Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
McLaurin v. The Terminix International Co., LP
After an arbitrator awarded money damages in favor of plaintiffs and against Terminix, plaintiffs filed a motion to confirm with the district court. The district court ordered Terminix to respond, but Terminix opted to forego any substantive opposition to the motion and instead asserted what it believed was its procedural right to file a separate motion to vacate any time within three months. Terminix filed its motion to vacate after the district court's deadline to oppose confirmation and the district court granted the motion to confirm as substantively unopposed and struck the motion to vacate as untimely.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting the motion to confirm and concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it struck Terminix's later-filed motion and thereby declined to rule on its merits. The court recommended that, when faced with a motion to confirm filed within three months of an arbitration award, district courts enter a briefing schedule that sets simultaneous deadlines for the losing party to file an opposition to the motion to confirm, if any, and to file a motion to vacate, modify, or correct, if any. The court explained that this practice will prevent similar disputes from arising in the future. Finally, the court denied plaintiffs' motion for sanctions. View "McLaurin v. The Terminix International Co., LP" on Justia Law
Calderon v. Sixt Rent a Car, LLC
Plaintiff filed suit against Sixt on behalf of a putative class of Sixt customers, alleging that Sixt breached its own contract with him and violated two state consumer-protection statutes. In this case, plaintiff had used Orbitz.com to book a rental car from Sixt. When plaintiff picked up the rental car from Sixt, he signed an entirely separate agreement with Sixt which did not contain an arbitration provision.The Eleventh Circuit explained that a customer making an airline, hotel, or car-rental reservation on Orbitz.com agrees to a contract that includes an arbitration provision, and that provision requires the customer to arbitrate disputes related to, among other things, "any services or products provided." At issue is whether that phrase refers to services and products provided by Orbitz or by anyone.Reading the "any services or products provided" clause in the light of neighboring provisions and the larger contractual context—and applying a dose of common sense—the court concluded that it refers only to services and products provided by Orbitz. The court affirmed the district court's denial of Sixt's motion to compel arbitration because the underlying dispute does not relate to services or products provided by Orbitz. Rather, it relates only to those provided by Sixt, a company that does business through Orbitz. View "Calderon v. Sixt Rent a Car, LLC" on Justia Law
Hamrick v. Partsfleet, LLC
At issue in this appeal is whether (despite agreeing to arbitrate any dispute with their employer) final-mile delivery drivers—drivers who make local deliveries of goods and materials that have been shipped from out-of-state to a local warehouse—are in a "class of workers engaged in foreign and interstate commerce" and, thus, exempt under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) from having to arbitrate their Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claims. The district court concluded that they were exempt and refused to compel arbitration.The Eleventh Circuit concluded that the district court misapplied Hill v. Rent-A-Center, Inc., 398 F.3d 1286, 1290 (11th Cir. 2005), and wrongly determined that the exemption applied. The court reversed the part of the district court's order denying the employer's motion to compel arbitration under the FAA and remanded for the district court to determine whether the drivers are in a class of workers employed in the transportation industry and whether the class, in general, is actually engaged in foreign or interstate commerce. The court dismissed the part of the appeal challenging the district court's denial of the employer's motion to compel arbitration under state arbitration law based on lack of appellate jurisdiction. View "Hamrick v. Partsfleet, LLC" on Justia Law
Hearn v. Comcast Cable Communications, LLC
Plaintiff filed a putative class action against Comcast, alleging that it had violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Plaintiff claimed that when he called Comcast to inquire about pricing and services, a Comcast representative conducted a credit check and pulled his credit information without his permission.The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's denial of Comcast's motion to compel arbitration, finding that plaintiff's FCRA claim relates to the Subscriber Agreement because of: the FAA's liberal federal policy favoring arbitration agreements, the relevant provisions in the Subscriber Agreement applicable to plaintiff, and the fact that Comcast would not have access to plaintiff's personal information—and therefore could not have engaged in the allegedly tortious conduct—but for the pre-existing Agreement. The panel remanded for the district court to determine the merits of the parties' remaining arguments related to Comcast's motion to compel arbitration. View "Hearn v. Comcast Cable Communications, LLC" on Justia Law
O’Neal Constructors, LLC v. DRT America, LLC
The required service of a "notice of a motion to vacate" under 9 U.S.C. 12 is not accomplished by emailing to opposing counsel a "courtesy copy" of a memorandum in support of that motion where, as here, the party to be served did not expressly consent in writing to service by email.In this contract dispute, Excel demanded arbitration with O'Neal, and DRT participated in the arbitration as a third-party respondent. Because of DRT's subsequent refusal to pay the attorney's fees part of the arbitration award, O'Neal filed a complaint in Georgia state court seeking confirmation of the award. The case was then removed to federal court. In a separate case, DRT filed a motion in district court to vacate part of the arbitration award for the $650,090.49 in attorney's fees. That night, DRT's counsel emailed O'Neal's counsel what he called a "courtesy copy" of DRT's signed and dated 20-page memorandum in support of the motion to vacate. Both cases were consolidated and the district court denied DRT's motion to vacate the attorney's fees part of the arbitration and confirmed the arbitration award. The court concluded that the district court correctly held that DRT did not serve in a proper and timely way notice of its motion to vacate and, as a result, that motion was due to be denied and the arbitration award confirmed. The court affirmed the district court's order and judgment insofar as it confirmed the arbitration award and denied the motion to vacate. The court dismissed the appeal from the district court's order and judgment awarding post-arbitration attorney's fees. View "O'Neal Constructors, LLC v. DRT America, LLC" on Justia Law
Tracy v. Florida Atlantic University Board of Trustees
Plaintiff filed suit against the University and others alleging that the parties' collective bargaining agreements' (CBA) "Conflict of Interest/Outside Activities" policy was unconstitutionally vague, that his termination breached the CBA, and that the University had used his insubordination as a pretext for First Amendment retaliation. Plaintiff's action stemmed from the University's termination of plaintiff after he attracted national news media attention for publicly questioning whether the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting had in fact occurred.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's summary judgment rulings and its denial of plaintiff's post-trial motions for judgment as a matter of law and for a new trial. The court held that the district court correctly concluded that plaintiff's failure to exhaust the CBA's mandatory grievance-and-arbitration procedures barred his claim that the University breached the CBA by firing him. Although the court affirmed the district court on the constitutional claims, the court applied a different analysis. Without deciding the issue, the court assumed for the purposes of this appeal that plaintiff could constitutionally challenge the Policy on vagueness grounds. The court held that plaintiff's vagueness challenge failed on the merits, and his facial and as-applied First Amendment challenges to the Policy's reporting requirement failed. Furthermore, plaintiff's challenge to the Policy's conflict-of-interest provision failed on the merits. Because plaintiff's constitutional challenges failed, his declaratory judgment claim based on the same grounds also failed. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the Faculty Senate meeting transcript. View "Tracy v. Florida Atlantic University Board of Trustees" on Justia Law
Young v. Grand Canyon University, Inc.
The Eleventh Circuit held that section 685.300(i)(1) defines the term "borrower defense claim" to include—rather than exclude—breach-of-contract and misrepresentation claims—and, accordingly, that section 685.300(f) prohibits Grand Canyon from enforcing its pre-dispute arbitration agreement with respect to plaintiff's claims here. In this case, Grand Canyon urges a reading of section 685.300 that would not only (1) exclude bread-and-butter breach-of-contract and misrepresentation claims—the claims that complaining borrowers are most likely to bring—but also (2) include non-contract and non-misrepresentation claims only if reduced to judgment, thereby rendering that aspect of the borrower-defense-claim protection meaningless. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's decision to the contrary. View "Young v. Grand Canyon University, Inc." on Justia Law
Gherardi v. Citigroup Global Markets, Inc.
After plaintiff won a substantial arbitration award against his former employer, the employer sought vacatur in federal court. The district court agreed with the employer, Citi, that plaintiff had been an at-will employee and thus the arbitrators exceeded their powers by finding that he had been wrongfully terminated.The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's vacatur of the arbitration award, holding that plaintiff and Citi agreed to arbitrate all disputes about plaintiff's employment. The court stated that, under the Federal Arbitration Act, the merits of plaintiff's dispute were committed to the arbitrators and Citi does not get to start over in federal court because it identifies a possible legal error in arbitration. Therefore, the district court erred by substituting its own legal judgment for that of the arbitrators. View "Gherardi v. Citigroup Global Markets, Inc." on Justia Law
Lavigne v. Herbalife, Ltd.
Plaintiffs, aggrieved distributors, filed a putative class action alleging that Herbalife and the top distributors who manage the "Circle of Success" events violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by conducting the affairs of a racketeering enterprise and by conspiring to do so. The district court denied Herbalife's motion to compel arbitration of the aggrieved distributors' claims against the top distributors and denied the motion to transfer those claims to the Central District of California.The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court correctly denied the top distributors' motion to compel arbitration, because none of the top distributors is a party to any of the aggrieved distributors' agreements and thus they cannot invoke the agreements' arbitration clauses; the district court was correct to resolve the motion to compel arbitration instead of immediately sending it to an arbitrator; and the district court correctly declined to apply equitable estoppel to compel arbitration of the aggrieved distributors' claims against the top distributors. Finally, the court held that it is without jurisdiction to review whether the district court erred in denying the motion to transfer venue. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and dismissed in part. View "Lavigne v. Herbalife, Ltd." on Justia Law
EGI-VSR, LLC v. Juan Carlos Celestino Coderch Mitjans
Respondent appealed the district court's order confirming a $28 million international arbitration award in favor of EGI. EGI sought to enforce the Chilean award in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida by filing a petition to confirm the international arbitration award under the Federal Arbitration Act.The Eleventh Circuit agreed with the district court that service in Brazil was proper and that this arbitration award should be confirmed. The court held that the district court did not err in finding that considerations of international comity counseled against reviewing the Brazilian court's determination that respondent had been properly served in accordance with Brazilian law, especially since the Convention on Letters Rogatory commits jurisdiction of this issue to the courts of Brazil.However, the court vacated the district court's order and remanded with instructions to correct two errors that the district court committed in enforcing the award. In this case, the district court clearly erred in accepting EGI's calculations, which converted UF to pesos to U.S. dollars on January 23, 2012, rather than the proper conversion date under the breach day rule, January 13, 2012. Furthermore, instead of enforcing the Arbitration Award as requested by EGI, the district court's order should have required respondent to pay the purchase price set out in the Shareholders' Agreement and the Award and in exchange required EGI to tender its shares. View "EGI-VSR, LLC v. Juan Carlos Celestino Coderch Mitjans" on Justia Law