Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Contracts
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
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
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
RUAG Ammotec GmbH v. Archon Firearms, Inc.
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court as to Appellants' motions to compel arbitration and remanded the case, holding that "where the nonsignatory seeking to compel arbitration demonstrates both the right to enforce the contract and that compelling another nonsignatory to arbitration is warranted under standard principles of contract law or estoppel, compelling arbitration is appropriate."At issue was whether a nonsignatory to a contract containing an arbitration clause can be compelled to participate in arbitration by another signatory. The district court denied both Appellants' first and second motions to compel arbitration. The Supreme Court reversed as to Appellants' first and second motions to compel arbitration, holding where a nonsignatory to a contract containing an arbitration provision moves to compel another nonsignatory to arbitrate, the nonsignatory seeking to compel arbitration must demonstrate the right to enforce the arbitration agreement and show that compelling the other nonsignatory to arbitration is warranted. View "RUAG Ammotec GmbH v. Archon Firearms, Inc." on Justia Law
Reliance Health Care, Inc. v. Mitchell
The Supreme Court dismissed this interlocutory appeal of a vacated class certification order and directed the circuit court to remand the case to address motions to compel arbitration, holding that this appeal was moot.Plaintiffs, who represented the estates of former residents of fourteen different nursing homes, alleged breach of contract and unjust enrichment claims against the nursing homes, in violation of the Arkansas Civil Rights act and the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The nursing homes moved to compel arbitration for all but two of the named plaintiffs, after which the plaintiffs moved for class certification. The circuit court granted Plaintiffs' motion for class certification without ruling on the motions to compel arbitration. The nursing homes brought an interlocutory appeal of the class-certification order and petitioned for writ of prohibition, mandamus, and certiorari. The Supreme Court granted the writ petition, vacating the order granting class certification, and ordered the circuit court to rule on the motions to compel before ruling on class certification, holding that the interlocutory appeal of the vacated class-certification order was moot. View "Reliance Health Care, Inc. v. Mitchell" on Justia Law
Brown v. GoJet Airlines, LLC
The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the circuit court overruling GoJet Airlines, LLC's motion to compel arbitration in this breach of contract action brought by Hampton Brown and remanded this case to compel arbitration, holding that the circuit court erred in refusing to compel arbitration.Brown, who had worked for GoJet as a pilot, filed a class action suit alleging that GoJet breached the parties' bonus agreement by failing to issue bonuses to him and other employees. In response, GoJet filed a motion to compel arbitration, arguing that the parties entered into a mutually binding and enforceable arbitration agreement requiring that this dispute be arbitrated. The circuit court overruled the circuit court's motion to compel arbitration. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment below, holding (1) the parties' agreement was governed by the Missouri Uniform Arbitration Agreement, and arbitration may be compelled under its provisions; (2) the circuit court erred by finding the arbitration agreement unenforceable due to its lack of statutory notice; and (3) Brown's motion to strike was overruled. View "Brown v. GoJet Airlines, LLC" on Justia Law
Women’s Care Specialists, P.C. v. Potter
Consolidated appeals arose from an employment dispute between Dr. Margot Potter and her former employer, Women's Care Specialists, P.C. ("Women's Care"), and out of a dispute between Potter and three Women's Care employees: Dr. Karla Kennedy, Dr. Elizabeth Barron, and Beth Ann Dorsett ("the WC employees"). In case no. CV-21-903797, Potter alleged claims of defamation, tortious interference with a business relationship, and breach of contract against Women's Care. In case no. CV-21-903798, Potter alleged claims of defamation and tortious interference with a business relationship against the WC employees. After the cases were consolidated by the circuit court, Women's Care and the WC employees moved to compel arbitration on the basis that Potter's claims were within the scope of the arbitration provision in Potter's employment agreement with Women's Care and that the arbitration provision governed their disputes even though Potter was no longer a Women's Care employee. The trial court denied those motions. In appeal no. SC-2022-0706, the Alabama Supreme Court held Potter's breach of-contract claim and her tort claims against Women's Care were subject to arbitration. In appeal no. SC-2022-0707, the Court likewise held Potter's tort claims against the WC employees were subject to arbitration. The trial court's orders were denied and the cases remanded for further proceedings. View "Women's Care Specialists, P.C. v. Potter" on Justia Law
Land v. IU Credit Union
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting the IU Credit Union's (IUCU) motion to compel individual arbitration and finding an enforceable agreement to arbitrate between the parties, holding that Tonia Land's silence and inaction did not amount to acceptance of the agreement.When Land, who maintained at least two checking accounts with IUCU, registered for online banking for one of her accounts she received by email a an agreement (the disclosure) permitting ICU to modify the terms and conditions to its services and send any notice to Land via email. Under the disclosure, Land was deemed to have received any such notice three days after it was sent. IUCU later sent Land an addendum, which Land claimed never to have received. Land later filed a class action complaint alleging breach of contract and other claims based on the agreement's amendment. IUCU moved to compel individual arbitration, which the trial court granted. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) IUCU provided Land with reasonable written notice of its offer to amend the agreement; (2) Land's silence and inaction did not amount to an acceptance of IUCU's offer; and (3) therefore, there was no enforceable agreement to arbitrate. View "Land v. IU Credit Union" on Justia Law