Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Business Law
MHP Management, LLC v. DTR MHP Management, LLC
The Court of Chancery granted Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment seeking an order confirming the arbitration panel's award in this case and denied Defendants' motion for summary judgment seeking to vacate the award, holding that there was no basis to vacate the arbitration panel's award.Defendants initiated arbitration proceedings against Plaintiff to challenge the validity of unsuitability determination that Plaintiff issued to Defendants under the parties' agreement. The arbitration panel determined that the unsuitability determination was valid. This litigation followed. The Court of Chancery confirmed the arbitration award, holding that Defendants were not entitled to relief on their allegations of error. View "MHP Management, LLC v. DTR MHP Management, LLC" on Justia Law
CCC Intelligent Solutions Inc. v. Tractable Inc.
CCC and Tractable use algorithms and data generated by repair centers to provide estimates of the cost to repair damaged vehicles. Tractable dispatched its employee to obtain a license for CCC’s software. Using a false name, the employee purported to represent “JA,” a small, independent appraiser. CCC issued a license. The contract forbids assignment of the license without consent and represents that JA is acting on its own behalf, not as an agent for any third party, and forbids disassembly of the software or its incorporation into any other product. Tractable disassembled the software and incorporated some features into its own product. In CCC’s subsequent suit, Tractable moved for arbitration under the agreement between CCC and JA., arguing that “JA” is a name that Tractable uses for itself. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of the motion. Tractable is not a party to the agreement. CCC could not have discovered that Tractable uses the name “JA.” Contractual meaning reflects words and signs exchanged between the negotiators, not unilateral, confidential beliefs. If a misrepresentation as to the character or essential terms of a proposed contract induces conduct that appears to be a manifestation of assent by one who neither knows nor has reasonable opportunity to know of the character or essential terms of the proposed contract, his conduct is not effective as a manifestation of assent.. The identity of CCC’s trading partner was a vital element of the deal. View "CCC Intelligent Solutions Inc. v. Tractable Inc." on Justia Law
Ind. Steel Construction, Inc. v. Lunda Construction Company
The parties entered into a contract related to the construction of a bridge. Plaintiff filed a claim against Defendant including those of breach of contract, promissory estoppel, unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, and negligent misrepresentation. Based on an arbitration agreement, the parties presented their cases to an arbitrator, which found in Defendant's favor. The arbitrator awarded attorney's fees to Defendant.The district court reversed the arbitrator's award of attorney's fees, finding that the arbitrator exceeded his authority in awarding the fees.The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's order reducing Defendant's arbitration award to exclude attorney's fees. The arbitration agreement at issue was not entirely clear on the attorney's fees issues, but Plaintiff cannot show that “the arbitrator based his decision on some body of thought, or feeling, or policy, or law that is outside the contract." View "Ind. Steel Construction, Inc. v. Lunda Construction Company" on Justia Law
Transcor Astra Group S.A. v. Petrobras America Inc.
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming in part and reversing in part the judgment of the trial court holding that the settlement agreement between the parties in this case barred the claims asserted in this suit and in an arbitration proceeding, holding that the trial court did not err.A billion-dollar break-up between two large corporations engaged in the international petroleum business resulted in numerous claims and lawsuits, which the parties finally resolved through a comprehensive settlement agreement. The trial court concluded that the settlement agreement, including its release provisions and a disclaimer of reliance, were valid and enforceable and barred the claims asserted in both this lawsuit and in the arbitration proceeding. The court of appeals reversed in part, concluding that the settlement agreement did not bar certain claims. The Supreme Court reversed and reinstated the final judgment of the trial court, holding that the parties fully and finally resolved the current claims through their comprehensive settlement agreement. View "Transcor Astra Group S.A. v. Petrobras America Inc." on Justia Law
Ngo v. BMW of North America, LLC
Ngo purchased a BMW. The dealership financed Ngo’s purchase; the purchase agreement contained an arbitration clause. As a result of alleged defects with the car, Ngo sued BMW, the manufacturer, which was not a signatory to the purchase agreement. BMW moved to compel arbitration. The district court granted the motion, finding BMW to be a third-party beneficiary.The Ninth Circuit reversed. Under California law, a nonsignatory is a third-party beneficiary only to a contract made expressly for its benefit. Any benefit that BMW might receive from the clause was peripheral and indirect because it was predicated on the decisions of others to arbitrate. The purchase agreement was drafted with the primary "motivating purpose" of securing benefits for the contracting parties; third parties were not the purposeful beneficiaries of that undertaking. Nothing in the contract evinced any intention that the arbitration clause should apply to BMW. The parties easily could have indicated that the contract was intended to benefit BMW but did not do so. The court declined to apply equitable estoppel to compel arbitration. Ngo did not allege any “concerted misconduct.” BMW was mistaken that, under the Song-Beverley and Magnuson-Moss Warranty Acts, Ngo’s claims were inextricably intertwined with the terms of the purchase agreement. View "Ngo v. BMW of North America, LLC" on Justia Law
Paweltzki v. Paweltzki
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Defendants' 2013 motion to enforce a purported settlement agreement and to compel arbitration and dismissing Defendants' claim for unjust enrichment after a trial, holding that the circuit court did not err.Plaintiff brought suit against Defendants, his brothers, to dissolve their family partnership and asserting claims for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. Defendants asserted multiple counterclaims based on Plaintiff's alleged misappropriation of partnership assets. This appeal concerned only the circuit court's denial of Defendants' motion to enforce the settlement agreement and to compel arbitration and the dismissal of Defendants' claim for unjust enrichment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err in denying Defendants' motion to enforce the purported settlement agreement and to compel arbitration; and (2) did not err in denying Defendants relief on their claim for unjust enrichment. View "Paweltzki v. Paweltzki" on Justia Law
Dr. Robert L. Meinders, D.C., Ltd. v. United HealthCare Services, Inc.
Meinders offers chiropractic services. United provides or administers insurance plans nationwide. In 2006, Meinders became a “participating provider” with United to expand his customer base; he signed a provider agreement with ACN. which provided administrative and network management services for chiropractors, and had a preexisting master services agreement with United. The agreement allowed ACN, “in its sole discretion,” to “assign its rights, duties or obligations” under the agreement.“ The agreement stated that if a dispute arose, either party “may” submit the issue “to arbitration” and any arbitration decision would be “final and binding.”Meinders submitted claims for United-insured patients directly to United; United paid those claims. Those claims were submitted on United forms and if an explanation of benefits was requested, United provided it. Meinders confirmed a patient’s eligibility either through United’s website or through a United phone number. ACN became a wholly-owned subsidiary of United.In 2013, United sent a fax to Meinders, who believed that United had violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and filed suit. After remands, the district court held that “United … assumed the material obligations of ACN …, a wholly-owned subsidiary of United, under the Provider Agreement, which authorizes United to enforce the arbitration clause.” The Third Circuit affirmed. View "Dr. Robert L. Meinders, D.C., Ltd. v. United HealthCare Services, Inc." on Justia Law
Doe v. The Trump Corporation
Anonymous plaintiffs filed a putative class action against The Trump Corporation, Donald J. Trump, and various members of his family, asserting claims for racketeering in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1962(c), conspiracy to conduct the affairs of a racketeering enterprise in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1962(d), dissemination of untrue and misleading public statements in violation of California law, unfair competition in violation of California law, unfair and deceptive trade practices in violation of Maryland and Pennsylvania law, common-law fraud, and common-law negligent misrepresentation. Plaintiffs contend that defendants fraudulently induced them to enter into business relationships with non-party appellant, ACN, by making a series of deceptive and misleading statements. The district court denied both defendants and ACN's motions to compel arbitration.The Second Circuit affirmed, concluding that (1) defendants may not compel plaintiffs to arbitrate their dispute on equitable estoppel grounds; and (2) the district court may not compel arbitration as to ACN's discovery dispute because the court lacked an independent basis for subject-matter jurisdiction over the parties' dispute. The court considered defendants and ACN's remaining arguments on appeal and concluded that they are without merit. View "Doe v. The Trump Corporation" on Justia Law
DDK Hotels, LLC v. Williams-Sonoma, Inc.
Plaintiffs DDK Hotels, DDK Hospitality, and DDK Management filed suit against Defendants Williams-Sonoma and West Elm, asserting claims for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of fiduciary duty, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, and unjust enrichment. West Elm then brought an action in the Delaware Court of Chancery, seeking to dissolve the joint venture, which the Delaware court dismissed. Plaintiffs then filed a supplemental complaint in the district court to assert an additional claim for breach of the prevailing party provisions of Section 21(h) of the joint venture agreement. Defendants then moved to compel arbitration for that claim, which the district court denied.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying defendants' motion to compel arbitration, concluding that the joint venture agreement does not "clearly and unmistakably" delegate arbitrability to the arbitrator and that the district court therefore correctly ruled on the scope of the arbitration agreement. Finally, the court rejected DDK Hospitality's request for prevailing party fees and noted that DDK Hospitality may pursue its request for fees on remand. View "DDK Hotels, LLC v. Williams-Sonoma, Inc." on Justia Law
JP-Richardson v. Pacific Oaks etc.
JP-Richardson, LLC (JP) appealed a court a judgment confirming an arbitration award in favor of Pacific Oak SOR Richardson Portfolio JV, LLC F/K/A KBS SOR Richardson Portfolio JV, LLC (Pacific Oak) in a business dispute. Pacific Oak removed JP as the managing member of a joint venture real estate company. JP initiated arbitration, seeking to be reinstated as the managing member. The arbitrator determined Pacific Oak’s decision to remove JP was justified, and JP owed over $1 million (the cost of arbitration). On appeal, JP argued the trial court erred by denying its petition to vacate the award and by granting Pacific Oak’s motion to confirm the award. Concluding JP’s contentions lacked merit, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment. View "JP-Richardson v. Pacific Oaks etc." on Justia Law