Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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Plaintiff filed suit in the New York Supreme Court pursuant to New York Civil Practice Law and Rule 7515 (C.P.L.R. 7515), challenging arbitration of her sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and retaliation claims against Fox News and certain senior executives. C.P.L.R. 7515 prohibits mandatory arbitration clauses covering employment discrimination claims, "[e]xcept where inconsistent with federal law." After removal to federal court, the district court denied plaintiff's motion to remand to state court on the basis that the action necessarily raises an issue of federal law: whether her claim is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion, concluding that plaintiff's suit arises under federal law. The court applied the Grable-Gunn analysis and concluded that because section 7515 requires a threshold showing that the plaintiff's claim complies with the FAA, it necessarily raises a substantial federal issue that may be resolved in federal court without threatening the federal-state balance. View "Tantaros v. Fox News Network, LLC" on Justia Law

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Petitioners appeal the district court's order denying their petition to set aside an arbitral award issued by an ad hoc arbitral tribunal constituted under a bilateral investment treaty between Mongolia and the People's Republic of China, and granting Mongolia's cross-petition to confirm the award. Petitioners also challenge the district court's rejection of their petition to compel arbitration on the merits.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, rejecting the appeal and holding that petitioners were not entitled to de novo review of the arbitrability of their investment claims. While the bilateral investment treaty in this case does not contain a clear statement empowering arbitrators to decide issues of arbitrability, the court held that the parties nonetheless clearly and unmistakably agreed to submit questions of arbitrability to the arbitral tribunal in the course of the dispute between them. Therefore, the court concluded that the district court properly declined to determine independently the arbitrability of petitioners' investment claims; in reaching their decision on arbitrability, the arbitrators did not exceed their powers; and the court agreed with the district court's decision to confirm the award. View "Beijing Shougang Mining Investment Co., Ltd. v. Mongolia" on Justia Law

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Anonymous plaintiffs filed a putative class action against The Trump Corporation, Donald J. Trump, and various members of his family, asserting claims for racketeering in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1962(c), conspiracy to conduct the affairs of a racketeering enterprise in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1962(d), dissemination of untrue and misleading public statements in violation of California law, unfair competition in violation of California law, unfair and deceptive trade practices in violation of Maryland and Pennsylvania law, common-law fraud, and common-law negligent misrepresentation. Plaintiffs contend that defendants fraudulently induced them to enter into business relationships with non-party appellant, ACN, by making a series of deceptive and misleading statements. The district court denied both defendants and ACN's motions to compel arbitration.The Second Circuit affirmed, concluding that (1) defendants may not compel plaintiffs to arbitrate their dispute on equitable estoppel grounds; and (2) the district court may not compel arbitration as to ACN's discovery dispute because the court lacked an independent basis for subject-matter jurisdiction over the parties' dispute. The court considered defendants and ACN's remaining arguments on appeal and concluded that they are without merit. View "Doe v. The Trump Corporation" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs DDK Hotels, DDK Hospitality, and DDK Management filed suit against Defendants Williams-Sonoma and West Elm, asserting claims for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of fiduciary duty, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, and unjust enrichment. West Elm then brought an action in the Delaware Court of Chancery, seeking to dissolve the joint venture, which the Delaware court dismissed. Plaintiffs then filed a supplemental complaint in the district court to assert an additional claim for breach of the prevailing party provisions of Section 21(h) of the joint venture agreement. Defendants then moved to compel arbitration for that claim, which the district court denied.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying defendants' motion to compel arbitration, concluding that the joint venture agreement does not "clearly and unmistakably" delegate arbitrability to the arbitrator and that the district court therefore correctly ruled on the scope of the arbitration agreement. Finally, the court rejected DDK Hospitality's request for prevailing party fees and noted that DDK Hospitality may pursue its request for fees on remand. View "DDK Hotels, LLC v. Williams-Sonoma, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's July 8, 2020 Order granting an application for discovery assistance pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1782 and the August 25, 2020 Order denying reconsideration of the same. The Fund, a Russian corporation, sought assistance from the district court to order discovery from AlixPartners for use in an arbitration proceeding brought by the Fund against Lithuania before an arbitral panel established pursuant to a bilateral investment treaty between Lithuania and Russia.The court concluded that an arbitration between a foreign state and an investor, which takes place before an arbitral panel established pursuant to a bilateral investment treaty to which the foreign State is a party, constitutes a "proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal" under 28 U.S.C. 1782; the Fund, as a party to the arbitration for which it seeks discovery assistance, is an "interested person" who may seek discovery assistance for such an arbitration under section 1782; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the Intel factors weigh in favor of granting the Fund's discovery application under section 1782. View "The Application of the Fund v. AlixPartners" on Justia Law

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Soliman entered a California Subway sandwich shop. An employee showed her an in-store, hard-copy advertisement, on which Subway offered to send special offers if she texted a keyword. Soliman sent a text message to Subway. Subway began sending her, via text message, hyperlinks to electronic coupons. Soliman alleges that she later requested by text that Subway stop sending her messages, but her request was ignored. She filed suit under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Subway moved to compel arbitration, arguing that a contract was formed because the in-store advertisement, from which Soliman got the keyword and shortcode, included a reference to terms and conditions, including an arbitration requirement, located on Subway’s website and provided the URL.The Second Circuit affirmed the denial of the motion to compel arbitration. Under California law, Soliman was not bound by the arbitration provision because Subway did not provide reasonably conspicuous notice that she was agreeing to the terms on the website. Because of barriers relating to the design and content of the print advertisement, and the accessibility and language of the website itself, the terms and conditions were not reasonably conspicuous under the totality of the circumstances; a reasonable consumer would not realize she was being bound to such terms by sending a text message to Subway in order to receive promotional offers. View "Soliman v. Subway Franchisee Advert. Fund Trust, Ltd." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's order compelling arbitration of plaintiff's claims for breach of fiduciary duty under section 502(a)(2) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Plaintiff filed suit in 2016 as representative of an ERISA Plan and its participants, alleging that Ruane, a third-party investment manager and plan administrator retained by plaintiff's employer, DST, mismanaged the assets of DST's 401(k) profit-sharing fund, causing it to lose substantial value.The court concluded that plaintiff's ERISA claims for breach of fiduciary duty are not properly understood to be "related to" his employment because none of the facts he would have to prove to prevail on his claims pertain to his employment. Furthermore, other individuals and entities that were never employed by DST could have brought identical claims, including other Plan beneficiaries, the Secretary of Labor, and DST itself. Moreover, the court explained that Congress explicitly authorized plan beneficiaries and others to sue individual fiduciaries in federal court for breach of their duties under ERISA: to interpret the Arbitration Agreement as mandating arbitration of ERISA fiduciary claims would unacceptably undercut the viability of such actions. Therefore, this result is neither required by the Arbitration Agreement's express language nor acceptable in light of ERISA's protective purposes. View "Cooper v. Ruane Cunniff & Goldfarb Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment confirming an arbitration award in favor of the State of New York. The court held that the arbitral panel – which did in fact consider the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) – reasonably concluded that its task in this case was a straightforward matter of contract interpretation not subject to the Secretary of the Interior's approval. The court explained that the panel did not disregard the IGRA, and deferral to the Department of the Interior was not warranted. Therefore, the arbitral panel did not manifestly disregard governing law, and the district court properly confirmed the award. View "Seneca Nation of Indians v. State of New York" on Justia Law

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The Union represented the workers at the Old Brookville campus. In 2016, LIU contracted out that work to A&A, which became the employer of those workers and assumed an existing collective bargaining agreement, set to expire in August 2017. A&A and the Union entered into a successor CBA, which requires Union membership after 30 days but allows A&A to hire “substitute employees” “to fill in for employees who are out on disability or worker’s compensation or approved extended leaves.” The Union rejected a provision that would have permitted A&A to use non-union “temporary employees” at will for up to 90 days. The agreement has an arbitration provision.Union members noticed new, non-union employees in late 2017. A&A indicated that they were "substitute employees." The Union determined that the number of claimed substitutes exceeded the number of members out on disability, worker’s compensation, and other approved leaves of absence and sent a written grievance. The Union framed the arbitration issue: whether A&A violated the CBA by utilizing temporary employees ... to perform bargaining unit work. A&A argued that the Arbitrator was confined to the issue proposed by the Union in its original grievance, which mentioned only “substitute employees.”The arbitrator held that A&A had violated the CBA and issued an award of $1,702,263.81. The Second Circuit affirmed. The arbitrator did not exceed his authority. While worded differently, the issue that the arbitrator ruled on was substantially identical to the issue in the grievance letter. A party that has previously agreed to arbitrate cannot frustrate the process by refusing to agree on the form of the issue. The arbitrator’s interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement was more than colorable. View "A&A Maintenance Enterprise, Inc. v. Ramnarain" on Justia Law

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Dylan filed suit in district court seeking a declaration of its rights and obligations under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The district court converted defendants' motion to dismiss into a motion to compel arbitration and granted the motion, dismissing Dylan's complaint without prejudice.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal; clarified that the district court had federal question jurisdiction to decide whether Dylan was entitled to the declaratory relief requested; and held that, because the Funds have adequately initiated arbitration, regardless of timing, Dylan is required to arbitrate by the terms of the CBA. The court also agreed with the district court's analysis that it was proper in this case to compel arbitration and dismiss Dylan's complaint without prejudice. The court considered Dylan's remaining arguments and found them to be without merit. View "Dylan 140 LLC v. Figueroa" on Justia Law