Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals
In Re: Nortel Networks, Inc.
The multinational telecommunications firm Nortel declared bankruptcy in 2009 and various debtors comprising the Nortel brand auctioned their business lines and intellectual property, raising $7.5 billion. The debtors subsequently disputed whether they had agreed to allocate the auction funds through arbitration. The Bankruptcy Court held that they had not agreed to arbitrate their disputes about allocation. The Third Circuit affirmed: the contract at issue does not reflect the debtors’ intent to arbitrate disputes about the auction funds. The court declined to consider the Joint Administrators’ related challenge to the Bankruptcy Court’s decision to allocate the contested funds, noting that the Bankruptcy Court has not yet held the hearing to allocate the funds, so that review would be premature. View "In Re: Nortel Networks, Inc." on Justia Law
Delaware Coal. for Open Gov’t v. Strine
In 2009, to “preserve Delaware’s pre-eminence in offering cost-effective options for resolving disputes, particularly those involving commercial, corporate, and technology,” Delaware granted the Court of Chancery power to arbitrate business disputes. That Court then created an arbitration process as an alternative to trial for certain disputes, 10 DEL. CODE tit. 10, 349; Del. Ch. R. 96-98. To qualify for arbitration, at least one party must be a business entity formed or organized under Delaware law, and neither can be a consumer. Arbitration is limited to monetary disputes that involve an amount of at least one million dollars. The fee for filing is $12,000, and the arbitration costs $6,000 per day after the first day. Arbitration begins approximately 90 days after the petition is filed. The statute and rules bar public access. Arbitration petitions are confidential and are not included in the public docketing system. Attendance at proceedings is limited to parties and their representatives, and all materials and communications produced during the arbitration are protected from disclosure in judicial or administrative proceedings. The Coalition challenged the confidentiality provisions. The district court found that Delaware’s proceedings were essentially civil trials that must be open to the public, under the First Amendment. The Third Circuit affirmed. View "Delaware Coal. for Open Gov't v. Strine" on Justia Law
Guidotti v. Legal Helpers Debt Resolution, LLC
In 2009, Guidotti began attempting to settle approximately $19,550 in unsecured consumer debt without declaring bankruptcy. She entered into contracts with several “credit counseling agencies.” Dissatisfied with the results, Guidotti brought a putative class action against the companies, alleging that they conspired to provide unlicensed debt adjustment services in violation of the New Jersey Debt Adjustment and Credit Counseling Act, the New Jersey RICO statute, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, and various common law principles. With two of the companies, RMBT and Global, Guidotti opened a special bank account into which she automatically deposited a monthly amount. Those funds were then supposedly to be used to pay the various defendants for their debt negotiation services, with the remaining funds to be used to pay a negotiated settlement. The district court granted a motion to compel arbitration as to most of the defendants, but denied the motion as to RMBT and Global, finding that there had been no meeting of the minds on an agreement to arbitrate. The Third Circuit vacated, finding the record insufficient to prove that there was no genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the two companies and Guidotti agreed to arbitrate. View "Guidotti v. Legal Helpers Debt Resolution, LLC" on Justia Law
Freeman v. Pittsburgh Glass Works, LLC
Freeman worked at PPG until his firing in 2008; PGW subsequently assumed PPG’s liabilities. PPG maintains a 40 percent interest in PGW. After losing his job, Freeman, age 60, sued PGW under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. 621. The parties entered a binding arbitration agreement, listing three potential arbitrators. Lally-Green, a law school teacher, formerly a state judge, appeared at the top of both lists. Lally-Green acknowledged that she “knew some people at PPG” and had taught a seminar with a PPG attorney. The parties proceeded with Lally-Green as their arbitrator. The proceeding was fair and thorough. Lally-Green concluded that Freeman lost his job because he “had limited recent sales experience ... [and] received average performance ratings in a poorly performing region.” Three months later, Freeman moved to vacate the decision, claiming that Lally-Green had failed to disclose campaign contributions that she had received from PPG and its employees during her campaign for a seat on the state’s highest court. These contributions totaled $4,500. Lally-Green had raised $1.7 million during her unsuccessful campaign. The district court denied the motion. The Third Circuit affirmed, noting that the law firm representing Freeman had contributed $26,000 to Lally-Green’s campaign. View "Freeman v. Pittsburgh Glass Works, LLC" on Justia Law
In Re: Pharmacy Benefit Mgrs. Antitrust Litig.
AdvancePCS is a prescription benefits manager for plans sponsored by employers, unions, and others and is retained to achieve savings by negotiating discounts from drug manufacturers, providing mail order service, contracting with retail pharmacies, and electronic processing and paying of claims. Plaintiffs are retail pharmacies that entered into agreements with AdvancePCS that include an agreed reimbursement rate and an arbitration clause. In 2003, plaintiffs filed suit, asserting that AdvancePCS engaged in an unlawful conspiracy with plan sponsors to restrain competition in violation of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1; that AdvancePCS used the economic power of its sponsors to reduce the contractual amount it pays below levels prevailing in a competitive marketplace; and that the agreements impose other limitations. For almost a year, AdvancePCS litigated without mentioning arbitration. After denial of a motion to dismiss and reconsideration, AdvancePCS filed an answer with affirmative defenses, then sought to compel arbitration. The court granted the motion. Plaintiffs did not initiate arbitration, but sought dismiss pending appeal. A different judge vacated the order compelling arbitration. The Third Circuit remanded with directions to reinstate the order compelling arbitration. On remand, a third judge granted dismissal. The Third Circuit ruled in favor of plaintiffs, holding that AdvancePCS waived its right to arbitrate. View "In Re: Pharmacy Benefit Mgrs. Antitrust Litig." on Justia Law
Control Screening LLC v. Technological Application & Prod. Co.
CS manufactures and sells X-ray and metal detection devices for use in public facilities around the world. Tecapro is a private, state-owned company that was formed by the Vietnamese government to advanced technologies into the Vietnamese market. In 2010, Tecapro purchased 28 customized AutoClear X-ray machines from CS for $1,021,156. The contract provides that disputes shall be settled at International Arbitration Center of European countries for claim in the suing party’s country under the rule of the Center. Tecapro initiated arbitration proceedings in Belgium in November 2010. In December 2010, CS notified Tecapro of its intention to commence arbitration proceedings in New Jersey. In January 2011, CS filed its petition to compel arbitration in New Jersey and enjoin Tecapro from proceeding with arbitration in Belgium. The district court concluded that it had subject matter jurisdiction under the U.N.Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, that it had personal jurisdiction over Tecapro, and that Tecapro could have sought to arbitrate in Vietnam and CS in New Jersey. The latter is what happened, so “the arbitration shall proceed in New Jersey.” After determining that it had jurisdiction under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 1, the Third Circuit affirmed. View "Control Screening LLC v. Technological Application & Prod. Co." on Justia Law
Sutter v. Oxford Health Plans, L.L.C.
By their 1998 Primary Care Physician Agreement, the parties agreed that Dr. Sutter would provide primary care health services to members of Oxford's managed care network in exchange for predetermined reimbursement. They agreed to arbitrate any disputes. A dispute arose when Sutter accused Oxford of improperly denying, underpaying, and delaying reimbursement of physicians' claims. Sutter filed a complaint on behalf of himself and a class of health care providers, alleging breach of contract and other violations of New Jersey law. The state court granted Oxford’s motion to compel arbitration. The arbitrator determined that the agreement allowed for class arbitration. The arbitrator entered a Partial Final Class Determination Award. Oxford sought to vacate, arguing that the arbitrator disregarded the law by ordering class arbitration. The district court denied Oxford's motion and the Sixth Circuit affirmed. Arbitration proceeded on a classwide basis. Oxford later moved to vacated, based on the 2010 Supreme Court decision, Stolt-Nielsen S.A. v. AnimalFeeds International Corp. The district court denied the motion. The Third Circuit affirmed. The arbitrator endeavored to interpret the parties' agreement within the bounds of the law and his interpretation was not irrational. Nothing more is required under the Federal Arbitration Act. View "Sutter v. Oxford Health Plans, L.L.C." on Justia Law
Quilloin v. Tenet Healthsystem Philadelphia, Inc.
When plaintiff, a nurse, was hired in 2006 and rehired in 2009, she signed the hospital's forms, including an agreement to submit all disputes to binding arbitration. She acknowledged receipt of a brochure that outlines an internal grievance process culminating in arbitration, as well as the parameters of the arbitration agreement itself, but does not state that claims regarding the validity of the arbitration agreement itself must be arbitrated. In 2009 plaintiff filed a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 201-19, and state law. The district court denied a motion to compel arbitration. The Third Circuit reversed, finding no genuine disputes of material fact that might render the arbitration agreement unconscionable and unenforceable. View "Quilloin v. Tenet Healthsystem Philadelphia, Inc." on Justia Law
Khan v. Dell, Inc.
Plaintiff bought a computer, using the Dell website, and clicked his agreement to Dell's terms, which included an arbitration clause. Plaintiff filed a putative class action, based on claimed design defects with the computer. At the time, the National Arbitration Forum, which was referenced in those terms as the arbital forum, was prohibited, by consent decree, from conducting arbitration. The district court denied Dell's motion to compel arbitration. The Third Circuit vacated. The contract language does not indicate unambiguous intent not to arbitrate disputes if NAF is unavailable. Section 5 of the Federal Arbitration Act creates a presumption favoring arbitration and requires a court to address such unavailability by appointing a substitute arbitrator, 9 U.S.C. 5. View "Khan v. Dell, Inc." on Justia Law
Litman v. Cellco Partnership
This case was remanded from the U.S. Supreme Court. Appellants Keith Litman and Robert Watchel asked the Third Circuit to reverse a district court order that compelled them to arbitrate their contract dispute with Cellco Partnership (d/b/a Verizon Wireless) on an individual rather than class-wide basis. In an unpublished opinion, the Third Circuit vacated the district court order because a recent Third Circuit precedent bound the Court to conclude that class arbitration should have been available to Appellants. Verizon responded by seeking a stay of the mandate and seeking review by the Supreme Court. Having reviewed the supplemental briefing and applicable legal authority, the Third Circuit concluded that the applicable law at issue that required the availability of classwide arbitration created a scheme inconsistent with the Federal Arbitration Act. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the district court’s order compelling individual arbitration in accordance with the terms of the individual Appellants’ contracts with Verizon. View "Litman v. Cellco Partnership" on Justia Law