Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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Plaintiff-appellant Eleni Gavriiloglou brought this action against her former employer and its alleged alter egos. She asserted, among other things: (1) individual claims for damages based on Labor Code violations; and (2) a representative claim for civil penalties for Labor Code violations under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). Gavriiloglou had signed an arbitration agreement, so the trial court compelled her to arbitrate her non-PAGA claims and stayed her PAGA claim while she did. The arbitrator found that the alleged Labor Code violations had not occurred. The trial court then granted judgment on the pleadings against Gavriiloglou on her PAGA claim, ruling that the arbitrator’s findings established that she was not an “aggrieved employee” within the meaning of PAGA, and therefore that she lacked standing to bring a PAGA claim. Gavriiloglou appealed, contending: (1) the trial court erred by denying her petition to vacate the arbitration award; and (2) the trial court erred by ruling that the arbitration award barred her PAGA claim. The Court of Appeal found that the trial court properly denied the motion to vacate the arbitration award. However, the Court also held that the arbitration did not bar the PAGA claim because Gavriiloglou was acting in different capacities and asserting different rights. Accordingly, judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Gavriiloglou v. Prime Healthcare Management" on Justia Law

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R&C, run by two employees, entered an agreement to haul equipment for American Wind. The agreement’s arbitration clause provides: any claim, dispute or controversy including, but not limited to the interpretation of any federal statutory or regulatory provisions purported to be encompassed by this Agreement; or the enforcement of any statutory rights emanating or relating to this Agreement shall be resolved on an individual basis (and not as part of a class action) exclusively between Contractor and Carrier by final and binding arbitration.R&C alleges that American Wind failed to make agreed-upon detention payments, resulting in a cash shortfall, forcing R&C to sell its trucks. R&C continued to haul equipment for American Wind but on behalf of the trucks’ new owner. R&C filed suit, alleging breach of contract and contending that the arbitration clause was unenforceable because R&C is a transportation worker operating under a contract of employment, exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). R&C also argued that the arbitration provision was unconscionable. After R&C refused to arbitrate, the case was dismissed for failure to prosecute. The Third Circuit affirmed, noting that R&C had not sought interlocutory review of the order compelling arbitration, as permitted by the FAA. The interlocutory order was not part of the final order, so the court concluded it lacked jurisdiction to review it. View "R & C Oilfield Services LLC v. American Wind Transport Group, LLC" on Justia Law

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The dispute at issue is between Jones Day and one of its former partners, a German national who was based in its Paris office until he left to join Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (“Orrick”). Jones Day’s partnership agreement provides for mandatory arbitration of all disputes among partners, and that all such arbitration proceedings are governed by the FAA. The partnership dispute proceeded to arbitration in Washington D.C., the location designated in the arbitration agreement.   The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s order denying Jones Day’s petitions to compel Orrick to comply with an arbitrator’s subpoena. First, the court held that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction over the action to enforce arbitral summonses issued by the arbitrator in an ongoing international arbitration being conducted in Washington, D.C., under the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, known as the New York Convention. The court further held that venue was proper in the Northern District of California. The court reversed and remanded with instructions to enforce Jones Day’s petitions to compel Orrick and its partners to comply with the arbitral summonses. View "JONES DAY V. ORRICK, HERRINGTON & SUTCLIFFE" on Justia Law

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The San Diego City Attorney brought an enforcement action under the Unfair Competition Law, Business and Professions Code sections 17200, et seq. (UCL), on behalf of the State of California against Maplebear Inc. DBA Instacart (Instacart). In their complaint, the State alleged Instacart unlawfully misclassified its employees as independent contractors in order to deny workers employee protections, harming its alleged employees and the public at large through a loss of significant payroll tax revenue, and giving Instacart an unfair advantage against its competitors. In response to the complaint, Instacart brought a motion to compel arbitration of a portion of the City’s action based on its agreements with the individuals it hires ("Shoppers"). The trial court denied the motion, concluding Instacart failed to meet its burden to show a valid agreement to arbitrate between it and the State. Instacart challenged the trial court’s order, arguing that even though the State was not a party to its Shopper agreements, they were bound by its arbitration provision to the extent they seek injunctive relief and restitution because these remedies were “primarily for the benefit of” the Shoppers. The Court of Appeal rejected this argument and affirmed the trial court’s order. View "California v. Maplebear Inc." on Justia Law

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The issue presented for the Court of Appeal's review in this case centered on whether California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1281.4 authorized the trial court to stay a plaintiff’s action on the basis of a pending arbitration to which the plaintiff was not a party. Ann Leenay brought an action against her former employer, Lowe’s Home Centers, LLC (Lowe’s), under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA). The trial court granted a petition to coordinate her action with a number of other PAGA actions against Lowe’s. Lowe’s then moved to stay the coordinated actions under section 1281.4. Lowe’s based the motion on over 50 arbitration proceedings against it, but Leenay and the other plaintiffs in the coordinated actions were not parties in any of those arbitration proceedings. The trial court granted the motion to stay, and Leenay filed a petition for writ of mandate asking the Court of Appeal to vacate the order. The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court erred by granting the motion to stay. "[S]ection 1281.4 applies only when a court has ordered parties to arbitration, the arbitrable issue arises in the pending court action, and the parties in the arbitration are also parties to the court action. Under those circumstances, the court must stay the action (or enter a stay with respect to the arbitrable issue, if the issue is severable)." Those circumstances did not exist in this case. The Court therefore granted Leenay’s writ petition. View "Leenay v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellee Preble-Rish Haiti, S.A. filed this case pursuant to Rule B of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. It sought to attach assets to secure a partial final arbitration award against the Republic of Haiti and the Bureau de Monétisation de Programmes d’Aide au Developpement (BMPAD). Garnishee BB Energy USA, L.L.C.(BB Energy) admitted to holding credits belonging to BMPAD located in the Southern District of Texas.   Although BB Energy raised BMPAD’s sovereign immunity from prejudgment attachment again, the district court stated it had already decided that issue and cited its August 10, 2021 order. BB Energy appealed the January 4, 2022 order pursuant to the collateral order doctrine   The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling and vacated the writ of attachment. The court explained that to satisfy Section 1610(d), an explicit waiver of immunity from prejudgment attachment must be express, clear, and unambiguous. Anything short of that is insufficient. Here, because there is no such explicit waiver in the contract or elsewhere, the district court erred in concluding BMPAD waived its sovereign immunity from prejudgment attachment. View "Preble-Rish Haiti, S.A. v. BB Energy USA" on Justia Law

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Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited, (“Esso”) the Nigerian subsidiary of an international oil corporation, asked federal courts in the United States to enforce an arbitral award of $1.8 billion, plus interest, against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (“NNPC”) that Nigerian courts have partially set aside. Courts in Nigeria previously set aside the Award in part. Nonetheless, Esso seeks enforcement of the entire Award under the New York Convention. NNPC urges dismissal of Esso’s suit for lack of personal jurisdiction and on the basis of forum non-conveniens, and it opposes the petition for enforcement on the merits.   The Second Circuit determined affirmed the district court’s rulings because its factual determinations were meticulous and its legal conclusions sound. The court held that NNPC has standing on cross-appeal to challenge the denial of its motion to dismiss, even though the district court ruled in its favor on the merits. NNPC has such standing because our partial vacatur on the merits revives the action against it, and it may face an adverse ruling on remand. On considering NNPC’s challenges to the district court’s denial of its motion to dismiss for want of personal jurisdiction and forum non-conveniens.   The court wrote that although the district court should have broadened its analysis under the Pemex standard, it ultimately agreed with its conclusion that U.S. courts owe the Nigerian judgments setting aside the Award comity.  The court concluded, however, that the district court went too far by refusing to enforce not only those parts of the Award that the Nigerian courts set aside but also those parts of the Award that remain viable under the Nigerian judgments. View "Esso Expl. and Prod. Nigeria Ltd. v. Nigerian Nat'l Petroleum Corp." on Justia Law

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California’s Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) authorizes any “aggrieved employee” to initiate an action against a former employer on behalf of himself and other current or former employees to obtain civil penalties that previously could have been recovered only by California’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency. California precedent holds that a PAGA suit is a “representative action” in which the plaintiff sues as an “agent or proxy” of the state. Moriana filed a PAGA action against her former employer, Viking, alleging multiple violations with respect to herself and other employees. Moriana’s employment contract contained a mandatory arbitration agreement with a “Class Action Waiver,” providing that the parties could not bring any class, collective, or representative action under PAGA, and a severability clause. California courts denied Viking’s motion to compel arbitration.The Supreme Court reversed. The Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 1 (FAA), preempts California precedent that precludes division of PAGA actions into individual and non-individual claims through an agreement to arbitrate. Viking was entitled to compel arbitration of Moriana’s individual claim. Moriana would then lack standing to maintain her non-individual claims in court.A PAGA action asserting multiple violations under California’s Labor Code affecting a range of different employees does not constitute “a single claim.” Nothing in the FAA establishes a categorical rule mandating enforcement of waivers of standing to assert claims on behalf of absent principals. PAGA’s built-in mechanism of claim joinder is in conflict with the FAA. State law cannot condition the enforceability of an agreement to arbitrate on the availability of a procedural mechanism that would permit a party to expand the scope of the anticipated arbitration by introducing claims that the parties did not jointly agree to arbitrate. View "Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana" on Justia Law

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Parties involved in arbitration proceedings abroad sought discovery in the U.S. under 28 U.S.C. 1782(a), which authorizes a district court to order the production of evidence “for use in a proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal.” One case, a contract dispute between private parties, was proceeding under the Arbitration Rules of the German Institution of Arbitration and involves a private dispute-resolution organization. The second case is proceeding against Lithuania before an ad hoc arbitration panel, in accordance with the Arbitration Rules of the U.N. Commission on International Trade Law.The Supreme Court held that the parties are not entitled to discovery. Only a governmental or intergovernmental adjudicative body constitutes a “foreign or international tribunal” under 28 U.S.C. 1782; the bodies at issue do not qualify. While a “tribunal” need not be a formal “court,” attached to the modifiers “foreign or international,” the phrase is best understood to refer to an adjudicative body that exercises governmental authority. The animating purpose of section 1782 is comity: Permitting federal courts to assist foreign and international governmental bodies promotes respect for foreign governments and encourages reciprocal assistance. Extending section 1782 to include private bodies would be in significant tension with the Federal Arbitration Act, which governs domestic arbitration; section 1782 permits much broader discovery than the FAA.The Court acknowledged that the arbitration panel involving Lithuania presents a harder question. The option to arbitrate is contained in an international treaty rather than a private contract but the two nations involved did not intend that an ad hoc panel exercise governmental authority. View "ZF Automotive U. S., Inc. v. Luxshare, Ltd." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a Russian citizen who resides in Russia, filed a civil RICO suit against Defendant Russian citizen who resides in California, and eleven other defendants. After securing a foreign arbitration award against Defendant. Plaintiff obtained a judgment from a United States district court confirming the award and giving Plaintiff the rights to execute that judgment in California and to pursue discovery. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants engaged in illegal activity, in violation of RICO, to thwart the execution of that California judgment.   Consistent with the Second and Third Circuits, but disagreeing with the Seventh Circuit’s residency-based test for domestic injuries involving intangible property, the court held that the alleged injuries to a judgment obtained by Plaintiff from a United States district court in California were domestic injuries to property such that Plaintiff had statutory standing under RICO. The court concluded that, for purposes of standing under RICO, the California judgment existed as property in California because the rights that it provided to Plaintiff existed only in California. In addition, much of the conduct underlying the alleged injury occurred in or was targeted at California. View "VITALY SMAGIN V. COMPAGNIE MONEGASQUE DE BANQUE" on Justia Law