Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
WILLIAM FORREST, ET AL V. KEITH SPIZZIRRI, ET AL
Plaintiff delivery drivers sued their employer, an ondemand delivery service, alleging violation of various state and federal employment laws. The parties agreed that all claims are subject to mandatory arbitration. Accordingly, the district court granted Intelliserve’s motion to compel arbitration, but also dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice. Plaintiffs argue that the district court should have stayed the action pending arbitration rather than dismissing it. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order granting Defendants’ motion to compel arbitration of all claims in an employment law action and dismissing the action without prejudice, rather than staying the action pending arbitration. The panel held that, although the plain text of the Federal Arbitration Act appears to mandate a stay pending arbitration upon application of a party, binding Ninth Circuit precedent establishes that district courts may dismiss when, as here, all claims are subject to arbitration. The panel concluded that this precedent was not abrogated by Badgerow v. Walters, 142 S. Ct. 1310 (2022). The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing rather than staying the action because the district court did not misstate the law, misconstrue the facts, or otherwise act arbitrarily. View "WILLIAM FORREST, ET AL V. KEITH SPIZZIRRI, ET AL" on Justia Law
CREDIT ONE BANK, N.A. V. MICHAEL HESTRIN
In March 2021, Riverside County, California District Attorney sued Credit One Bank in Riverside County Superior Court. The lawsuit (the “state action”) alleged that Credit One, a national bank, violated California law by employing a vendor to make extensive harassing debt collection phone calls to California residents. In a related federal case (the “federal action”), Credit One requested that the United States District Court for the Central District of California enjoin the state action on the ground that it was an unlawful exercise of “visitorial powers,” which the National Bank Act (“NBA”) and its associated regulations grant exclusively to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”). The district court ultimately decided to abstain under Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), in favor of the state action and dismissed the federal action. Credit One appealed that dismissal. The Ninth Circuit affirmed. The panel held that the district court correctly abstained because all four Younger factors were met. First, the state action qualified as an “ongoing” judicial proceeding because no proceedings of substance on the merits had taken place in the federal action. Second, the state court action implicated the important state interest of protecting consumers from predatory business practices. The panel held that the state court action was not an exercise of “visitorial powers,” and nothing in federal law prevents a district attorney from vindicating a state interest in consumer protection by suing a national bank. Third, Credit One had the ability to raise a federal defense under the National Bank Act. And fourth, the injunction Credit One sought would interfere with the state court proceeding. View "CREDIT ONE BANK, N.A. V. MICHAEL HESTRIN" on Justia Law
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE US, ET AL V. ROB BONTA, ET AL
The appeal raised the question of whether the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempts a state rule that discriminates against the formation of an arbitration agreement, even if that agreement is ultimately enforceable. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of a preliminary injunction in favor of Plaintiffs, a collection of trade associations and business groups (collectively, the Chamber of Commerce); the panel held that the FAA preempted AB 51, which was enacted to protect employees from “forced arbitration” by making it a criminal offense for an employer to require an existing employee or an applicant for employment to consent to arbitrate specified claims as a condition of employment. The panel held that AB 51’s penalty-based scheme to inhibit arbitration agreements before they are formed violates the “equal-treatment principle” inherent in the FAA and is the type of device or formula evincing hostility towards arbitration that the FAA was enacted to overcome. Because the FAA’s purpose is to further Congress’s policy of encouraging arbitration, and AB 51 stands as an obstacle to that purpose, AB 51 was therefore preempted. Because all provisions of AB 51 work together to burden the formation of arbitration agreements, the panel rejected California’s argument that the court could sever Section 433 of the California Labor Code under the severability clause in Section 432.6(i) and then uphold the balance of AB 51. View "CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE US, ET AL V. ROB BONTA, ET AL" on Justia Law
MITCH OBERSTEIN, ET AL V. LIVE NATION ENT’M’T, INC., ET AL
KEVIN JOHNSON V. WALMART INC.
JEFFREY REICHERT, ET AL V. RAPID INVESTMENTS, INC., ET AL
Plaintiff, who represents both a Washington and a national class, was incarcerated three times in the Kitsap County Jail. In each instance, the jail confiscated his cash at booking and returned it to him in the form of a prepaid debit card issued and serviced, respectively, by defendants Cache Valley Bank and Rapid Investments, Inc. (collectively, “Rapid”). Plaintiff was not provided an option to receive his money in any other form. Plaintiff claimed that Rapid’s debit cards carried fees that violated the EFTA and Washington state law. Rapid sought arbitration pursuant to an arbitration provision in a cardholder agreement. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order denying Defendants’ motion to compel arbitration. The panel wrote that Plaintiff’s retention of the release card, prior to use, cannot constitute assent to the agreement. The panel next considered whether Plaintiff’s subsequent use of the card to withdraw funds, while remaining silent, constituted assent. The panel held that because the money Plaintiff withdrew was his own, because the card he was issued came pre-activated and there was no other way to obtain immediate use of his own funds, and because Rapid structured its fees to begin deducting after three days regardless of use, Plaintiff’s decision to withdraw his own money cannot reasonably be understood to manifest assent to the contract. View "JEFFREY REICHERT, ET AL V. RAPID INVESTMENTS, INC., ET AL" on Justia Law
HAYDAY FARMS, INC., ET AL V. FEEDX HOLDINGS, INC.
FeeDx and HayDay Farms, Inc. entered into an Exclusive Distribution and Processing Agreement (EDPA). HayDay’s President also entered into a Consulting Agreement with FeeDx through Nippon Agricultural Holgins, Inc. The agreements provided for arbitration. The EDPA also made HayDay and Nippon jointly and severally liable. Neither HayDay nor FeeDx performed its side of the agreement. The parties entered a Settlement Agreement, which modified, but did not replace, the EDPA. After the Settlement Agreement did not see fruition, the parties went to arbitration. An arbitration tribunal made awards against FeeDx, and HayDay and Nippon petitioned to confirm the award. FeeDx sought to vacate the award, arguing that it exceeded the tribunal’s powers under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). The district court vacated $7 million from the award that reflected HayDay’s unpaid installments under the Settlement Agreement, but confirmed the rest of the award. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part, and reversed in part, the district court’s order confirming in part an arbitration award of more than $21 million entered against FeeDx. The panel held that arbitration awards that, as here, involve at least one foreign party are governed by the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (“Convention”), which Congress incorporated into federal law under the FAA. 9 U.S.C. Section 203 provides federal district courts subject matter jurisdiction over actions or proceedings falling under the Convention. The panel held that the parties’ failure to assert federal question jurisdiction did not deprive the district court of subject matter jurisdiction where HayDay and Nippon’s state court petition established Section 203 jurisdiction. View "HAYDAY FARMS, INC., ET AL V. FEEDX HOLDINGS, INC." on Justia Law
DAVID SUSKI, ET AL V. COINBASE, INC., ET AL
Coinbase, Inc., an online cryptocurrency exchange, appeals the district court’s order denying its motion to compel arbitration in a diversity suit brought by Plaintiff and three other Coinbase users (collectively “Plaintiffs”) who opted into Coinbase’s Dogecoin Sweepstakes in June 2021. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order denying Coinbase, Inc.’s motion to compel arbitration in a diversity suit. The panel held that the “scope” of an arbitration clause concerns how widely it applies, not whether it has been superseded by a subsequent agreement. The district court therefore correctly ruled that the issue of whether the forum selection clause in the Sweepstakes’ Official Rules superseded the arbitration clause in the User Agreement was not delegated to the arbitrator, but rather was for the court to decide. Further, the court wrote that the district court correctly ruled that because the User Agreement and the Official Rules conflict on the question whether the parties’ dispute must be resolved by an arbitrator or by a California court, the Official Rules’ forum selection clause supersedes the User Agreement’s arbitration clause. View "DAVID SUSKI, ET AL V. COINBASE, INC., ET AL" on Justia Law
GCIU-EMPLOYER RETIREMENT FUND, ET AL V. MNG ENTERPRISES, INC.
The Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980 imposes liability on employers who withdraw—partially or completely—from multiemployer pension funds. After a complete withdrawal, GCIU-Employer Retirement Fund’s (GCIU) actuary calculated MNG Enterprise’s (MNG) withdrawal liability using an interest rate published by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. On MNG’s challenge, an arbitrator found (1) that MNG could not be assessed partial withdrawal liability following a complete withdrawal, (2) that it had shown the interest rate used was not the best estimate of the plan’s experience, and (3) that GCIU properly included the newspapers’ contribution histories. The district court affirmed the arbitrator’s award, vacating and correcting only a typographical error on the interest rate. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court’s order affirming, except for a typographical error, an arbitrator’s award regarding the withdrawal liability. The panel held that the MPPAA directs the plan actuary to determine withdrawal liability based on “actuarial assumptions and methods which, in the aggregate, are reasonable (taking into account the experience of the plan and reasonable expectations) and which, in combination, offer the actuary’s best estimate of anticipated experience under the plan.” The panel held that the GCIU actuary’s use of the PBGC rate, without considering the “experience of the plan and reasonable expectations,” did not satisfy the “best estimate” standard. View "GCIU-EMPLOYER RETIREMENT FUND, ET AL V. MNG ENTERPRISES, INC." on Justia Law
STATE OF HAWAII V. USEDU
In an action brought by the State of Hawaii challenging the U.S. Department of the Army’s changes to the operation of its dining facilities at Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Army Airfield in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s conclusion that the Randolph-Shepard Act (“RSA”) did not apply to Dining Facility Attendant (“DFA”) contracts, and affirmed the district court’s conclusion that the RSA advance review provision applied to the reclassification of a Schofield Barracks contract. The panel held that the district court applied an incorrect standard of review to the RSA arbitration panel’s construction of 20 U.S.C. Section 107(a) when it deferred heavily to the arbitration panel’s interpretation. Because the RSA did not delegate interpretive authority to the arbitration panel, the panel reviewed de novo. The panel held that the term “operate” was ambiguous in Section 107(a). The panel held further that the statutory structure of the RSA supported a broad interpretation in favor of increased opportunities for blind vendors, and the implementing regulations swept even more broadly and counseled strongly in favor of applying the RSA to DFA contracts. The panel affirmed the district court’s conclusion that the RSA advance review requirement applied to the Army’s reclassification of Schofield Barracks’ dining facilities. View "STATE OF HAWAII V. USEDU" on Justia Law