Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals
Candelario-Del-Moral v. Efron
David Efron and his former wife, Madeleine Candelario-Del-Moral, were engaged in long-running litigation related to their high-stakes divorce. In 2006, a Puerto Rico court in which the divorce proceedings were pending issued an order attaching the funds held in Efron’s UBS Financial Services Inc. accounts. The court subsequently made a ruling that may or may not have vacated the attachment. UBS treated the attachment as void and dispersed the bulk of the funds. Candelario sued UBS in federal district court for negligently releasing the attached funds. Ultimately, at the district court’s suggestion, UBS and Candelario opted to undertake mediation. Thereafter, Efron moved to intervene as of right in the Candelario-UBS litigation. The district court denied the motion. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of the motion and denied Candelario’s motion for appellate sanctions, holding (1) the Court had jurisdiction to hear and determine Efron’s interlocutory appeal; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in deeming Efron’s motion to intervene untimely and in refusing to grant it; and (3) although Efron’s case for intervention was weak, it was not frivolous. View "Candelario-Del-Moral v. Efron" on Justia Law
Nat’l Cas. Co. v. OneBeacon Am. Ins. Co.
For twenty years, Defendants, various entities of OneBeacon American Insurance Company (collectively, “OneBeacon”), had a program known as Multiple Line Excess Cover (“MLEC Program”) under which OneBeacon entered into reinsurance contracts (“MLEC Agreements”) with various reinsurers. Employers Insurance Company of Wausau, National Casualty Company, and Swiss Reinsurance America Corporation (“Swiss Re”) participated as reinsurers in the MLEC Program. Some of the MLEC Agreements Wausau entered into with OneBeacon were practically identical to OneBeacon’s MLEC Agreements with Swiss Re. In 2007, OneBeacon demanded arbitration with Swiss Re seeking reinsurance recovery for losses arising out of claims against OneBeacon by policyholders. The arbitration panel decided in favor of Swiss Re. In 2012, OneBeacon demanded arbitration with Wausau and National Casualty for, according to Wausau, the same claims OneBeacon arbitrated and lost against Swiss Re. Wausau and National Casualty petitioned for a declaratory judgment that the prior arbitration award between OneBeacon and Swiss Re had preclusive effect on the arbitration pending between OneBeacon and Wausau. The district court denied the petition. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that judicial confirmation of an arbitration award “does not warrant deviation from the general rule that the preclusive effect of a prior arbitration is a matter for the arbitrator to decide.” View "Nat'l Cas. Co. v. OneBeacon Am. Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Bezio v. Draeger
When Plaintiff retained a Maine law firm to represent him in a legal action, he signed an attorney-client engagement letter that contained an arbitration provision. Plaintiff later sued the law firm and individual defendants (collectively, Defendants) for malpractice and violations of Maine's Unfair Trade Practices Act. Defendants moved to compel arbitration and dismiss the action. The district court granted the motion under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the district court erred in enforcing the arbitration clause. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting the motion to compel arbitration and dismissed the action, as (1) Maine professional responsibility law for attorneys permits arbitration of legal malpractice claims so long as there is no prospective limitation on the law firm's liability; and (2) Maine law, like the FAA, is not hostile to the use of the arbitration forum, and Maine would enforce the arbitration of malpractice claims provision in this case. View "Bezio v. Draeger" on Justia Law
N. New England Telephone Operations LLC v. Local 2327, Int’l Brotherhood of Elec. Workers, ALF-CIO
Verizon New England, Inc. ("Verizon") had a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with Local 2327, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO (the "Union") that was originally signed in 2003. When, in 2008, FairPoint Communications ("FairPoint") purchased Verizon's telecommunication operations in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, FairPoint agreed to hire all former Verizon employees, represented by the Union, in those states. In 2010, the Union filed a grievance against FairPoint based on allegedly wrongful transfer of work. An arbitration panel entered an award against FairPoint, concluding that the facts constituted a wrongful conveyance. FairPoint filed suit in district court, arguing that the arbitral panel had exceeded its authority by wrongfully adding and subtracting terms from the CBA. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Union. Nonetheless, the district court denied costs and fees pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 11. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) no grounds existed on which to vacate the arbitral award; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying costs and fees. View "N. New England Telephone Operations LLC v. Local 2327, Int'l Brotherhood of Elec. Workers, ALF-CIO" on Justia Law
Atwater v. Driscoll
Plaintiff was a teacher in the Manchester-Essex Regional School District until he was informed by the District Superintendent's intention to terminate his employment for inappropriate sexual conduct toward a student. Plaintiff sought review of the Superintendent's action. An arbitrator affirmed Plaintiff's dismissal. Plaintiff then filed suit in Massachusetts superior court challenging his dismissal and seeking to vacate the arbitrator's decision. Three weeks later, Plaintiff filed this complaint in federal court alleging state and federal law violations. The next day, Plaintiff amended his state-court complaint so it contained the exact same claims as his federal-court complaint. The state court rejected Plaintiff's claims and affirmed the arbitrator's decision. Later, the federal district court granted summary judgment against Plaintiff, finding that Plaintiff's claims were barred by res judicata. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that none of the reasons presented by Plaintiff why res judicata did not bar his federal claims from adjudication in federal court were persuasive. View "Atwater v. Driscoll" on Justia Law
Awuah v. Coverall N. Am., Inc.
Defendant in this case was a franchisor and Plaintiffs were its franchisees. After Plaintiffs sued Defendant, the district court certified a class, excluding those franchisees whose agreements with Defendant contained clauses expressly requiring arbitration. While those franchisees pursued arbitration, the arbitrator imposed a stay of the arbitrations of ten of those franchisees. The district court later concluded that Defendant had violated an order requiring it to obtain judicial permission before making any motion to delay or prevent arbitration proceedings and sanctioned Defendant by admitting to the class the ten franchisees, relieving them of their obligations to arbitrate. Defendant then unsuccessfully filed a motion to reconsider the sanction and to stay the ten franchisees' judicial proceedings pending arbitration. The First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the district court's determination that Defendant violated the order was an abuse of discretion; and (2) therefore, there was no basis for the sanction, and Defendant's motion to stay should have been granted. View "Awuah v. Coverall N. Am., Inc." on Justia Law
Doral Fin. Corp. v. Garcia-Velez
Plaintiff terminated Defendant from employment. Thereafter, Defendant began arbitration proceedings seeking severance compensation he felt was contractually due. After arbitration hearings had commenced, the hearings were postponed for two months due to a medical situation afflicting Plaintiff's counsel. During the recess, Plaintiff formally requested pre-hearing and hearing third-party subpoenas directed at Defendant's current employer. The tribunal denied the issuance of the subpoenas. After the arbitration hearings resumed, the tribunal found Defendant was entitled to compensation pursuant to the terms of his employment agreement dealing with his termination without cause. The tribunal also found Defendant was entitled to pre-award interest. Plaintiff subsequently sought vacatur of the award, which the trial court denied. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the arbitration tribunal did not engage in misconduct by denying the issuance of the pre-hearing and hearing subpoenas; and (2) the tribunal did not exceed its authority in awarding pre-award interest to Defendant. View "Doral Fin. Corp. v. Garcia-Velez" on Justia Law
In re Mortgage Foreclosure Cases
Plaintiffs in this consolidated interlocutory appeal were defaulted mortgagors of Rhode Island real estate. Defendants were the corresponding mortgagees, Plaintiffs' agents or assignees, who allegedly held Rhode Island mortgagees' legal titles and asserted the right to foreclosure for default on mortgage terms. Plaintiffs brought this action alleging that the ostensible assignments of their mortgagees' legal titles were invalid, leaving the assignees without the right to foreclose. The district court imposed a stay in the nature of a preliminary injunction against foreclosure and possessory proceedings and appointed a special master to mediate the claims. Defendants appealed and filed a mandamus petition, claiming that the district court erred in failing to provide notice and hearing before issuing the stay and in failing to set limits of time and cost when referring the mortgagors' cases to the special master. The First Circuit Court of Appeals remanded with instructions to hold a prompt hearing with reasonable notice on the question of whether the injunction should be continued and to establish specific limits of time and expense if the reference for mediation was to remain in effect. View "In re Mortgage Foreclosure Cases" on Justia Law
Bacardi Int’l Ltd. v. V. Suarez & Co.
This federal case sought confirmation of an arbitration award made at the first, non-liability stage of arbitration as to a contract, and which was filed approximately one month after the arbitral opponents had filed a petition in the Puerto Rico Court of First Instance to vacate the same award. The underlying arbitration resulted from the non-renewal of a sub-distribution agreement between V. Suarez & Co. (VSC) and Bacardi Caribbean Corporation (BCC). The federal district court dismissed the case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, finding that an absent party, Bacardi Corporation (BC), was an indispensable party whose joinder would destroy complete diversity. The First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the federal district court engaged in an incomplete Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a) analysis, its conclusions under Rule 19 were wrong, and therefore, the proceeding should not have been dismissed for lack of jurisdiction; and (2) the federal court should stay its hand where the Court of First Instance confirmed the award and that decision had been pending on appeal in the court of appeals since August 22, 2012. Remanded. View "Bacardi Int'l Ltd. v. V. Suarez & Co." on Justia Law
Awuah v. Coverall N.A., Inc.
This appeal involved litigation between Coverall North America, Inc. and its franchisees. Proceeding under federal diversity jurisdiction, the franchisees asserted a variety of state-law claims against Coverall. Which of the various plaintiffs were subject to the arbitration provisions of the Franchise Agreement was at issue in this appeal. Appellees were a subgroup of Plaintiffs who became Coverall franchisees by signing consent to transfer agreements, which by reference incorporated under franchise agreements that contained arbitration clauses. The district court determined that Appellees did not have to arbitrate their claims against Coverall because they did not have adequate notice of the arbitration clauses contained in the franchise agreements. The First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the district court erred because (1) Massachusetts law, which governed this dispute, did not impose any such special notice requirement upon these commercial contractual provisions; and (2) in any event, any special notice requirement would be preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act. View "Awuah v. Coverall N.A., Inc. " on Justia Law