Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Insurance Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying a writ of prohibition of administrative proceedings initiated by the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance, holding that the district court did not err in denying the writ of prohibition.The Commissioner issued a notice of proposed agency action and opportunity for hearing, alleging that Victory Insurance Company violated various provisions of the Insurance Code, including the requirements to provide the Commissioner access to certain managing general act (MGA) records "in a form usable to the commissioner." Victory responded by filing for a writ of prohibition seeking to halt the proceedings. The district court denied the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commissioner's proceedings were within the agency's jurisdiction; (2) Victory had a legal remedy by way of appeal of the Commissioner's decision; and (3) Victory's federal litigation addressing a different legal issue did not have preclusive effect. View "Victory Insurance Co. v. Downing" on Justia Law

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Empire Indemnity Insurance Company issued an insurance policy (the “Policy”) to Positano Place at Naples I Condominium Association, Inc., for coverage of five buildings that Positano owns in Naples, Florida. Following Hurricane Irma, Positano filed a first-party claim for property insurance benefits under the Policy, claiming that Hurricane Irma damaged its property and that the damage was covered by the Policy. Empire determined that there was coverage to only three of the five buildings covered by the Policy but disagreed as to the amount of the loss. Positano sought to invoke appraisal based on the Policy’s appraisal provision. Positano then sued Empire in Florida state court, and Empire removed the case to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction. Positano moved to compel appraisal and to stay the case pending the resolution of the appraisal proceedings, which Empire opposed. The magistrate judge issued a report recommending that the district court grant Positano’s motion, and, over Empire’s objection, the district court ordered the parties to appraisal and stayed the proceedings pending appraisal. Empire timely appealed the district court’s order.   The Eleventh Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction. The court concluded that the district court’s order compelling appraisal and staying the proceedings pending appraisal is an interlocutory order that is not immediately appealable under 28 U.S.C. Section 1292(a)(1). The court also concluded that the order compelling appraisal and staying the action pending appraisal is not immediately appealable under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). View "Positano Place at Naples I Condominium Association, Inc. v. Empire Indemnity Insurance Company" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting a motion to compel arbitration in this insurance dispute, holding that the district court correctly granted the motion to compel arbitration brought by the underwriters of Green Enterprises, LLC's insurance policy, all syndicates at Lloyd's of London (Underwriters).After a fire destroyed one of its plants, Green, a Puerto Rican recycling company, filed an insurance claim. Underwriters denied the claim, after which Green brought this lawsuit. Underwriters filed a motion to compel arbitration under an arbitration clause in the parties' contract. The district court granted the motion and dismissed Green's claims without prejudice. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly granted the motion to compel. View "Green Enterprises, LLC v. Hiscox Syndicates Limited at Lloyd's of London" on Justia Law

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Maria chose her family’s benefits during her 2014 orientation, using Coppola laptops. Coppola’s HR team was available to answer questions. The authorization agreement notifies enrollees that "clicking the SAVE button below ... will serve as my electronic signature of agreement to the ... Arbitration Agreement (above)," and “If you do not wish to accept the arbitration agreement above you must click on the CANCEL button below.”Andrea (Maria’s daughter) sued Kaiser, for its failure to timely diagnose her aggressive cancer. Kaiser petitioned to compel arbitration. Andrea argued Kaiser failed to comply with Health and Safety Code 1363.1’s specific requirements for disclosing arbitration agreements with healthcare service plans. Maria declared she was unaware of signing an arbitration agreement. Although Maria had a good understanding of English, she was not a native speaker and declared she could not read English well enough to understand she was agreeing to arbitration. Maria also stated she did not know how to operate the computer. The court granted Kaiser’s motion. The parties selected an arbitrator from a list. A disclosure statement listed the arbitrator’s prior and pending cases involving Kaiser. The arbitrator later sent notices informing the parties he had agreed to arbitrate additional Kaiser cases. The arbitrator concluded Kaiser was not liable for Andrea’s death.The court of appeal affirmed the denial of a motion to vacate. The arbitrator had an initial obligation to disclose he had pending cases involving Kaiser and was not obligated to disclose their outcome; the fact the arbitrator decided cases in Kaiser’s favor during the pendency of the Perezes’ arbitration would not raise doubt the arbitrator would be impartial. View "Perez v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Tutor Perini Building Corp. appealed from the district court’s order affirming an order of the United States Bankruptcy Court, which held that Plaintiff may not use 11 U.S.C. Section 365(b)(1)(A) to assert a “cure claim” against the Trustee for the Trustee’s assumption of an unexpired lease to which Plaintiff was neither a party nor a third-party beneficiary.   The Second Circuit affirmed. The court held that a creditor who seeks to assert a “cure claim” under Section 365(b)(1)(A) must have a contractual right to payment under the assumed executory contract or unexpired lease in question, and the court agreed that Plaintiff is not a third-party beneficiary of the assumed lease. The court explained that Tutor Perini’s expansive view of the priority rights conferred by 11 U.S.C. Section 365(b)(1)(A) is inconsistent with applicable principles of Bankruptcy Code interpretation, and its third-party beneficiary argument is inconsistent with controlling principles of New York contract law. View "In re: George Washington Bridge" on Justia Law

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Martinique Properties, LLC filed a complaint against Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London (Underwriters), seeking to vacate an arbitration award. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim for vacatur. Martinique Properties appealed. Martinique Properties argues that the appraisal award must be vacated because the appraisers “used figures and measurements which are contrary to the actual conditions of the Property” and failed to “consider certain buildings” and certain portions of a damaged roof when determining the appraisal award. These alleged errors, Martinique Properties argues, show that the appraisers were either “guilty of misconduct” or “so imperfectly executed” their powers that “a mutual, final, and definite award . . . was not made,” two of the four grounds for vacating an award under the FAA.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court found that Martinique Properties has alleged only factual errors that challenge the merits of the appraisal award, and the court has no authority to reconsider the merits of an arbitration award, even when the parties allege that the award rests on factual errors. Accordingly, the appraisers’ use of certain figures and measurements in calculating the amount of loss here, and their alleged failure to consider particular buildings and portions of roof damage, even if incorrect, are not sufficient for vacatur under the FAA. View "Martinique Properties, LLC v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's of London" on Justia Law

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Bachman Farms grows apples in Ohio and protected its 2017 crop with federally reinsured crop insurance from Producers Agriculture. When farmers and private insurers enter a federally reinsured crop insurance contract, they agree to common terms set by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC), including a requirement that the parties arbitrate coverage disputes. In those proceedings, the arbitrator must defer to agency interpretations of the common policy. Failure to do so results in the nullification of the arbitration award. Bachman lost at its arbitration with Producers Agriculture and alleged that the arbitrator engaged in impermissible policy interpretation. Bachman petitioned to nullify the arbitration award.The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. The petition to nullify did not comply with the substance or the three-month time limit of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 12. When a dispute concerning federally reinsured crop insurance involves a policy or procedure interpretation, the parties “must obtain an interpretation from FCIC.” Bachman did not seek an interpretation from FCIC but went directly to federal court to seek nullification under the common policy and its accompanying regulations—an administrative remedy—rather than vacatur under the FAA. View "Bachman Sunny Hill Fruit Farms v. Producers Agriculture Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the circuit court confirming M.O.'s arbitration award in this personal injury action, holding that the circuit court erred in confirming the arbitration award because GEICO General Insurance Company was statutorily entitled to intervene in the pending lawsuit between M.O. and M.B. pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 537.065.2.M.O. sued M.B. alleging that she had contracted HPV from M.B. while having sexual relations in M.B.'s vehicle, which was insured by GEICO. had sexual relations in M.B.'s vehicle, which was insured by GEICO. M.B. and M.O., without informing GEICO, entered into an agreement providing that M.O.'s claims were be submitted to arbitration but that M.O. would seek recovery of any judgment from M.B.'s insurers. The arbitrator awarded M.O. $5.2 million. M.O. then sued M.B. without informing GEICO. After GEICO filed its motion to intervene the circuit court confirmed the arbitration award. Thereafter, the circuit court sustained GEICO's motion to intervene. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court's judgment, holding that GEICO was statutorily entitled to intervene in the underlying lawsuit before judgment was entered. View "M.O. v. GEICO General Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs in these 177 consolidated appeals1 were participants in a 401(k) Profit Sharing Plan (the “Plan”) provided to employees by DST Systems, Inc. (“DST”), a financial and healthcare services company based in Kansas City, Missouri. At the time in question, DST was the Plan’s sponsor, administrator, and a designated fiduciary. Ruane Cunniff & Goldfarb Inc. (“Ruane”) was a Plan fiduciary involved in managing the Plan’s investments. Between October and December 2021, the district court issued seven largely identical orders confirming the arbitration awards to 177 claimants and granting their requests for substantial costs and attorneys’ fees. Defendants appealed, raising numerous issues.   The Eighth Circuit vacated the district court’s judgment including the awards of attorney’s fees, and the consolidated cases are remanded to the district court for determination of transfer and subject matter jurisdiction issues, to the extent necessary. The court concluded that transfer under Section 1631 is an issue that can be addressed before the district court’s subject matter jurisdiction is resolved. The court declined to consider the issue because Badgerow has changed underlying circumstances that may affect whether transfer “is in the interest of justice.” View "Theresa Hursh v. DST Systems, Inc" on Justia Law

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The Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980 imposes liability on employers who withdraw—partially or completely—from multiemployer pension funds. After a complete withdrawal, GCIU-Employer Retirement Fund’s (GCIU) actuary calculated MNG Enterprise’s (MNG) withdrawal liability using an interest rate published by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. On MNG’s challenge, an arbitrator found (1) that MNG could not be assessed partial withdrawal liability following a complete withdrawal, (2) that it had shown the interest rate used was not the best estimate of the plan’s experience, and (3) that GCIU properly included the newspapers’ contribution histories. The district court affirmed the arbitrator’s award, vacating and correcting only a typographical error on the interest rate.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court’s order affirming, except for a typographical error, an arbitrator’s award regarding the withdrawal liability. The panel held that the MPPAA directs the plan actuary to determine withdrawal liability based on “actuarial assumptions and methods which, in the aggregate, are reasonable (taking into account the experience of the plan and reasonable expectations) and which, in combination, offer the actuary’s best estimate of anticipated experience under the plan.” The panel held that the GCIU actuary’s use of the PBGC rate, without considering the “experience of the plan and reasonable expectations,” did not satisfy the “best estimate” standard. View "GCIU-EMPLOYER RETIREMENT FUND, ET AL V. MNG ENTERPRISES, INC." on Justia Law