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Warrior Met Coal, LLC sued Eickhoff Corporation alleging certain pieces of heavy mining equipment Eickhoff had manufactured and sold to Warrior Coal were defective. Eickhoff subsequently moved the trial court to compel Warrior Coal to arbitrate its claims pursuant to an arbitration provision in contracts executed after the sale of the equipment, not the original purchase-order contracts associated with the allegedly defective equipment. The trial court denied the motion to compel arbitration and Eickhoff appeals. The Alabama Supreme Court determined the breach-of-warranty, breach-of-contract, and products-liability claims asserted by Warrior Coal in its action against Eickhoff were at least arguably connected to the master service agreements inasmuch as those contracts addressed Eickhoff's obligation to provide an employee to assist with the maintenance and operation of the longwall shearers (the allegedly defective equipment). Accordingly, because the parties also agreed in the master service agreements that the AAA commercial arbitration rules would govern any arbitration, and because those rules empowered the arbitrator to decide questions of arbitrability, the trial court erred when it instead at least implicitly resolved the arbitrability issue in favor of Warrior Coal in its order denying Eickhoff's motion to compel. That order was accordingly reversed and the case remanded for the trial court to enter an order granting Eickhoff's motion to compel arbitration and staying proceedings in the trial court during the pendency of the arbitration proceedings. View "Eickhoff Corporation v. Warrior Met Coal, LLC" on Justia Law

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Nielsen Contracting, Inc. and T&M Framing, Inc. (collectively Nielsen) sued several entities (defendants) alleging these entities fraudulently provided workers' compensation policies to Nielsen that were illegal and contained unconscionable terms. Defendants moved to compel arbitration and stay the litigation under an arbitration provision in one defendant's contract, titled Reinsurance Participation Agreement (RPA). Nielsen opposed the motion, asserting the arbitration provision and the provision's delegation clause were unlawful and void. After briefing and a hearing, the trial court agreed and denied defendants' motion. Defendants appealed, arguing: (1) the arbitrator, and not the court, should decide the validity of the RPA's arbitration agreement under the agreement's delegation clause; and (2) if the court properly determined it was the appropriate entity to decide the validity of the delegation and arbitration provisions, the court erred in concluding these provisions are not enforceable. The Court of Appeal rejected these contentions and affirmed. View "Nielsen Contracting, Inc. v. Applied Underwriters, Inc." on Justia Law

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The law of the case from the first appeal in this case was not relevant in the second appeal because, on remand from the first appeal, the trial court had relied on new evidence to decide that Nicholas Giancola had signed an arbitration agreement. Plaintiff brought this survival action and wrongful death action, claiming that Giancola’s death was caused by injuries that he sustained while he was at Walton Manor Health Care Center. Walton Manor moved to compel arbitration, arguing that Giancola had entered into a binding arbitration agreement with Walton Manor. The trial court ordered arbitration of the survival action, finding that Giancola’s mother had signed the arbitration agreement and that she had apparent authority to bind her son to its terms. The appellate court reversed. On remand, the trial court referred the appropriate counts to arbitration, concluding that Giancola had signed the arbitration agreement. The appellate court held that the trial court had violated the law-of-the-case doctrine when it reconsidered the issue of who had signed the arbitration agreement. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the law-of-the-case doctrine did not prevent the trial court on remand from considering new evidence as to whether Giancola signed the arbitration agreement. View "Giancola v. Azem" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Rae Weiler sought a declaration that defendants Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services, Inc., et al., had to either: (1) pay plaintiff’s share of the costs in the previously ordered arbitration; or (2) waive their contractual right to arbitrate the underlying claims and allow them to be tried in the superior court. Plaintiff and her husband allegedly lost more than $2 million at the hands of defendants. She sued for breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and elder abuse claims. After being ordered to arbitration and pursuing her claims in that forum for years, plaintiff asserted she could no longer afford to arbitrate. According to plaintiff, if she had to remain in arbitration and pay half of the arbitration costs (upwards of $100,000) she would be unable to pursue her claims at all. Plaintiff initially sought relief from the arbitrators (pursuant to Roldan v. Callahan & Blaine 219 Cal.App.4th 87 (2013)); they ruled it was outside their jurisdiction, and directed her to the superior court. So, plaintiff filed this declaratory relief action in the superior court, again seeking relief under Roldan. The Court of Appeal concluded, based primarily on Roldan, plaintiff may be entitled to the relief she seeks. However, the superior court granted summary judgment to defendants on the grounds the arbitration provisions were valid and enforceable, and that plaintiff’s claimed inability to pay the anticipated arbitration costs was irrelevant. This, the Court found, was error: “Though the law has great respect for the enforcement of valid arbitration provisions, in some situations those interests must cede to an even greater, unwavering interest on which our country was founded - justice for all.” Consistent with Roldan, and federal and California arbitration statutes, a party’s fundamental right to a forum she or he can afford may outweigh another party’s contractual right to arbitrate. In this case, the Court found triable issues of material fact regarding plaintiff’s present ability to pay her agreed share of the anticipated costs to complete the arbitration. The trial court therefore erred in granting defendants’ motion for summary judgment. View "Weiler v. Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Rae Weiler sought a declaration that defendants Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services, Inc., et al., had to either: (1) pay plaintiff’s share of the costs in the previously ordered arbitration; or (2) waive their contractual right to arbitrate the underlying claims and allow them to be tried in the superior court. Plaintiff and her husband allegedly lost more than $2 million at the hands of defendants. She sued for breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and elder abuse claims. After being ordered to arbitration and pursuing her claims in that forum for years, plaintiff asserted she could no longer afford to arbitrate. According to plaintiff, if she had to remain in arbitration and pay half of the arbitration costs (upwards of $100,000) she would be unable to pursue her claims at all. Plaintiff initially sought relief from the arbitrators (pursuant to Roldan v. Callahan & Blaine 219 Cal.App.4th 87 (2013)); they ruled it was outside their jurisdiction, and directed her to the superior court. So, plaintiff filed this declaratory relief action in the superior court, again seeking relief under Roldan. The Court of Appeal concluded, based primarily on Roldan, plaintiff may be entitled to the relief she seeks. However, the superior court granted summary judgment to defendants on the grounds the arbitration provisions were valid and enforceable, and that plaintiff’s claimed inability to pay the anticipated arbitration costs was irrelevant. This, the Court found, was error: “Though the law has great respect for the enforcement of valid arbitration provisions, in some situations those interests must cede to an even greater, unwavering interest on which our country was founded - justice for all.” Consistent with Roldan, and federal and California arbitration statutes, a party’s fundamental right to a forum she or he can afford may outweigh another party’s contractual right to arbitrate. In this case, the Court found triable issues of material fact regarding plaintiff’s present ability to pay her agreed share of the anticipated costs to complete the arbitration. The trial court therefore erred in granting defendants’ motion for summary judgment. View "Weiler v. Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of DoorDash's motion to compel arbitration and dismissal of an action brought by an independent contractor. Plaintiff had filed a putative class action, alleging claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The court held that the district court did not err in compelling arbitration before considering the class certification where arbitrability was a threshold question to be determined at the outset. The court also held that the district court did not err in enforcing the arbitration agreement where the Independent Contractor Agreement contained an agreement to arbitrate, which, through incorporation of the AAA rules, contained an agreement to delegate issues of arbitrability to the arbitrator. The court treated the delegation clause as valid and rejected plaintiff's remaining claims. View "Edwards v. DoorDash, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal vacated an arbitration award in favor of a client against a law firm because the award was procured by "undue means" as that term was used in Code of Civil Procedure section 1286.2. As an initial matter, the court held that the law firm did not waive its right to appeal. On the merits, the court held that the trial court erred in confirming the arbitration award that took into consideration claims not made in the arbitration demand and to which the law firm was not given an adequate or meaningful opportunity to respond. View "Baker Marquart LLP v. Kantor" on Justia Law

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When reviewing a decision of a common pleas court confirming, modifying, vacating, or correcting an arbitration award, an appellate court should accept finding of fact that are not clearly erroneous but should decide questions of law de novo. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Eleventh District Court of Appeals, which reversed the decision of the trial court vacating an arbitration award and reinstated the arbitration award, holding that the court of appeals conducted a proper de novo review of the trial court’s decision. Because the court of appeals’ judgment conflicted with judgments of the Eighth District and the Twelfth District, where the court of appeals concluded that the standard of review for an appellate court reviewing a trial court decision confirming or vacating an arbitration award is an abuse of discretion, the Supreme Court determined that a conflict existed and agreed to resolve the matter. View "Portage County Board of Developmental Disabilities v. Portage County. Educators' Association for Developmental Disabilities" on Justia Law

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McCall resigned from Shaw and later became the CEO of Allied, Shaw’s direct competitor. Shaw sued, citing noncompete and nonsolicitation agreements in McCall’s employment contract. Those agreements call for arbitration and state that the employer may seek injunctive relief without waiving the right to arbitrate. The state court issued a Joint Protective Order. Aptim acquired the rights to McCall’s employment agreement but withdrew a subsequent motion for substitution in the suit. Aptim filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association. Shaw filed an amended petition, deleting its request for damages, and a motion to dismiss the amended petition with prejudice. McCall filed an opposition, an answer, a counterclaim, a petition for declaratory judgment, a motion to consolidate, and a motion for constructive contempt against Aptim for demanding arbitration in violation of the protective order, though Aptim was not then a party to the case. Aptim, without Shaw, sued in federal court to compel arbitration and to stay the state-court proceeding. Before the federal court ruled, the state court issued an order joining Aptim in the state-court action, retroactively effective, finding that Aptim and Shaw had waived their arbitration rights. The federal district court then ordered arbitration and stayed the state-court action. The Fifth Circuit affirmed, finding that the factors weighed against abstention because the case does not involve jurisdiction over a thing and federal law provides the rules of decision on the merits and strongly favors arbitration. View "Aptim Corp. v. McCall" on Justia Law

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In July 2007, NMG, a luxury fashion retailer, notified its employees that acceptance of the NMG Arbitration Agreement was a mandatory condition of employment which would be implied for all employees who continued to work at NMG beyond July 15, 2007. Tanguilig unsuccessfully tried to negotiate its terms. Tanguilig chose not to return to work after July 15, and sued alleging, among other things: wrongful termination in violation of public policy; wrongful retaliation; wrongfully requiring employees to agree to allegedly illegal terms, failure to provide 10-minute rest periods and 30-minute meal periods and to pay overtime wages and minimum wage in violation of the Labor Code; and failure to pay wages owed at the time of discharge. Early in the proceedings, the court dismissed Tanguilig’s wrongful termination and related claims. Several years later, it dismissed the remaining claims under California’s five-year dismissal statute, Code of Civil Procedure 583.310. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting Tanguilig’s argument that the trial court erred in failing to toll the five-year clock under section 583.340(c), for the period during which an order compelling a co-plaintiff to arbitration was in effect. Tanguilig made no factual showing that she could not have brought her claims to trial while that order was in effect View "Tanguilig v. Neiman Marcus Group, Inc." on Justia Law