO Seidman, LLP v. SSW Holding Co." on Justia Law

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Appellees executed a credit application and retail installment contract (RIC) for the purchase of an automobile. The application contained an arbitration agreement. The RIC provided an option for Appellees to purchase credit-life insurance coverage with Insurer. Appellees subsequently filed a class action against Insurer seeking the refund of unearned credit-life insurance premiums from the date they paid off their loan until the original maturity date of the loan. Insurer filed a motion to compel arbitration pursuant to the terms of the arbitration agreement. The circuit court denied the motion after finding that the dispute was governed by Ark. Code Ann. 16-108-201(b), thereby preventing Insurer from compelling Appellees to arbitrate a dispute under an insurance policy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the McCarran-Ferguson Act did not allow the Federal Arbitration Act to preempt section 16-108-201(b), and section 16-108-201(b) prohibited arbitration under these facts; and (2) the principles of equitable estoppel did apply to allow Insurer to compel arbitration. View "S. Pioneer Life Ins. Co. v. Thomas" on Justia Law

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Appellant brought an interlocutory appeal from the circuit court’s denial of its motion to compel arbitration. The appellee argued that appellant’s appeal was untimely filed. To be timely, appellant was required to file its notice of appeal within thirty days of the order denying the motion to compel arbitration, which was entered on December 28, 2009. At issue was whether appellant’s January 4, 2010 motion to dismiss constituted a post-order motion that would have extended the time for filing the notice of the appeal under Ark. R. of App. P. Civ. 4(b). The Court concluded that because the motion substantively sought to correct procedural defects in a December 21, 2009 motion, the January 4 motion was not a new motion and was treated by the circuit court as one for reconsideration. Because it was a collateral motion, it did not extend the time for filing the notice of appeal. The Court held the appellant’s notice of appeal filed on March 19, 2010 was untimely and dismissed the appeal.