Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Personal Injury
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In this appeal centering on the existence of a valid arbitration agreement the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court, holding that the circuit court erred in compelling arbitration of the question of whether the arbitration clause in the agreements at issue was valid.The arbitration clause in this case stemmed from transactions between lead paint tort plaintiffs who received structured settlements and affiliated factoring companies that specialize in purchasing structured settlement rights. Defendants filed motions to compel arbitration and stay the case, but Plaintiffs challenged the existence of a valid agreement to arbitrate. The trial court granted the motion to compel arbitration, finding that the arbitrator was to determine the issue of arbitrability. The Court of Special Appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the circuit court erroneously compelled arbitration and that the issue of whether a valid arbitration agreement exists is an issue for the court to determine. View "Access Funding, LLC v. Linton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the district court erred in denying Appellant's motion to compel arbitration and refusing to submit the arbitrability determination under the circumstances of this case to an arbitrator.Plaintiffs sued Airbnb, Inc. for wrongful death and personal injury alleging that Airbnb's services had been used by a party's host to rent the house where a shooting occurred, resulting in a fatality. Airbnb moved to compel arbitration, arguing that Plaintiffs had agreed to Airbnb's Terms of Service during the registration process for their accounts. The district court denied the motion to compel. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the Federal Arbitrability Administration governed the enforcement of arbitration agreement at issue, and because the agreement delegated the arbitrability question to an arbitrator, the district court erred in deciding the arbitrability question. View "Airbnb, Inc. v. Rice" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, independent contractors of American Family Life Insurance Company of Columbus (Aflac), alleged that an Aflac employee, sexually assaulted Plaintiff in her hotel room during a work conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendant, asserting tort claims for battery, assault, false imprisonment, and loss of consortium, among others. the beneficiary under Plaintiffs’ Arbitration Agreements with Aflac. The district court denied the motion as to the aforementioned claims, holding that they did not arise under or relate in any way to the arbitration agreements. Defendant appealed, arguing that the claims fall within the scope of the arbitration agreements.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court held that Plaintiffs’ tort claims do not fall within the scope of the Arbitration Agreements. The facts underlying Plaintiffs’ tort claims do not touch matters covered by Plaintiffs’ Arbitration Agreements in light of the Agreements’ limiting language requiring the “dispute arise under or relate in any way to the Associate’s Agreements. As a result, the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to compel arbitration. View "Katherine Anderson v. Jeffrey Hansen" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff designated his nephew as his health care agent and attorney-in-fact using an advance health care directive and power of attorney for health care decisions form developed by the California Medical Association (the Advance Directive). After the execution of the Advance Directive, Plaintiff was admitted to a skilled nursing facility. Nineteen days later, his nephew executed an admission agreement and a separate arbitration agreement purportedly on Plaintiff’s behalf as his “Legal Representative/Agent”. The sole issue on appeal is whether the nephew was authorized to sign the arbitration agreement on Plaintiff’s behalf.   In answering the relevant question on appeal, the Second Appellate District held that an agent’s authority to make “health care decisions” on a principal’s behalf does not include the authority to execute optional arbitration agreements. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court’s order denying the motion to compel arbitration. The court explained that its conclusion that the execution of an arbitration agreement is not a “health care decision” finds support in the regulatory history of the recently enacted federal regulatory scheme prohibiting nursing facilities participating in Medicare or Medicaid programs from requiring a resident (or his representative) to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of admission. Specifically, in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (i.e., the agency’s) responses to public comments published in the Federal Register. These comments and responses demonstrate that practically speaking, arbitration agreements are not executed as part of the health care decision-making process, but rather are entered into only after the agent chooses a nursing facility based on the limited options available and other factors unrelated to arbitration. View "Logan v. Country Oaks Partners" on Justia Law

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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