Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

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The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court correctly determined that the availability of class arbitration was a question of arbitrability, presumptively for the court to decide, because it was the kind of gateway question that determined the type of dispute that would be arbitrated. In this case, defendants sought to compel arbitration on a class basis with JPay, a Miami-based company that provides fee-for-service amenities in prisons in more than thirty states. The court held, however, that the language the parties used in their contract expressed their clear intent to overcome the default presumption and to arbitrate gateway questions of arbitrability, including the availability of class arbitration. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment to JPay, reversed the denial of defendants' motion to compel arbitration, and remanded for further proceedings. View "JPay, Inc. v. Kobel" on Justia Law

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At issue was two questions under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the Convention) regarding federal subject matter jurisdiction established in an arbitration agreement and whether the parties entered into an agreement under the meaning of the Convention to arbitrate their dispute. Plaintiff’s predecessor entered into contracts that contained arbitration clauses and included “subcontractors.” Defendant was listed as a subcontractor. Plaintiff and its insurers later filed suit, and the case was removed to federal district court. The district court denied Plaintiffs’ motion to remand and granted Defendant’s motions to compel and dismiss. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of the motion to remand but reversed and remanded the order compelling arbitration, holding (1) where jurisdiction is challenged on a motion to remand, the district court shall perform a limited inquiry to determine whether the suit “relates to” an arbitration agreement pursuant to the Convention under the factors articulated in Bautista v. Star Cruises, 396 F.3d 1289 (11th Cir. 2005); and (2) on a motion to compel arbitration, the district court must engage in a rigorous analysis of the Bautista factors to determine whether the parties entered into an agreement under the meaning of the Convention to arbitrate their dispute. View "Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC v. Converteam SAS" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was whether it was a judge or an arbitrator who must decide if the arbitration agreement between Spirit Airlines and members of its $9 Fare Club allows for arbitration of claims brought by a class of claimants. The Eleventh Circuit held that the agreement's choice of American Arbitration Association rules, standing alone, was clear and unmistakable evidence that Spirit intended that the arbitrator decide this question. Therefore, the district court was not permitted to rely on testimony from Spirit's vice president to explain the agreement's meaning, and was correct to reject the offer of that testimony. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Spirit Airlines, Inc. v. Maizes" on Justia Law

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Acosta challenged the district court's entry of a default judgment against them after they failed to pay their required arbitration fees in a dispute with a former employee who sought unpaid wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Eleventh Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that it found no basis in the Federal Arbitration Act, caselaw, or anywhere else to support a court's decision to enter a default judgment solely because a party defaulted in the underlying arbitration. Because the court concluded that the district court erred in entering a default judgment against Acosta based solely on Acosta's default in the underlying arbitration, the court did not reach the remaining arguments. View "Hernandez Hernandez v. Acosta Tractors Inc." on Justia Law

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Andromeda and Internaves entered into a shipping contract that unambiguously required the parties to submit their dispute to arbitration. At issue on appeal was where the parties agreed to arbitrate. The district court was unable to determine the site of arbitration and resorted to the statutory default forum, compelling arbitration in its own district. The court reversed and remanded with instructions to compel arbitration in London under English law. The court held that the parties' intention to arbitrate in London was discernible from the very terms they wrote into the contract and thus the parties provided for the forum, which the district court was obliged to recognize and uphold. View "Internaves de Mexico S.A. de C.V. v. Andromeda Steamship Corp." on Justia Law

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Fair notice at a relatively early stage of litigation was a primary factor in considering whether a party has acted consistently with its arbitration rights. In appeals stemming from class actions brought by bank customers, Wells Fargo challenged the district court's denial of its motion to compel arbitration with the unnamed plaintiffs comprising the classes. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court's finding that Wells Fargo waived its arbitration rights as against those unnamed plaintiffs was erroneous. In this case, Wells Fargo did not act inconsistently with its arbitration rights and thus did not waive those rights with its express reservation of its arbitration rights as to future plaintiffs in response to the district court's scheduling order. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's order. View "Gutierrez v. Wells Fargo Bank" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of RBC's motion to compel arbitration. Plaintiff held a checking account with RBC and filed suit alleging that RBC failed to properly warn him of possible overdrafts at points of sale when he used his debit card and impermissibly rearranged the order of debit-card transactions so as to process larger transactions before smaller transactions. The court found it unnecessary to address the questions of waiver or the district court's alternative holding. Rather, the court held that PNC failed to demonstrate the requisite meeting of the minds to support a finding that the parties agreed through the February 2013 amendment to arbitrate their then-pending litigation. View "Dasher v. RBC Bank (USA)" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's denial of KeyBank's motion to compel arbitration on grounds of unconscionability. The court looked to Ohio law to determine where plaintiff consented to arbitrate; plaintiff consented to the 1997 Agreement and its arbitration provision; plaintiff's argument that he did not assent to the revised version of the arbitration provision that appearred in the 2009 Agreement failed; and summary judgment was warranted in this case. The court also held that the district court erred in finding the 2009 Arbitration Provision unenforceable under applicable state law. The court remanded to the district court to compel arbitration. View "Johnson v. Keybank National Assoc." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court erred in denying Waffle House's motion to compel arbitration in a case where plaintiff claimed that Waffle House and others violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act. In this case, the arbitration agreement contained a broad, valid, and enforceable delegation provision that expressed the parties' clear and unmistakable intent to arbitrate gateway questions of arbitrability, including questions concerning the interpretation, applicability, enforceability, and formation of the agreement. The court rejected plaintiff's claims that the arbitration agreement improperly interfered with the district court's managerial authority over class actions or that the agreement amounted to an improper ex parte communication with a represented party. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded with instructions to stay the case pending arbitration. View "Jones v. Waffle House, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit held, in this international arbitration dispute, that questions of arbitral venue, even those arising in international arbitration, are presumptively for the arbitrator to decide. Because the arbitrator in this case arguably interpreted the arbitral-venue provision at issue, the court deferred to that interpretation. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's confirmation of the arbitral award finding venue proper in Atlanta and Profimex liable on OAD's defamation counterclaim. View "Bamberger Rosenheim, Ltd. v. OA Development, Inc." on Justia Law