Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court determining that Appellant was barred from relitigating his argument that Plaintiffs should be compelled to arbitrate various tort claims, holding that the district court did not err in denying Appellant’s motion to compel arbitration. At issue in this procedurally complicated case was whether Appellant’s association with a certain law firm required that Plaintiffs’ various tort claims, including their claims of legal malpractice, be submitted to arbitration. After adopting a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation and applying principles of collateral estoppel derived from Rhode Island law, the district court denied Appellant’s motion to compel. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Appellant waived any claim of error regarding the magistrate judge’s analysis under Rhode Island collateral estoppel law. View "Patton v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court denying SPAR Group, Inc.’s motion to compel arbitration in this case brought by Paradise Hogan against SPAR Business Services, Inc. (SBS) and SPAR, holding that SPAR could not compel Hogan to arbitrate because SPAR was not a party to the agreement containing the arbitration clause. SPAR, a retail services provider, obtained the majority of its personnel from SBS, a staffing company. After SBS engaged Hogan as an independent contractor and assigned him to perform services for SPAR, Hogan and SBS entered into an independent contractor master agreement that contained an arbitration clause. Hogan later sued SBS and SPAR, and both defendants sought to compel arbitration. The district court compelled arbitration as to Hogan’s claims against SBS but denied the motion to compel arbitration as to SPAR. SPAR appealed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there was no legal basis to compel Hogan to arbitration where the clear terms of the agreement showed that Hogan did not consent to arbitrate his claims against SPAR. View "Hogan v. SPAR Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court finding that an arbitration agreement between the parties in this case was enforceable, granting AT&T Mobility Puerto Rico, Inc.’s (AT&T) motion to compel arbitration and dismissing Nereida Rivera-Colon’s (Rivera) suit, holding that Rivera manifested her intent to accept the agreement to arbitrate legal grievances as per Puerto Rico law. Rivera filed suit against AT&T, her former employer, alleging age discrimination and wrongful termination. AT&T entered a special appearance and moved to stay the proceedings and compel arbitration. In response, Rivera argued that there was no valid arbitration agreement. The district court held that the arbitration agreement was enforceable and granted the motion to compel arbitration. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that, under Puerto Rico law, Rivera was bound by the arbitration agreement because she failed to opt out of the agreement. View "Rivera-Colon v. AT&T Mobility Puerto Rico, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district judge’s order sending Appellant’s case to arbitration, holding that the arbitration agreement between the parties was enforceable and did not fail for lack of consideration or unconscionability. Appellant and his employer entered into an agreement outlining the terms for Appellant’s continued at-will employment, which included an arbitration agreement. After Appellant was fired, Appellant filed this federal court lawsuit against Appellees alleging that his discharged violated several federal and state laws. Appellees moved to dismiss the complaint and compel arbitration. In response, Appellant argued that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable for lack of consideration and that the agreement was unconscionable and thus, unenforceable. The district court granted Appellees’ motion, concluding that a valid and enforceable arbitration agreement existed between the parties. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that both Appellant’s consideration and unconscionability arguments failed. View "Britto v. Prospect CharterCare SJHSRI, LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the decision of the district court denying Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint and compel arbitration based on the parties’ signed arbitration agreement, holding that, contrary to the conclusion of the district court, Defendants’ offer of continued at-will employment was valid consideration for the agreement. Plaintiff’s complaint alleged that Defendants fired him in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act and the Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case and compel arbitration. The district court denied the motion, concluding that the agreement failed for lack of consideration. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) the agreement was supported by adequate consideration; and (2) Plaintiff’s motion to supplement the record is denied. The Court remanded the case with instructions to grant Defendants’ motion to dismiss and compel arbitration. View "Conduragis v. Prospect CharterCARE, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this case alleging several violations of federal and state discrimination laws the First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court denying Defendant’s motion to stay the proceedings in district court and compel arbitration, holding that the contract to arbitration in between the parties was unenforceable. Plaintiffs - several individuals and the National Federation of the Blind - filed a complaint alleging that Defendant - the Container Store, Inc. - failed to utilize tactile keypads on its point-of-sale devices in its stores that could independently be used by customers who are blind in violation of federal and state discrimination laws. Defendant moved to compel arbitration, citing an arbitration provision in the terms and conditions of a loyalty program of which the individual plaintiffs were members. The district court denied the motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) based upon the lack of evidence that the in-store plaintiffs had any knowledge that arbitration terms applied to their enrollment in the loyalty program, Defendant failed to establish that an agreement to arbitrate was consummated between it and three of the four individual plaintiffs; and (2) the district court did not err in finding that the loyalty program agreement was illusory and therefore void. View "National Federation of the Blind v. Container Store, Inc." on Justia Law

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The district court erred in granting Defendant’s motion to dismiss, based on an arbitration provision, Plaintiff’s claims that Defendant violated various articles of the Puerto Rico Civil Code and federal copyright and trademark laws. This suit stemmed from a songwriting contest held in Puerto Rico in 2014. As a contestant, Plaintiff agreed to the terms of the contest’s rules, which included an arbitration provision. The provision compelled the submission to arbitration of those claims that “aris[e] in connection with, touch upon or relat[e] to” those rules. The district court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) based on that arbitration provision. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the arbitration provision did not reveal that the parties to it intended for Defendant, a third party, to benefit from it with the requisite clarity. View "Cortes-Ramos v. Martin-Morales" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the district court’s grant of Uber Technologies, Inc.’s motion to compel arbitration in this putative class action brought by users of Uber’s ride-sharing service in the Boston area, concluding that Uber’s mandatory arbitration clause found in an online contract was unenforceable. In their complaint, Plaintiffs alleged that Uber violated a Massachusetts consumer-protection statute by knowingly imposing fictitious or inflated fees. Uber moved to compel arbitration based on its terms and conditions (the agreement), which contained an arbitration clause and was available to Uber App users during the registration process. The district court granted the motion and dismissed the case. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) Plaintiffs were not reasonably notified of the terms of the agreement and consequently did not provide their unambiguous assent to those terms; and (2) therefore, Uber failed to carry its burden on its motion to compel arbitration. View "Cullinane v. Uber Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to compel arbitration in connection with this case brought by Plaintiff alleging various wage-and-hour claims. Defendant’s motion to compel arbitration was based on an agreement between Defendant and a vendor affiliated with Defendant from whom Plaintiff received his compensation. The district court concluded that Plaintiff should not be compelled to arbitrate because he never signed the agreement containing the arbitration clause and had no idea that the agreement even existed. Defendant appealed, arguing that Plaintiff should be compelled to arbitrate under federal common law principles of contract and agency. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Defendant’s arguments on appeal were without merit. View "Ouadani v. TF Final Mile LLC" on Justia Law

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A final determination of liability but not damages in arbitration can satisfy the final requirement of Article V(1)(e) of the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards when the parties have agreed to submit the issue of liability to the arbitrator for a distinct determination prior to a separate proceeding to assess damages. At issue in this appeal was the district court’s judicial recognition of an English arbitrator’s determination of joint contract liability against the seller and the renovator of a building. The parties agreed to bifurcate litigation of the liability and damages issues. Accordingly, the district court treated the liability judgment, which was decided before the damages issues, as final and thus entitled to judicial recognition. Specifically, the district court held the contractor for the renovation work bound as a party to the agreement providing for arbitration of disputes. The renovator and contractor appealed, claiming that the arbitrator’s judgment of liability in the bifurcated arbitration proceeding lacked the finality required for judicial confirmation of a foreign arbitral award under 9 U.S.C. 207. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the arbitrator’s liability judgment was final in this instance and that the contractor could indeed be subjected to arbitration. View "University of Notre Dame (USA) in England v. TJAC Waterloo, LLC" on Justia Law