Articles Posted in U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Plaintiff entered into a two-year wireless service agreement with First Cellular in 2005. The company was acquired by defendant, which began dismantling and reorganizing. Plaintiff initially agreed to defendant's terms, but later filed a class action, claiming breach of contract for rendering his phone and equipment useless and refusing to honor the features and prices of the First Cellular Agreement. He also claimed deceptive rade practices under Illinois law and civil conspiracy. The district court denied defendant's motion to compel arbitration. The Seventh Circuit reversed, finding that defendant's arbitration clause applies because part of the claims are based on services and products received under defendant's contract. Defendant's contract unambiguously covers any dispute "arising out of" or "relating to the services and equipment." If a contract provides for arbitration of some issues, any doubt concerning the scope of the arbitration clause is resolved in favor of arbitration as a matter of federal law, 9 U.S.C. 2. View "Gore v. Alltel Comm'cns, LLC" on Justia Law

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Defendant is a captive insurer owned by plaintiff plans across the nation. In 2003 healthcare providers filed class action suits in Florida against all of those plans. Twelve plans, which had errors-and-omissions insurance from defendant, asked it to assume the defense and indemnify. Defendant declined, and the plans demanded arbitration. Acting under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 5, the district court held that the arbitrators could determine whether arbitration of a class action or consolidated arbitration were authorized by contract and appointed a third arbitrator. The court dismissed the appeal of the court's first ruling for lack of jurisdiction and affirmed the appointment. If defendant wanted a judge to decide whether the plans' demands should be arbitrated jointly or separately, it should have refused to appoint an arbitrator. Both sides appointed arbitrators, however, and the proceeding got under way. Nothing in the Federal Arbitration Act authorizes anticipatory review of the arbitrators' anticipated decisions on procedural questions. View "Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA, Inc. v. BCS Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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The parties, involved in patent infringement cases, agreed to a settlement that required dismissal of their lawsuits and included an arbitration provision and request that a bank subordinate its interests in defendant's patents to the settlement. Defendant stated that the bank had agreed; the parties executed the agreement and dismissed their suits. When plaintiff became aware that the bank would not cooperate, defendant demanded arbitration, but plaintiff went to court to vacate dismissal of its claims and seek compliance with the agreement. The court dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Before the Federal Circuit ruled on an appeal, the parties participated in mediation. Plaintiff took a voluntary dismissal, then filed new claims, including claims against defendant's bank and attorneys, claiming that defendant and its attorneys lied or the bank reneged on its commitment. The district court held that defendant had waived its right to arbitrate and that the bank and attorneys, not parties to the settlement, could not be compelled to arbitrate. The Seventh Circuit reversed in part, holding that defendant's participation in earlier litigation did not amount to waiver under the Federal Arbitration Act. 9 U.S.C. 1, and vacated with respect to the bank and attorneys. Plaintiff may want to arbitrate with those parties if it must arbitrate with defendant. View "Kawasaki Heavy Indus., Ltd. v. Bombardier Recreational Prods., Inc.l" on Justia Law

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In 1992 two companies began a joint venture to develop peptide compounds. The agreement provides that inventions created by joint efforts are jointly owned, but inventions attributable to a single party are owned by that party and that disputes will be arbitrated. In court-ordered arbitration, a panel decided that a certain group of patents are jointly owned, but that another group is owned by defendant. The district court confirmed those rulings, but vacated a ruling in defendant's favor on foreign patents. Holding that appeal is authorized by 9 U.S.C. 16(a)(1)(E), and that the dispute does not concern patent law, but is a contract issue, the Seventh Circuit reversed. The Federal Arbitration Act authorizes a court to vacate an award for any of four reasons, 9 U.S.C. 10(a); a conclusion that the arbitrators disregarded the law by failing to discuss the foreign patents separately from the domestic patents did not justify vacating the award. The judge mistakenly inferred from silence that the arbitrators must have had an extra-contractual ground; the arbitrators had no reason to discuss the foreign patents separately from the domestic patents. View "Affymax, Inc. v. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc." on Justia Law

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After two years of contributing to a multiemployer pension plan established under a collective bargaining agreement, the company closed the covered facility, triggering withdrawal liability. The union notified the company of its liability under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. 1001, as amended by the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980, 29 U.S.C. 1301-1461, and set a 20-year schedule requiring payment of $652 per month. The union sent another letter, months later, saying that it had miscalculated monthly payments, but not the underlying withdrawal liability, and advised the company to increase monthly payments to $978. The company timely paid the original amount, but refused to pay the revised sum. The company requested arbitration, but after a finding that it was not required to pay the higher amount in the interim, withdrew. The district court dismissed the union's suit based on the calculation. The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded without reaching the statutory interpretation issue, based on failure to exhaust administrative remedies. A plan may correct perceived errors in calculation and revise an assessment as long as the employer is not prejudiced. At that point the exhaustion provisions of the MPPAA apply to the revised assessment as they would to the original. View "Nat'l Shopmen Pension Fund v. DISA Indus., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff makes glucose monitors and other diabetes-related products that incorporate software written by defendant, under a contract that entitles it to use the software for two years after the contractâs initial term, 2006-2010, and any extension. It also gives plaintiff a right of first refusal should defendant agree to sell its stock or assets to one of plaintiffâs competitors "during the term of this Agreement." Defendant would not extend the contract after the original expiration date. Plaintiff learned that investors in defendant were negotiating to sell stock to a company that plaintiff considers a competitor. Defendant asserted that, because the transaction would not close until 2011, the right of first refusal did not apply. Plaintiff sought an injunction pending arbitration. Based on concerns about irreparable harm to each party, the district court entered an injunction to allow the sale to proceed, subject to a requirement that plaintiff be allowed to use the software through 2012; the injunction expires when the arbitrator renders a decision. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, modifying to add conditions to ensure that defendant remains a separate firm so that the transaction can be undone if the arbitrator rules in plaintiffâs favor.

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Residents of Missouri contracted with a Texas franchisor to operate tax preparation franchises near St. Louis. The contract contained an arbitration clause and identified Texas as the forum for both arbitration and litigation. When the businesses failed, the franchisees sued the Texas company in Illinois. The district court dismissed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The court noted that the parties had not briefed Texas law, but that the Illinois Franchise Act, 815 ILCS 705/4, allows out-of-state arbitration agreements, despite disallowing forum selection; the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 1, strongly favors agreements for arbitration. Even if the Texas company knowingly authorized a franchise in Illinois, the arbitration clause justified dismissal. The district court did not have jurisdiction to order arbitration outside the district, but the issue was not waived. The court rejected claims of fraudulent inducement and unconscionability.