Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
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Motorized-wheelchair users filed a purported class action, alleging that Uber discriminated against individuals with mobility disabilities by not offering a “wheelchair accessible vehicle” (WAV) option in the Pittsburgh area, citing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12181. They argued that but for the unavailability of WAVs, Plaintiffs would download the Uber app and use its ridesharing service. Uber moved to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 3–4, contending that although Plaintiffs had never registered for an Uber account or accepted its Terms of Use, they were nevertheless bound by the mandatory arbitration clause of that agreement; Plaintiffs could not establish standing to sue in federal court unless they “step into the shoes” of actual Uber Rider App users.The Third Circuit affirmed an order denying Uber’s motion. Plaintiffs’ failure to download the Uber app, agree to the terms and perform the “futile gesture” of requesting a WAV ride did not prevent them from pleading an injury in fact. Plaintiffs’ disability discrimination claim did not rely on or concerncUber’s Terms of Use, but was based on the ADA. On interlocutory appeal from the denial of a motion to compel arbitration, appellate jurisdiction is confined to review of that order; the court has no independent obligation to review non-appealable orders, even jurisdictional ones concerning standing. View "O'Hanlon v. Uber Technologies Inc" on Justia Law

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In a dispute concerning a construction company’s liability for contributions to the Benefits Fund, the Fund unilaterally scheduled arbitration. The company sought to enjoin arbitration, alleging fraud in the execution of the agreement it signed. The district court concluded that the court had the primary power to decide whether fraud in the execution vitiated the formation or existence of the contract containing the arbitration provision. The court enjoined arbitration pending resolution of factual issues that bear upon that claim.The Third Circuit affirmed. Under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 4, questions about the “making of the agreement to arbitrate” are for the courts to decide unless the parties have clearly and unmistakably referred those issues to arbitration in a written contract whose formation is not in issue. Here, the formation of the contract containing the relevant arbitration provision is at issue. View "MZM Construction Co. Inc. v. NJ Building Laborers Statewide BenefitsFunds" on Justia Law

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The Union sought confirmation of an arbitration award under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 9. Section 9 provides that a district court “must grant” a confirmation order for an award upon application where the award has not been “vacated, modified, or corrected” under the Act. UPS, the loser in arbitration, opposed confirmation and filed a cross-motion to dismiss, arguing that the district court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction because there was no case or controversy as required by Article III of the Constitution, given that UPS agreed to abide by the award and corrected any subsequent violations.The Third Circuit reversed. The district court had subject matter jurisdiction to confirm the award even in the absence of a new dispute about it. The confirmation of an arbitration award is a summary proceeding that merely makes what is already a final arbitration award a judgment of the court. Confirmation is the process through which a party to arbitration completes the award process under the Act, as the award becomes a final and enforceable judgment, 9 U.S.C. 13. The Act not only authorizes but mandates, that district courts confirm arbitration awards by converting them into enforceable judgments through a summary proceeding. View "Teamsters Local 177 v. United Parcel Service" on Justia Law

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The plaintiffs obtained payday loans from AWL, an online entity owned by the Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians. The loan agreement stated that the loan was governed by tribal law and that the borrowers consented to the application of tribal law. The plaintiffs filed a purported class action, asserting that AWL charged unlawfully high interest rates, in violation of federal and Pennsylvania law, including the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. 1961-1968. The defendants moved to compel arbitration. The district court denied their motion, holding that the loan agreements, which provided that only tribal law would apply in arbitration, stripped the plaintiffs of their right to assert statutory claims and were therefore unenforceable. The Third Circuit affirmed. Because AWL permits borrowers to raise disputes in arbitration only under tribal law, and such a limitation constitutes a prospective waiver of statutory rights, its arbitration agreement violates public policy and is therefore unenforceable. View "Williams v. Medley Opportunity Fund II, LP" on Justia Law

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Six U.S. plaintiffs rented cars from Payless. Each signed a one-page agreement, itemizing charges, below the final paragraph, which provides: “I agree the charges listed above are estimates and that I have reviewed & agreed to all notices & terms here and in the rental jacket.” After they signed their agreements, the rental associate folded the agreement, placed it a “rental jacket,” and handed it back. The rental jacket bears the title “Rental Terms and Conditions” and contains 31 paragraphs. The word “jacket” appears in only the second paragraph. The twenty-eighth paragraph requires arbitration. The rental associates said nothing about the rental jacket. Lee rented a car in Costa Rica, using a two-sided document. The front side contains the details of the transaction. The back is titled “Rental Agreement” and includes pre-printed terms, including an arbitration clause. Both sides have signature lines but Lee signed the only front.Plaintiffs brought a putative class action, alleging violations of New Jersey, Florida, and Nevada consumer protection statutes, unjust enrichment, and conversion, alleging that they were charged for products and services that they had not authorized. The Third Circuit affirmed the denial of a motion to compel arbitration. The rental jackets were not adequately incorporated into the U.S. Agreements; the U.S. Plaintiffs did not assent to the arbitration provision. A genuine dispute exists over whether Lee was on reasonable notice of the arbitration provision on the backside of the Costa Rica Agreement. View "Bacon v. Avis Budget Group Inc" on Justia Law

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MHS, a private, non-denominational school, hired the Darringtons as full-time houseparents for student housing. The Union represents full-time MHS houseparents. The collective bargaining agreement arbitration provision covers “any dispute arising out of [its] terms and conditions,” including the “discipline or discharge” of Union members. A grievance includes “any dispute alleging discrimination against any [Union members].” The Union, on behalf of itself and any allegedly aggrieved Union members, waived any right to a private lawsuit alleging employment discrimination regarding matters encompassed within the grievance procedure. If aggrieved Union members are unsatisfied with the resolution of their disputes after discussions with MHS officials, “the Union [may seek] further consideration” by submitting the grievance to arbitration on their behalf.The Darringtons filed unsuccessful reports with the local state agency for children and youth services, concerning MHS's mandatory religious programming. They then filed charges of discrimination with the EEOC and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission alleging discrimination based on religion. Two months later, MHS fired the Darringtons, who filed additional charges. After receiving right-to-sue letters, the Darringtons filed a complaint, alleging discrimination and retaliation, Title VII, 42 U.S.C. 2000e. The district court denied MHS’s motion to compel arbitration. The Third Circuit reversed. The CBA clearly and unmistakably waives a judicial forum for the statutory discrimination claims. View "Darrington v. Milton Hershey School" on Justia Law

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The Hospital has approximately 1,100 employees. About 500 are represented by the Union. Supervisors are not included in the bargaining unit. The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) provides that [v]acation will, so far as possible, be granted at times most desired by employees; but the final right to allow vacation periods, and the right to change vacation periods[,] is exclusively reserved to the Hospital. Any changes in vacation schedules may be realized by mutual consent. In the event the Hospital unilaterally changes a schedule causing the employee to suffer financial loss, the Hospital agrees to reimburse the employee for provable loss. Konsugar requested vacation during the week of December 25, 2017. The Hospital denied her request because her supervisor had requested that same week off and both could not be away at the same time. Konsugar filed a grievance. The arbitrator stated he could not “conclude that the subsequent reservation of exclusivity in allocating vacations entirely to the Hospital completely negates . . . ‘so far as possible’” and sustained the grievance. In a suit under the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 185, the Third Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the Hospital. The arbitrator’s decision disregarded the plain language of the CBA, ignored the intentions of the parties, and failed to construe such provision to give effect to all parts of the provision. View "Monongahela Valley Hospital, Inc. v. United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial & Service Workers International Union" on Justia Law

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RDC is a direct purchaser and wholesaler of Remicade, the brand name of infliximab, a “biologic infusion drug” manufactured by J&J and used to treat inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease. For many years, Remicade was the only infliximab drug available. That position was threatened when the FDA began approving “biosimilars,” produced by other companies and deemed by the FDA to have no clinically meaningful differences from Remicade. RDC alleged that J&J sought to maintain Remicade’s monopoly by engaging in an anticompetitive “Biosimilar Readiness Plan,” which consisted of imposing biosimilar-exclusion contracts on insurers that either require insurers to deny coverage for biosimilars altogether or impose unreasonable preconditions governing coverage; multi-product bundling of J&J’s Remicade with other J&J drugs, biologics, and medical devices; and exclusionary agreements and bundling arrangements with healthcare providers. RDC’s own contractual relationship with J&J is limited to a 2015 Distribution Agreement, which is not alleged to be part of J&J’s Plan. The Agreement contains an arbitration clause, applicable to any claim “arising out of or relating to the Agreement. Reversing the district court, the Third Circuit held that RDC’s antitrust claims do “arise out of or relate to” the Agreement and must be referred to arbitration. View "In re: Remicade (Direct Purchaser) Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law

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The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1–16, places certain arbitration agreements on equal footing with all other contracts, requiring courts to enforce such agreements according to their terms. Section 2 provides that the FAA covers “a written provision in any maritime transaction or a contract evidencing a transaction involving commerce,” but section 1 states that “nothing” in the FAA “shall apply to contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.” Singh brought this putative class action on behalf of New Jersey Uber drivers, alleging that Uber misclassified them as independent contractors rather than employees, which resulted in their being deprived of overtime compensation and incurring business expenses for Uber's benefit. Singh opposed a motion to compel arbitration, arguing that, to the extent that he had an agreement with Uber, it fell within the “any other class of workers” portion of section 1. The court dismissed, concluding that clause only extends to transportation workers who transport goods. The Third Circuit disagreed, citing its “longstanding precedent,” to hold that the residual clause of section 1 may extend to a class of transportation workers who transport passengers if they are engaged in interstate commerce or in work so closely related thereto as to be in practical effect part of it. The court remanded for resolution of the engaged-in-interstate-commerce inquiry. View "Singh v. Uber Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law

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Jaludi began working for Citigroup in 1985 and rose steadily through the ranks. Jaludi was laid off and terminated in 2013 after reporting certain improprieties in Citigroup’s internal complaint monitoring system. Jaludi, believing Citigroup had fired him in retaliation for his reporting, sued under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. 1962 (RICO), and the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002, 18 U.S.C. 1514A. Citigroup moved to compel arbitration, relying on two Employee Handbooks. The 2009 Employee Handbook, contained an arbitration agreement requiring arbitration of all claims arising out of employment—including Sarbanes–Oxley claims. In 2010, Congress passed the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which amended Sarbanes–Oxley to prohibit pre-dispute agreements to arbitrate whistleblower claims, 18 U.S.C. 1514A(e)). In 2011, Citigroup and Jaludi agreed to the 2011 Employee Handbook; the arbitration agreement appended to that Handbook excluded “disputes which by statute are not arbitrable” and deleted Sarbanes–Oxley from the list of arbitrable claims. Nonetheless, the district court held that arbitration was required for all of Jaludi’s claims. The Third Circuit reversed in part. Although Jaludi’s RICO claim falls within the scope of either Handbook’s arbitration provision, the operative 2011 arbitration agreement supersedes the 2009 arbitration agreement and prohibits the arbitration of Sarbanes–Oxley claims. View "Jaludi v. Citigroup" on Justia Law