Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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Plaintiff filed suit against Tri Marine in Washington state court, seeking to recover additional expenses for a knee injury he experienced as a deck hand on one of Tri Marine's vessels. Tri Marine then removed the case to federal court and moved to confirm an order issued by an arbitrator in the Philippines as a foreign arbitral award. The district court denied plaintiff's motion to remand, confirmed the order, and dismissed the action. The Ninth Circuit held that the parties' free-floating settlement agreement and order did not transform into an arbitral award simply because the parties convened with an arbitrator. The panel evaluated the award by looking to its essence and found several unique aspects of these proceedings that lead it to concluded that the order was not an arbitral award. In this case, there was no outstanding dispute to arbitrate by the time plaintiff and Tri Marine sat down with the arbitrator as the parties had already reached a settlement; the purported arbitration in no way followed the parties' prior agreements to arbitrate; and the procedure here deviated completely from typical Philippine procedures. The panel reversed in part and vacated in part, remanding for the district court to assess jurisdiction under the Convention Act and venue, as well as any defenses. View "Castro v. Tri Marine Fish Co." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision vacating an arbitration award to Aspic, in an action seeking to resolve how much money ECC owed Aspic after ECC terminated for convenience two subcontracts it had awarded to Aspic. The panel held that the arbitrator exceeded his authority and failed to draw the essence of the award from the subcontracts. In this case, the arbitrator did not base his conclusion upon Aspic and ECC's actual past procedures, but upon his rationalization that to enforce the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clauses on Aspic would be unjust. The panel held that the award disregarded specific provisions of the plain text in an effort to prevent what the arbitrator deemed an unfair result, and therefore such an award was irrational. View "Aspic Engineering and Construction Co. v. ECC Centcom Constructors LLC" on Justia Law

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Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(a) governs how to calculate the Federal Arbitration Act's three-month filing deadline. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a petition to vacate an arbitral award because the petition was filed one day late. The panel clarified how to perform the Rule 6(a) calculation and held that the petition to vacate was untimely. View "Stevens v. Jiffy Lube International" on Justia Law

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The union petitioned the district court to vacate an arbitration award under section 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act, and Mirage filed a cross-petition seeking confirmation of the award. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's decision affirming the award, holding that the arbitrator's conclusion that the grievance was not arbitrable simply misunderstood the arbitrability inquiry. In this case, the arbitrator concluded that the union's exclusive remedy to recover the claimed benefits was against BB King's. Whatever the soundness of that conclusion, the panel reasoned that it plainly had nothing to do with substantive arbitrability, which, concerned only whether the dispute falls within the scope of the parties' arbitration agreement. Furthermore, the union's assent could not be inferred from its failure to call a halt to the arbitration proceedings and seek judicial resolution of the arbitrability. View "Local Joint Executive Board of Las Vegas v. Mirage Casino-Hotel, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit withdrew its prior opinion and filed the following opinion. The panel affirmed the district court's order affirming an arbitration award for the union. The panel held that the arbitrator was acting within his authority when he crafted a remedy to cure the parties' mutual mistake. In this case, the arbitration award drew its essence from the collective bargaining agreement and the arbitrator's award did not violate public policy. View "ASARCO, LLC v. United Steel, Paper and Forestry" on Justia Law

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In these related appeals brought under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21), at issue was whether the district court properly compelled arbitration of plaintiff's claims for whistleblowing retaliation. The Ninth Circuit affirmed as to the retaliation claim against plaintiff's employer, American Airlines, holding that the Airline did not waive its right to arbitrate by waiting to move to compel until after an agency investigation into its conduct was complete, nor was there reason to believe private AIR21 retaliation claims were inherently nonarbitrable. The panel reversed as to the retaliation claim against the Union, holding that the Union was not a party to the arbitration provision at issue in these cases and was not otherwise entitled to enforce the provision. View "American Airlines, Inc. v. Mawhinney" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, current and former Uber drivers, filed putative class actions alleging that Uber violated various federal and state statutes by, among other things, misclassifying drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. The Ninth Circuit previously considered and reversed the district court's orders denying Uber's motions to compel arbitration in Mohamed v. Uber Technologies, Inc., 848 F.3d 1201, 1206 (9th Cir. 2016). In this case, the panel rejected plaintiffs' additional arguments as to why the arbitration agreements were unenforceable. Because the class certification by the district court was premised on the district court's determination that the arbitration agreements were unenforceable, the panel reversed class certification. The panel also held that the Rule 23(d) orders were based on the district court’s denial of the motions to compel arbitration and its granting of class certification. Because these decisions must be reversed, there was no longer a basis for the district court's restrictions on Uber's communication with class and putative class members. Therefore, these orders were moot and the panel reversed. View "O'Connor v. Uber" on Justia Law

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A defendant that timely asserts that the district court lacks personal jurisdiction and litigates the issue to an adverse decision from the district court does not waive the personal jurisdiction defense by vigorously litigating defenses to the merits, including by asserting counterclaims against other parties. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment compelling arbitration of contract claims and held that the Bank was entitled to litigate its defenses and counterclaims in a related matter between similar parties without waiving the issue of personal jurisdiction, because the Bank had timely asserted the personal jurisdiction defense and received an adverse ruling (that jurisdiction was proper) from the district court. The panel remanded for dismissal based on lack of personal jurisdiction. View "InfoSpan, Inc. v. Emirates NBD Bank PSJC" on Justia Law

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Current and former employees of the University of Southern California may not be compelled to arbitrate their collective claims for breach of fiduciary responsibility against USC in an action under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of USC's motion to compel arbitration of claims for breach of fiduciary duty in the administration of two ERISA plans. The panel held that the district court properly denied USC's motion to compel arbitration where the claims asserted on behalf of the Plans in this case fell outside the scope of the arbitration clauses in individual employees' general employment contracts. View "Munro v. University of Southern California" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order affirming an arbitration award for the union. ASARCO argued that the award was invalid because the arbitrator reformed the Basic Labor Agreement (BLA) between the union and ASARCO in contravention of a no-add provision in that agreement. The district court affirmed the award, holding that ASARCO properly preserved its objection to the arbitrator's jurisdiction, but the arbitrator was authorized to reform the BLA, despite the no-add provision, based on a finding of mutual mistake. The panel affirmed, holding that the arbitrator was acting within his authority when he crafted a remedy to cure the parties' mutual mistake. Even if ASARCO did not waive its right to contest the arbitrator's jurisdiction, which it did, the panel deferred to the arbitrator's judgment. View "ASARCO, LLC v. United Steel, Paper and Forestry" on Justia Law