Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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The City filed suit against Baseline, alleging contract, negligence and professional malpractice, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation. The City's claims stemmed from a contract with Baseline, in which Baseline would assist with the permitting, design, and construction of a water treatment plant for the City. The Eighth Circuit held that, to the extent an arbitration provision was like a forum-selection clause, the motion seeking to compel arbitration was not properly construed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3); just as a forum selection clause has no bearing on the issue of whether venue was wrong or improper, an arbitration agreement has no relevance to the question of whether a given case satisfied constitutional or statutory definitions of jurisdiction; contrary to Baseline's contention, the July 2009 Contract's arbitration clause did not strip the federal courts of jurisdiction; and therefore the district court erred in construing the motion as a Rule 12(b)(1) challenge to subject matter jurisdiction. The court agreed with the City that Baseline's motion was properly analyzed under either Rule 12(b)(6) or Rule 56. Under both rules, the summary judgment standard applied. The court reversed and remanded for summary judgment proceedings in the district court. View "City of Benkelman, NE v. Baseline Engineering Corp." on Justia Law

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A court must decide whether an arbitration agreement authorizes class arbitration. The Eighth Circuit held that the question of class arbitration belongs with the courts as a substantive question of arbitrability; questions concerning "whether the parties have submitted a particular dispute to arbitration" presumptively lie with the court; parties to an agreement may nonetheless commit the question to an arbitrator; and when dealing with class arbitration, the court sought clear and unmistakable evidence of an agreement to arbitrate the particular question of class arbitration. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's order denying Catamaran's motion for summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. On remand, the district court shall determine whether such a "contractual basis" for class arbitration exists in the agreements between Catamaran and the pharmacies. View "Catamaran Corp. v. Towncrest Pharmacy" on Justia Law

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After Zetor filed suit against Ridgeway for trademark infringement, Ridgeway sought to enforce an arbitration clause in a prior settlement agreement between the parties. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's motion denying Ridgeway's motion to compel arbitration, holding that Zetor's claims have no relation to the terms of the settlement agreement; Zetor's claims rest on independent trademark and copyright grounds, which have no relation to the terms of the agreement and in no way depend on its existence; and the plain language of the contract did not apply to wholly independent claims arising several years later. View "Zetor North America, Inc. v. Ridgeway Enterprises" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's order compelling arbitration and dismissing plaintiff's case without prejudice where he alleged violations of minimum wage laws, as well as fraud. In this case, plaintiff signed a Volunteer Release, Waiver and Indemnification Agreement when he volunteered as a concession worker for a fundraiser. The court held that the agreement was not unconscionable under Missouri law because the agreement was easy to understand, with no evidence that it was non-negotiable. Furthermore, the agreement did not lack consideration where the consideration was that plaintiff was giving up his right to sue in return for his opportunity to volunteer and DNCS's contribution to Washington University, something neither was legally bound to do. Finally, the underlying factual allegations were covered by the arbitration provision. View "Leonard v. Delaware North Companies Sport Service, Inc." on Justia Law