Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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The case involves SKAV, L.L.C., the owner of a Best Western hotel in Abbeville, Louisiana, and Independent Specialty Insurance Company. The hotel was damaged by Hurricane Laura in August 2020, and SKAV filed a claim on a surplus lines insurance policy it had purchased from Independent Specialty. The policy contained an arbitration clause requiring all disputes to be settled by arbitration. However, SKAV sued Independent Specialty in the Western District of Louisiana, alleging that the insurance company had failed to adequately cover the hotel's hurricane damage under the policy's terms. Independent Specialty moved to compel arbitration, but the district court denied the motion, citing a prior decision that concluded that § 22:868 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes voids an arbitration provision in a contract for surplus lines insurance.The case was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The main dispute was the effect of § 22:868 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes on the insurance policy's arbitration clause. The statute bars insurance policies from depriving Louisiana courts of jurisdiction and permits, in limited circumstances, forum- and venue-selection provisions. The court noted that there were conflicting decisions on this issue from district courts in Louisiana and New York.The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's decision. The court concluded that the arbitration clause in the surplus lines insurance policy was void under § 22:868. The court reasoned that the Louisiana Legislature's 2020 amendments to the statute did not reverse the state's longstanding anti-arbitration policy. The court also rejected Independent Specialty's argument that the issue of the arbitration clause's validity must itself go to arbitration, stating that when a statute prevents the valid formation of an arbitration agreement, the court cannot compel arbitration, even on threshold questions of arbitrability. View "S. K. A. V. v. Independent Specialty Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Trustees of the New York State Nurses Association Pension Plan (the Trustees) and White Oak Global Advisors, LLC (White Oak) entered into an investment management agreement, which included an arbitration clause. The Trustees later brought several fiduciary duty claims against White Oak under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which were resolved through arbitration. The arbitrator issued an award in favor of the Trustees, which the Trustees sought to confirm in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.White Oak appealed the confirmation, arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction and that the court erroneously interpreted the award. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's jurisdiction, finding that the Trustees' petition to confirm the award was cognizable under ERISA § 502(a)(3). The court also affirmed the district court's interpretation of the award regarding the disgorgement of pre-award interest and the "Day One" fees. However, the court vacated and remanded the district court's confirmation of the disgorgement of White Oak's "profits," finding the award too ambiguous to enforce. The court also vacated and remanded the district court's order for White Oak to pay the Trustees' attorneys' fees and costs, finding the district court's findings insufficiently specific. View "Trustees of the NYSNAPP v. White Oak Glob. Adv." on Justia Law

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The case involves the Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) and its affiliates, who sued several medical practices in separate actions in the District of New Jersey. GEICO alleged that the practices defrauded them of more than $10 million by abusing the personal injury protection (PIP) benefits offered by its auto policies. The practices allegedly filed exaggerated claims for medical services, billed medically unnecessary care, and engaged in illegal kickback schemes. GEICO's suits against the practices each included a claim under the New Jersey’s Insurance Fraud Prevention Act (IFPA).The practices sought arbitration of GEICO’s IFPA claim, arguing that a valid arbitration agreement covered the claim and that a different New Jersey insurance law allowed them to compel arbitration. However, each District Court disagreed, ruling instead that IFPA claims cannot be arbitrated. The practices appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.The Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower courts' decisions, holding that claims under the IFPA are arbitrable. The court found that GEICO's argument that the IFPA implicitly prohibits arbitration was not persuasive. The court also concluded that GEICO’s IFPA claims must be compelled to arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), as the claims fell under the scope of the arbitration agreement in GEICO's Precertification and Decision Point Review Plan. The court remanded the case with instructions to compel arbitration of GEICO’s IFPA claims against the practices. View "GEICO v. Caring Pain Management PC" on Justia Law

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The case involves a dispute between Andrew Reynosa and his former employer, Advanced Transportation Services, Inc. (ATS). Reynosa had signed an arbitration agreement with ATS during his employment. After leaving the company, he filed a complaint for damages against ATS, which was then moved to arbitration as per the agreement. However, Reynosa later filed a motion to withdraw from arbitration, arguing that ATS had twice failed to pay the required arbitration fees within the stipulated 30-day period, thereby waiving its right to compel him to proceed with arbitration.The Tulare County Superior Court denied Reynosa's motion to withdraw from arbitration. The court found that the parties had mutually agreed to extend the deadline for payment of the arbitration fees, and ATS had paid the fees within the extended deadline. Therefore, the court concluded that ATS had not materially breached the arbitration agreement.Reynosa then petitioned the Court of Appeal of the State of California, Fifth Appellate District, seeking a writ of mandate directing the superior court to vacate its order and grant his motion to withdraw from arbitration. The appellate court granted Reynosa's request for a stay of the arbitration proceedings and issued an order to show cause why writ relief should not be granted.The appellate court concluded that the superior court had erroneously denied Reynosa's motion to withdraw from arbitration. The court found that ATS had materially breached the arbitration agreement by failing to pay the arbitration fees within the stipulated 30-day period. The court held that Reynosa was entitled to withdraw from arbitration and proceed in a court of appropriate jurisdiction. The court issued a writ of mandate directing the superior court to vacate its order and grant Reynosa's motion to withdraw from arbitration. The court also ordered the superior court to address Reynosa's requests for sanctions under the relevant code of civil procedure. View "Reynosa v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court of Iowa reviewed a case involving a dispute between the University of Iowa and Modern Piping, Inc., a mechanical contractor. The dispute arose during the construction of the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Modern Piping sought to arbitrate some delay disputes, but the University obtained a temporary injunction preventing arbitration. Modern Piping successfully had the injunction dissolved and sought to recover not only the fees and costs it incurred in doing so, but also restitution for the University's wrongful injunction.The district court initially granted the University an ex parte temporary injunction against Modern Piping, preventing arbitration of specific disputes. Modern Piping intervened and successfully had the injunction dissolved. The University appealed this decision but was unsuccessful. Meanwhile, the parties arbitrated the original disputes, resulting in the University paying Modern Piping over $16 million pursuant to the arbitration award.The Supreme Court of Iowa held that the restitution awarded to Modern Piping was not a proper remedy for a claim for wrongful injunction and could not stand. The court affirmed the $21,784.50 award to Modern Piping for fees and costs but reversed the $12,784,177.00 award for restitution. The court found that Modern Piping's claim for restitution was not directly correlated to the injunction, and therefore, it was not entitled to recover restitution in the form of a broad-reaching unjust enrichment claim. The case was remanded for entry of an order consistent with this directive. View "The University of Iowa v. Modern Piping, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2015, Joseph Semprini filed a lawsuit against his employer, Wedbush Securities, Inc., alleging 11 personal causes of action and seven class claims for alleged wage and hour violations. Semprini and Wedbush agreed that Semprini’s personal claims would be arbitrated, while the remaining claims would proceed in court. The class was certified in 2017, and the parties litigated Semprini’s class and Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claims in court over the next several years. In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana that an employer may enforce an employee’s agreement to arbitrate individual PAGA claims. Following this decision, Wedbush asked its workforce to sign arbitration agreements, and 24 class members, including the second named plaintiff, Bradley Swain, agreed to do so.The Superior Court of Orange County denied Wedbush’s motion to compel arbitration of the named plaintiffs’ individual PAGA claims and the claims of the 24 class members who signed arbitration agreements. The court found that Wedbush had waived its right to compel arbitration by entering into the 2015 stipulation.The Court of Appeal of the State of California Fourth Appellate District Division Three affirmed the lower court's decision. The court held that even if the Viking River decision or the 2022 arbitration agreements gave Wedbush a new right to move to compel certain claims to arbitration, Wedbush waited too long to make its motion, particularly in light of the looming trial date. The court found that Wedbush had waived its right to compel arbitration by waiting nine months after the Viking River decision and five to six months after select class members signed the new arbitration agreements to file its motion to compel arbitration. View "Semprini v. Wedbush Securities Inc." on Justia Law

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The case involves the Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) and its affiliates, who sued several medical practices in separate actions in the District of New Jersey. GEICO alleged that the practices defrauded them of more than $10 million by abusing the personal injury protection (PIP) benefits offered by its auto policies. The practices filed exaggerated claims for medical services, billed medically unnecessary care, and engaged in illegal kickback schemes. GEICO's suits against the practices each included a claim under the New Jersey’s Insurance Fraud Prevention Act (IFPA).The practices sought arbitration of GEICO’s IFPA claim, arguing that a valid arbitration agreement covered the claim and that a different New Jersey insurance law allowed them to compel arbitration. However, each District Court disagreed, ruling instead that IFPA claims cannot be arbitrated. The practices appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.The Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower courts' decisions and compelled arbitration. The court found that the IFPA does not implicitly prohibit arbitration. The court also found that the IFPA claims before them should be compelled to arbitration under a different New Jersey law. Furthermore, the court concluded that GEICO’s IFPA claims must be compelled to arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). The court held that the arbitration agreement in the Plan covers the IFPA claims and therefore, must compel arbitration. The court also addressed practice-specific issues in the Mount Prospect and Precision Spine appeals. The court concluded that the District Court should not have granted GEICO leave to amend its complaint in the Mount Prospect case. In the Precision Spine case, the court held that the District Court abused its discretion by denying Precision Spine’s motion sua sponte because it was addressed to the unamended complaint. View "GEICO v. Mount Prospect Chiropractic Center PA" on Justia Law

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The case involves AURC III LLC, an Oregon limited liability company, and several Washington and Delaware limited liability companies collectively referred to as Point Ruston. Point Ruston purchased a 97-acre former copper smelter and environmental clean-up site located on the Puget Sound waterfront in Ruston and Tacoma, Washington, for $169,000,000 and developed it in phases. To fund the second phase of development, Point Ruston negotiated a $66 million loan from American United Development Group, which created AURC III LLC to raise and manage funds from foreign investors seeking United States residency. After disbursing the full amount of the loan, AURC filed an amended complaint against Point Ruston, alleging that Point Ruston was delinquent on interest payments in breach of its loan agreement. The superior court ordered Point Ruston and AURC to engage in arbitration as per their loan agreement.The arbitrator issued an interim award only on the amount of current and default interest due and awarded $10,969,015 to AURC. The arbitrator then issued a final award for the same amount, as well as awarding attorney fees and arbitration fees and expenses. In total, Point Ruston was required to pay over $11.4 million. AURC moved to confirm the award and for presentation of judgment. Initially, Point Ruston agreed AURC was “entitled to confirmation of the Award and entry of a Final Judgment” but opposed attaching the arbitrator’s awards to that judgment. Before the court could enter the written confirmation order and judgment, Point Ruston paid the award and filed a motion to dismiss the case as moot because no live dispute remained. After AURC alerted the court that it received the award amount from Point Ruston, the court denied the motion to dismiss. The court entered the confirmation order with the interim and final awards attached as exhibits, as well as a judgment against Point Ruston. AURC filed a full satisfaction of judgment.Point Ruston appealed on two grounds. It challenged (1) the superior court’s denial of the motion to dismiss and (2) the court’s decision to attach the arbitration awards to the confirmation order. Division Two of the Court of Appeals affirmed in an unpublished opinion. Point Ruston sought review in the Supreme Court of the State of Washington, which was granted.The Supreme Court of the State of Washington held that when a party seeks a confirmation order, RCW 7.04A.220 requires issuance of the order subject to narrow exceptions inapplicable here. Payment of an arbitration award does not render the underlying case moot. The court also held that attaching an arbitrator’s award merely identifies the basis for the confirmation order. Accordingly, the court affirmed the Court of Appeals. View "AURC III, LLC v. Point Ruston Phase II, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this case, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts affirmed the lower court's summary judgment ruling against Jordan's Furniture, Inc. The company had implemented a commissions-based compensation scheme for its sales employees, which the plaintiff class argued failed to comply with the overtime and Sunday pay statutes as outlined in a previous case, Sullivan v. Sleepy's LLC. The court agreed, finding that Jordan's failed to provide separate and additional payments for overtime and Sundays, thereby violating the statutes. Furthermore, the court ruled that the Sunday pay statute can be enforced under the Wage Act's private right of action, as Sunday pay constitutes "wages earned" under the Wage Act. The court, however, vacated the award of attorney's fees to the plaintiff class and remanded the case to the lower court for recalculation of the award of attorney's fees, due to the lower court's reliance on common fund case law and categorical exclusion of time spent on settlement negotiations and mediation from the lodestar calculation. View "Sutton v. Jordan's Furniture, Inc." on Justia Law

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A dispute arose between SunStone Realty Partners X LLC (SunStone) and Bodell Construction Company (Bodell) over the postjudgment interest rate applied to a domesticated Hawaii judgment in Utah. Following arbitration in Hawaii over construction defects in a condominium development, SunStone obtained a judgment against Bodell exceeding $9.5 million, which it domesticated in Utah. Bodell requested the Utah court to apply Utah's lower postjudgment interest rate instead of Hawaii's higher one. SunStone opposed this, arguing that the Utah Foreign Judgment Act (UFJA) required the application of Hawaii's rate, or alternatively, that their contract or principles of comity mandated the Hawaii rate.The Supreme Court of the State of Utah affirmed the district court's decision to apply Utah's postjudgment interest rate. The court found that the UFJA, which does not specifically address postjudgment interest, instructs Utah courts to treat a foreign domesticated judgment like a Utah judgment for enforcement purposes. Since postjudgment interest serves, at least in part, as an enforcement mechanism, the UFJA requires the imposition of Utah’s postjudgment interest rate. Further, the construction contract did not require the application of the Hawaii postjudgment interest rate. The court did not consider principles of comity because the UFJA mandates a result. View "Sunstone Realty v. Bodell Construction" on Justia Law