Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order compelling arbitration pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act and dismissing a putative class action brought by plaintiff against MoneyLion, operator of a smartphone app offering financial services to its customers. Plaintiff alleged that MoneyLion violated California's Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law, and Consumers Legal Remedies Act when it refused to allow her to cancel her membership after she fell behind on her fees, deposits, and loan payments.The panel concluded that the district court correctly determined that the arbitration provision at issue was valid and enforceable because it allowed public injunctive relief and did not violate the McGill rule under California law. The panel explained that in California, litigants proceeding in individual lawsuits may request public injunctive relief without becoming private attorneys general. In this case, the arbitration agreement authorized the arbitrator to award all injunctive remedies available in an individual lawsuit under California law. View "DiCarlo v. MoneyLion, Inc." on Justia Law

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On remand from the Supreme Court in light of GE Energy Power Conversion France SAS v. Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC, 140 S. Ct. 1637 (2020), the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying defendant's motions to compel arbitration and to grant a stay pending arbitration.Rather than apply the law of India, the panel applied federal common law to the issue of whether defendant, a non-signatory to the partnership deed containing an arbitration provision, could compel plaintiffs to arbitrate. The panel applied Letizia v. Prudential Bache Securities, Inc., 802 F.2d 1185 (9th Cir. 1986), which remains good law, and concluded that federal law applied because the case involved federal claims and turned on the court's federal question jurisdiction. The panel held that equitable estoppel precludes a party from claiming the benefits of a contract while simultaneously attempting to avoid the burdens that contract imposes. In this case, the district court did not abuse its discretion in rejecting SS Mumbai's argument that SS Bangalore should be equitably estopped from avoiding arbitration. View "Setty v. Shrinivas Sugandhalaya LLP" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit held that plaintiff does not create appellate jurisdiction by voluntarily dismissing his claims with prejudice after being forced to arbitrate them. The panel dismissed plaintiff's appeal of the district court's denial of his motions to compel arbitration and reconsideration, and from his own voluntary dismissal. The panel concluded that it lacked jurisdiction over plaintiff's putative class action. In doing so, the panel held that Omstead v. Dell, Inc., 594 F.3d 1081 (9th Cir. 2010), which held that a plaintiff can avoid arbitration and manufacture appellate jurisdiction simply by voluntarily dismissing his claims with prejudice, has been effectively overruled by the Supreme Court's decision in Microsoft Corp. v. Baker, 137 S. Ct. 1702 (2017). View "Langere v. Verizon Wireless Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order compelling arbitration in an action brought by plaintiff, seeking damages and injunctive relief under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and state law. Plaintiff's claims arose from her purchase of the Experian Credit Score subscription service in 2014. Two versions of the Experian terms of use are at issue: the version to which plaintiff expressly agreed in 2014, and the 2018 version, which exempted some types of claims from binding arbitration.The panel held that a mere website visit after the end of a business relationship is not enough to bind parties to changed terms in a contract pursuant to a change-of-terms provision in the original contract. In this case, plaintiff's claims are arbitrable under the 2014 terms of the contract to which she assented. The panel held that, in order to bind parties to new terms pursuant to a change-of-terms provision, consistent with basic principles of contract law, both parties must have notice that the terms have changed and an opportunity to review the changes. Because plaintiff has not alleged that she had such an opportunity, the panel concluded that the 2018 terms did not form a valid contract. Furthermore, the contract permits judicial resolution of claims for public injunctive relief, but plaintiff has not alleged Article III standing for such a claim. Therefore, the panel concluded that the McGill rule does not excuse plaintiff from binding arbitration of her claims against Experian. View "Stover v. Experian Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of DIRECTV's motion to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) in a putative class action brought under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).Under California contract law, the panel looked to the reasonable expectation of the parties at the time of the contract and held that a valid agreement to arbitrate between plaintiff and DIRECTV does not exist. The panel explained that, when plaintiff signed his wireless services agreement with AT&T Mobility so that he could obtain cell phone services, he could not reasonably have expected that he would be forced to arbitrate an unrelated dispute with DIRECTV, a satellite television provider that would not become affiliated with AT&T until years later. Furthermore, distinguishing Lamps Plus, Inc. v. Varela, 139 S. Ct. 1407 (2019), the panel concluded that DIRECTV fails to show that California's absurd-results canon disfavors arbitration agreements compared to other contracts, and the panel was not persuaded that the FAA preempts California's rule requiring that courts interpret contracts to avoid absurd results. The panel concluded that a federal court's role is limited to determining 1) whether a valid agreement to arbitration exists and, if it does, 2) whether the agreement encompasses the dispute at issue. View "Revitch v. DIRECTV, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a putative class action against CSSU in favor of arbitration. After plaintiff filed suit alleging that he was owed deferred compensation, CSSU moved to dismiss based on an arbitration clause and general class waiver set forth in an Employee Dispute Resolution Program.The panel rejected plaintiff's argument that FINRA Rule 13204(a)(4) invalidates the Program's class waiver. Because the class waiver survives, the panel held that plaintiff relinquished his right to bring class claims in any forum, and because he is left with only individual claims, Rule 13204(a)(4)'s prohibition on enforcing arbitration agreements directed at putative or certified class claims has no application here. Therefore, the panel held that the district court correctly ordered the parties to arbitrate plaintiff's remaining individual claims, and aligned itself with the Second Circuit's decision in Cohen v. UBS Fin. Servs., Inc., 799 F.3d 174 (2d Cir. 2015). View "Laver v. Credit Suisse Securities (USA), LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's order on a motion to compel arbitration of a grievance in which the union asserted that the Hospital placed certain types of patients with nurses who did not have the appropriate training for those patients and that the Hospital was violating nurse-to-patient ratios established by state law. At issue in this appeal is whether the arbitrability of an issue is itself arbitrable, where the relevant agreement includes a broad arbitration clause but is otherwise silent on the question.In First Options of Chicago, Inc. v. Kaplan, 514 U.S. 938 (1995), the Supreme Court established that a court, not the arbitrator, must make the determination whether the arbitrability of an issue is itself arbitrable when the relevant agreement is silent on that question. In United Bhd. Of Carpenters & Joiners of Am., Local No. 1780 v. Desert Palace, Inc., 94 F.3d 1308 (9th Cir. 1996), this court stated that labor cases are different, and in those cases, an arbitrator should decide arbitrability as long as the agreement includes a broad arbitration clause.The panel held that the rationale in Desert Palace is clearly irreconcilable with the reasoning or theory of intervening higher authority in Granite Rock Co. v. Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, 561 U.S. 287, 300–01 (2010), where the Supreme Court expressly rejected the notion that labor arbitration disputes should be analyzed differently than commercial arbitration disputes. Therefore, the panel was not bound by Desert Palace and remanded to the district court to consider whether the union's grievance is arbitrable. View "SEIU Local 121RN v. Los Robles Regional Medical Center" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order compelling individual arbitration and dismissing a putative class action alleging violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and Arizona law. Pursuant to agreements entered into by the parties, Artex and Tribeca formed and managed captive insurance companies that plaintiffs owned, and to which plaintiffs paid insurance premiums. Plaintiffs claimed the payments as tax-deductible business expenses without recognizing them as taxable income. After the IRS audited plaintiffs, it issued delinquency notices and sought to impose penalties. Plaintiffs settled with the IRS and then brought this putative class action against defendants.First, the panel held that the agreements are not unenforceable on the grounds that plaintiffs raise. Addressing an issue of first impression concerning the survival of arbitration obligations following contract termination, the panel held that the agreements do not expressly negate the presumption in favor of post-termination arbitration or clearly imply that the parties did not intend for their arbitration obligations to survive termination. Second, the panel held that the Arbitration Clause encompasses all plaintiffs' claims. Third, the panel joined seven of its sister circuits in holding that the availability of class arbitration is a gateway issue that a court must presumptively decide. In this case, the agreements do not clearly and unmistakably delegate that issue to the arbitrator. Because the agreements are silent on class arbitration, the panel held that they do not permit class arbitration. Finally, the panel held that all non-signatory defendants may compel arbitration pursuant to the agreements. View "Shivkov v. Artex Risk Solutions, Inc." on Justia Law

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Uber’s smartphone application connects riders needing transportation with available local drivers. Rideshare fares are charged automatically via the Uber App, with Uber withholding a percentage as a “service fee.” Grice, an Alabama Uber driver, has used the Uber App since 2016 to provide rideshare services to and from Huntsville International Airport and Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. Uber had agreements with these airports to allow Uber drivers to pick up arriving passengers. Grice, in the course of his work, never crosses state lines. Grice filed a putative class action lawsuit, alleging that Uber failed to safeguard drivers’ and riders’ personal information and mishandled a data security breach in which that information was stolen by online hackers. Uber moved to compel arbitration, citing the Technology Services Agreement that Grice and other drivers signed, requiring arbitration of “any disputes . . . arising out of or related to [the driver’s] relationship” with Uber and prohibiting arbitration “on a class, collective action, or representative basis.” Grice responded that he drives passengers who are engaged in interstate travel to and from airports and qualified for the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 1 exemption for workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.The district court compelled arbitration. The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for a writ of mandamus seeking to vacate the order The district court’s decision was not clearly erroneous as a matter of law, as required for granting a writ of mandamus. View "Grice v. United States District Court for the Central District of California" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying in part Uber's motion to compel arbitration of claims brought by plaintiffs under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Plaintiff alleged that Uber failed to provide a wheelchair-accessible ride-sharing option (uberWAV) in their hometown of New Orleans.The panel held that plaintiffs plausibly alleged sufficient facts to establish Article III standing where they sufficiently alleged an injury in fact under the "deterrent effect doctrine." The doctrine recognizes that when a plaintiff who is disabled within the meaning of the ADA has actual knowledge of illegal barriers at a public accommodation to which he or she desires access, that plaintiff need not engage in the futile gesture of attempting to gain access in order to show actual injury. In this case, plaintiffs have alleged that they are aware that Uber does not offer uberWAV in New Orleans; that they cannot use the Uber App because of its failure to offer uberWAV; that they plan to use the Uber App if it becomes wheelchair-accessible; and that they presently fear that they will encounter the mobility-related barriers which exist within Uber's Application and services. The panel also held that plaintiffs have plausibly alleged causation and redressability where plaintiffs' alleged injuries would not exist absent Uber's actions, and these injuries cannot be redressed without enjoining Uber to comply with the ADA. Finally, the panel held that equitable estoppel does not apply where plaintiffs' ADA claims are fully viable without any reference to Uber's Terms and Conditions. View "Namisnak v. Uber Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law