Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court applying this Court's decision in State ex rel. AMFM, LLC v. King, 740 S.E.2d 66 (W. Va. 2013), to conclude that Respondent lacked authority to bind her mother to an arbitration agreement, holding that there was no error.Respondent admitted her mother to The Villages at Greystone, an assisted living residence, when Respondent was not her mother's attorney-in-fact. In her capacity as her mother's medical surrogate Respondent completed on her mother's behalf a residency agreement and an arbitration agreement. Respondent later sued Petitioners, alleging that her mother had suffered injuries while a resident of Greystone due to Petitioners' negligence. Petitioners filed a motion to arbitrate the claim, but the circuit court denied the motion, concluding that no valid arbitration agreement existed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Petitioners failed to establish a valid agreement to arbitrate on the facts of this case. View "Beckley Health Partners, Ltd. v. Hoover" on Justia Law

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A cryogenic storage tank, manufactured by Chart and used by PFC, a San Francisco fertility clinic, to store patients’ reproductive material, experienced a failure. A putative class action was filed in federal court against four defendants. Claims against Chart proceeded in federal court; claims against other defendants proceeded in arbitration. Claimants not involved in the federal litigation filed subsequently-coordinated suits in California state courts against the four defendants. Arbitration was compelled for about 260 claims against PFC but not the other defendants. After 18 months of negotiations and discovery, three defendants reached an agreement to resolve the claims against them in all proceedings. The trial court entered a good faith settlement determination, dismissing with prejudice “[a]ll existing cross-complaints” for equitable indemnity or contribution against the settling defendants.Chart, the non-settling defendant, unsuccessfully challenged the good faith settlement determination in a mandamus proceeding, then filed an appeal. The court of appeal dismissed the appeal, noting a split among the divisions. When one tortfeasor defendant intends to settle a case before it is resolved against all defendants, the tortfeasor may petition the court for a determination that the settlement was made in good faith. (Code Civ. Proc. 877.6.) so that the other defendants are barred from obtaining contribution or indemnification from the settling tortfeasor based on the parties’ comparative negligence or fault. The court’s good faith determination is reviewable only by a timely petition for writ of mandate. View "Pacific Fertility Cases" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a party who does not receive notice of an interlocutory order denying arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act in time to appeal because of the trial court clerk's error may seek review by mandamus.Plaintiff sued her employer alleging negligence. Defendant moved to compel arbitration based on its mandatory arbitration policy. The trial court denied the motion to compel, ruling that the policy was unconscionable. The court of appeals remanded the case, after which Defendant filed a supplemental motion to compel arbitration. The trial court denied the motion, but the clerk failed to give Defendant notice of the order. Defendant finally received notice of the order five months after it issued. The Supreme Court issued a writ of mandamus and directed the trial court promptly to issue an order compelling arbitration of Plaintiff's claims, holding (1) the clerk's failure to give notice of the trial court's order deprived Defendant of an adequate appellate remedy; and (2) the arbitration agreement was not illusory. View "In re Whataburger Restaurants LLC" on Justia Law

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Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center, Inc., d/b/a Sovereign Health of San Clemente, and its owner, Tonmoy Sharma, (collectively Sovereign) appealed the trial court's denial of Sovereign's motion to compel arbitration of claims asserted by Allen and Rose Nelson for themselves and on behalf of their deceased son, Brandon. The Nelsons alleged a cause of action for wrongful death, and on behalf of Brandon, negligence, negligence per se, dependent adult abuse or neglect, negligent misrepresentation, and fraud. According to the complaint, despite concluding that 26-year-old "Brandon requires 24 hour supervision ... at this time" after admitting him to its residential facility following his recent symptoms of psychosis, Sovereign personnel allowed him to go to his room alone, where he hung himself with the drawstring of his sweatpants. The trial court denied Sovereign's motion to compel arbitration because: (1) the court found Sovereign failed to meet its burden to authenticate an electronic signature as Brandon's on Sovereign's treatment center emollment agreement; and (2) even assuming Brandon signed the agreement, it was procedurally and substantively unconscionable, precluding enforcement against Brandon or, derivatively, his parents. Sovereign challenged the trial court's authentication and unconscionability findings. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "Nelson v. Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Second District Court of Appeal reversing the circuit court's grant of Airbnb, Inc.'s motion to compel arbitration, holding that the circuit court did not err in compelling arbitration.Plaintiffs brought this complaint against Airbnb, alleging constructive intrusion and loss of consortium. After a hearing, the circuit court granted Airbnb's motion to compel arbitration and stayed the underlying lawsuit pending arbitration, finding that the parties entered into an express agreement that incorporated the the American Arbitration Association (AAA) rules, requiring Airbnb to submit the issue of arbitrability to the arbitrator. The Second District Court reversed, concluding that the arbitration provision and the AAA rule it referenced did not amount to "clear and unmistakable" evidence that the parties agreed to arbitrate arbitrability. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Airbnb's terms of service that incorporate by reference rules that expressly delegate arbitrability determinations to an arbitrator constitute clear and unmistakable evidence of the parties' intent to authorize an arbitrator, rather than a court, to resolve questions of arbitrability. View "Airbnb, Inc. v. Doe" on Justia Law

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Claude Rogers, a former resident of a residential care facility for the elderly known as Meadow Oaks of Roseville, died after experiencing heatstroke. His wife and successor-in-interest Kathryn and sons Jeffrey, Phillip and Richard sued Meadow Oaks of Roseville, Roseville SH, LLC, CPR/AR Roseville SH Owner, LLC, DCP Investors Roseville SH, LLC, DCP Management Roseville SH, LLC, Westmont Living, Inc., Tanysha Borromeo, Ana Rojas, and Andrew Badoud for elder abuse, fraud, and wrongful death. Defendants appealed an order denying their petition to compel plaintiffs to arbitrate their claims pursuant to an arbitration agreement that was part of the Residency Agreement Richard signed as Claude’s representative. Although defendants filed a notice of appeal, the appellate briefs were filed on behalf of Roseville SH, LLC only. Roseville SH, LLC contended that in denying the petition to compel arbitration: (1) the trial court erroneously believed defendants had to show that Claude lacked mental capacity to consent before they could prove that Richard had the authority to sign the arbitration agreement for Claude; (2) the trial court erred in concluding that Richard did not act as Claude’s actual or ostensible agent when he signed the arbitration agreement on Claude’s behalf; and (3) the trial court’s order violated the Federal Arbitration Act. The Court of Appeal concluded: (1) Roseville SH, LLC misconstrued the trial court’s analysis; (2) the trial court did not err in denying the petition to compel arbitration; and (3) the trial court’s order did not violate the Federal Arbitration Act. Accordingly, judgment was affirmed. View "Rogers v. Roseville SH, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Curtis Olson failed to show the requisite "minimal merit" on a critical element of his breach of contract claim and thus could not defeat Jane Doe's anti-SLAPP motion.Doe and Olson each owned units in the same condominium building. Doe brought a civil harassment restraining order against Olson, and as a result of court-ordered mediation, the parties agreed if they encountered each other in a public or common place "not to disparage one another." Doe later filed a civil lawsuit against Olson seeking damages. Olson cross-complained for breach of contract and specific performance, and Doe moved to strike Olson's cross-complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeal's judgment insofar as it reversed the trial court's order granting Doe's special motion to strike the breach of contract clause of action with respect to statements in Doe's civil complaint, holding that Doe had no obligation under the contract to refrain from making disparaging statements in litigation, and therefore, Olson could not defeat Doe's anti-SLAPP motion. View "Olson v. Doe" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the trial court denying a motion to compel arbitration, holding that a fee agreement between a client and her attorney, especially where the attorney agrees to advance the costs of arbitration, is relevant to determining a plaintiff's ability to arbitrate her claims.Plaintiff signed two contracts with Defendants when arranging for her mother, Concetta Rizzio, to live at a nursing care facility. Each contract included an arbitration clause with a cost-shifting provision (the agreement) stating that Rizzio would be responsible for all costs of arbitration if she made a claim against the nursing home. When a fellow resident attacked Rizzio, Plaintiff brought this action alleging negligence and abuse of a vulnerable adult. The trial court denied Defendants' motion to compel arbitration, finding that the agreement was unduly oppressive, unenforceable, and unconscionable. The court of appeals reversed as to the issue of procedural unconscionability but agreed that the cost-shifting provision was substantively unconscionable. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the agreement was not substantively unconscionable and that it was enforceable. View "Rizzio v. Surpass Senior Living LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff B. A. Tyler filed suit against David Findling; the Findling Law Firm, PLC; and Mekel Miller, alleging that David Findling published defamatory statements to attorney Anna Wright by telling her that plaintiff and plaintiff’s client (Samir Warda, for whose estate Findling had been appointed as a receiver) might have engaged in inappropriate or illegal activities. Findling made the allegedly defamatory statements to Wright, Warda’s attorney in a personal protection insurance (PIP) lawsuit, who recorded the conversation, in a room reserved for the plaintiffs’ side at the outset of a court-ordered mediation in the PIP matter. Wright subsequently shared this recording with plaintiff. Findling and his law firm (collectively, “defendants”) moved for summary judgment, and plaintiff responded with an affidavit by Wright. Defendants moved to strike Wright’s affidavit and to preclude her testimony at trial. The trial court granted the motion to strike under MCL 2.412(C), which governed the confidentiality of mediation communications, and granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff’s motion to file an amended complaint was also denied. In an unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals vacated the trial court’s order granting defendants’ motion to strike Wright’s affidavit and find her testimony inadmissible, reversed the order granting defendants summary judgment, affirmed the order denying plaintiff’s motion to amend his complaint, and remanded for further proceedings. The Michigan Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals in part, finding Findling's statements were indeed "mediation communications" under MCR 2.412(B)(2) and were therefore confidential under MCR 2.412(C). The Supreme Court also determined the appeals court erred in reversing the grant of summary judgment without which, plaintiff had no evidence to support the relevant defamation allegations. In all other respects, the appellate court's judgment was affirmed. View "Tyler v. Finding" on Justia Law

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The primary issue in consolidated appeals was the scope of an automobile insurance policy’s arbitration provision. Two insureds with identical Allstate Insurance Company medical payments and uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance coverage settled with their respective at-fault drivers for applicable liability insurance policy limits and then made medical payments and UIM benefits claims to Allstate. Allstate and the insureds were unable to resolve the UIM claims and went to arbitration as the policy required. The arbitration panels initially answered specific questions submitted about the insureds’ accident-related damages. At the insureds’ requests but over Allstate’s objections, the panels later calculated what the panels believed Allstate ultimately owed the insureds under their medical payments and UIM coverages and issued final awards. Allstate filed superior court suits to confirm the initial damages calculations, reject the final awards as outside the arbitration panels’ authority, and have the court determine the total amounts payable to the insureds under their policies. The judge assigned to both suits affirmed the final arbitration awards; Allstate appealed both decisions. The Alaska Supreme Court determined the arbitration panels had no authority to determine anything beyond the insureds’ damages arising from their accidents and because Allstate withheld its consent for the panels to determine anything else, the Court reversed the superior court’s decisions and judgments. The Supreme Court also reversed some aspects of the superior court’s separate analysis and rulings on legal issues that the panels improperly decided. Given (1) the arbitration panels’ damages calculations and (2) the Supreme Court's clarification of legal issues presented, the cases were remanded for the superior court to determine the amount, if any, Allstate had to pay each insured under their medical payments and UIM coverages. View "Allstate Insurance Company v. Harbour" on Justia Law