Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

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The dispute at issue is between Jones Day and one of its former partners, a German national who was based in its Paris office until he left to join Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (“Orrick”). Jones Day’s partnership agreement provides for mandatory arbitration of all disputes among partners, and that all such arbitration proceedings are governed by the FAA. The partnership dispute proceeded to arbitration in Washington D.C., the location designated in the arbitration agreement.   The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s order denying Jones Day’s petitions to compel Orrick to comply with an arbitrator’s subpoena. First, the court held that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction over the action to enforce arbitral summonses issued by the arbitrator in an ongoing international arbitration being conducted in Washington, D.C., under the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, known as the New York Convention. The court further held that venue was proper in the Northern District of California. The court reversed and remanded with instructions to enforce Jones Day’s petitions to compel Orrick and its partners to comply with the arbitral summonses. View "JONES DAY V. ORRICK, HERRINGTON & SUTCLIFFE" on Justia Law

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The San Diego City Attorney brought an enforcement action under the Unfair Competition Law, Business and Professions Code sections 17200, et seq. (UCL), on behalf of the State of California against Maplebear Inc. DBA Instacart (Instacart). In their complaint, the State alleged Instacart unlawfully misclassified its employees as independent contractors in order to deny workers employee protections, harming its alleged employees and the public at large through a loss of significant payroll tax revenue, and giving Instacart an unfair advantage against its competitors. In response to the complaint, Instacart brought a motion to compel arbitration of a portion of the City’s action based on its agreements with the individuals it hires ("Shoppers"). The trial court denied the motion, concluding Instacart failed to meet its burden to show a valid agreement to arbitrate between it and the State. Instacart challenged the trial court’s order, arguing that even though the State was not a party to its Shopper agreements, they were bound by its arbitration provision to the extent they seek injunctive relief and restitution because these remedies were “primarily for the benefit of” the Shoppers. The Court of Appeal rejected this argument and affirmed the trial court’s order. View "California v. Maplebear Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an emergency medical resident, began working for Crozer Chester Medical Center (“CCMC”). Plaintiff signed an at-will employment agreement with CMCC and an agreement to arbitrate with Prospect Health Access Network (“Prospect”), a company that employs professionals working at hospitals. After Plaintiff was involved in a dispute with a supervisor at CMCC, who also was an employee of Prospect, Plaintiff was terminated. Plaintiff filed a discrimination complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against CMCC. CMCC moved to compel arbitration.The district court denied CMCC's motion to compel arbitration and CMCC appealed.On appeal the Third Circuit affirmed, finding that Plaintiff's agreement to arbitrate any disputes between herself and Prospect did not extend to disputes involving CMCC. View "Dina Abdurahman v. Prospect CCMC LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court held that delivery drivers that delivered takeout food and various prepackaged goods from local restaurants, convenience stores, and delicatessens to Grubhub, Inc. do not fall within a residual category of workers who are exempt from arbitration pursuant to section 1 of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).Plaintiffs, former delivery drivers for Grubhub, brought this putative class action against Grubhub, alleging violations of the Wage Act, the Tips Act, and the Minimum Wage Act and that Grubhub unlawfully retaliated against drivers who complained about their wages. Grubhub filed a motion to compel arbitration pursuant to an arbitration agreement each Plaintiff had entered into. Because Plaintiffs transported and delivered some prepackaged food items manufactured outside Massachusetts, the judge found that Plaintiffs fell within the definition of "any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce" who were exempt from arbitration under section 1 of the FAA. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that Plaintiffs were not transportation workers actually engaged in the movement of goods in interstate commerce, as required by the residual clause of section 1. View "Archer v. Grubhub, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court vacating an interim award and final award issued by the arbitrator and requiring the parties to resubmit their dispute to arbitration before a new arbitrator, holding that the district court erred.M.K. Weeden Construction, Inc. and Simbeck and Associates, Inc. entered into a subcontract for Simbell to install a geosynthetic lining system on the slopes of a new embankment on a tailings storage facility at a mine near Nye, Montana. After Weeden terminated the subcontract by invoking the subcontract's default provision Simbeck filed a demand for arbitration. The arbitrator first issued an interim award awarding Simbeck damages and then a final award awarding Simbeck attorney fees. The district court granted Weeden's motion to vacate the award and ordered the parties again to submit the dispute to arbitration before a new arbitrator, ruling that the arbitrator exceeded his authority by issuing the interim award. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the interim award was a proper "reasoned award" and the district court abused its discretion by vacating it; and (2) Simbeck was entitled to attorney fees incurred in defense of the arbitration award. View "M.K. Weeden Construction, Inc. v. Simbeck & Assocs., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued her former employer, Wood Ranch USA, Inc. (Wood Ranch) for compensatory and punitive damages on nine different causes of action. Wood Ranch moved to compel arbitration. The trial court granted the motion and stayed the pending court proceedings. Plaintiff filed a motion to vacate the trial court’s prior order compelling arbitration. Invoking sections 1281.97 and 1281.99, Plaintiff argued that Wood Ranch’s late payment of its share of the initiation fees constituted a material breach of the arbitration agreement.   The trial court granted the motion, and the Second Appellate District affirmed the court’s order vacating its earlier order compelling arbitration between the parties in this case. The appeal presents a question of first impression: Are these provisions preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA)? The court held that they are not because the procedures they prescribe further—rather than frustrate—the objectives of the FAA to honor the parties’ intent to arbitrate and to preserve arbitration as a speedy and effective alternative forum for resolving disputes.   The court explained that Sections 1281.97 and 1281.99 undeniably single out arbitration insofar as they define procedures that apply only to arbitrated disputes. But that they are arbitration-specific is not sufficient to warrant preemption by the FAA. Further, these sections in this case do not interfere with the FAA’s first goal of honoring the parties’ intent. Moreover, applying these sections, in this case, does not interfere with the FAA’s second goal of safeguarding arbitration as an expedited and cost-efficient vehicle for resolving disputes. View "Gallo v. Wood Ranch USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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The issue presented for the Court of Appeal's review in this case centered on whether California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1281.4 authorized the trial court to stay a plaintiff’s action on the basis of a pending arbitration to which the plaintiff was not a party. Ann Leenay brought an action against her former employer, Lowe’s Home Centers, LLC (Lowe’s), under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA). The trial court granted a petition to coordinate her action with a number of other PAGA actions against Lowe’s. Lowe’s then moved to stay the coordinated actions under section 1281.4. Lowe’s based the motion on over 50 arbitration proceedings against it, but Leenay and the other plaintiffs in the coordinated actions were not parties in any of those arbitration proceedings. The trial court granted the motion to stay, and Leenay filed a petition for writ of mandate asking the Court of Appeal to vacate the order. The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court erred by granting the motion to stay. "[S]ection 1281.4 applies only when a court has ordered parties to arbitration, the arbitrable issue arises in the pending court action, and the parties in the arbitration are also parties to the court action. Under those circumstances, the court must stay the action (or enter a stay with respect to the arbitrable issue, if the issue is severable)." Those circumstances did not exist in this case. The Court therefore granted Leenay’s writ petition. View "Leenay v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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After disputes arose between a general contractor and two of its subcontractors, an arbitrator awarded the subcontractors money for the labor and material they had provided the general contractor along with associated costs, attorneys' fees, interest, and other sums. The general contractor declared bankruptcy before paying up, and the surety company that issued a bond guaranteeing the subcontractors would be paid tendered amounts representing only the part of the awards that compensated for labor and material (and some interest). But the subcontractors (or in one case, the subcontractor's assignee) wanted the whole of the awards and sued in federal court to get it.   The district court sided with the surety and granted it summary judgment. The Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court’s decision granting summary judgment to the surety. The court held that the bond at issue obligates the surety to pay not only for labor and material but also for other related items to which Plaintiffs’ subcontracts entitle them (or their assignees). The court explained that the bond provided that if the subcontractors were not paid in full, which is the case here, they were entitled to sums "justly due," which included costs, attorneys' fees and interest. View "Owners Insurance Company v. Fidelity & Deposit Company" on Justia Law

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Técnicas Reunidas de Talara S.A.C., a Peruvian corporation, subcontracted with SSK Ingeniería y Construcción S.A.C., another Peruvian corporation, to provide electromechanical work on the refinery project. In response to a contract dispute, the arbitral panel issued a $40 million award to SSK. During the arbitration, two of Técnicas's attorneys withdrew and joined the opposing party’s law firm. More than a month later Técnicas objected in the International Court of Arbitration to alleged conflicts of interest held by the arbitrators, but its objection made no mention of the attorney side switching.   The district court agreed with Técnicas that a public policy against attorney side-switching exists in the United States but concluded that the public policy was not contravened in this case because there was no actual prejudice and Técnicas waived its objection. At issue on appeal concerns whether a party to an international arbitration can obtain a vacatur of an adverse arbitral award because two of its attorneys withdrew and joined the opposing party’s law firm during the arbitral proceedings.     The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the judgment. The court explained that Técnicas waived its right to complain. The court explained thatTécnicas, the losing party in the arbitration, had knowledge of the attorney side-switching but did not object until Técnicas received an adverse award more than a year later, The court wrote that its conclusion is consistent with the well-settled principle “that a party may not sit idle through an arbitration procedure and then collaterally attack that procedure on grounds not raised . . . when the result turns out to be adverse.” View "Tecnicas Reunidas De Talara S.A.C. v. SSK Ingenieria Y Construccion S.A.C." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Crystal Point Condominium Association, Inc. obtained default judgments against two entities for construction defect claims. Kinsale Insurance Company was alleged to have insured those entities, under the Direct Action Statute, N.J.S.A. 17:28-2. The relevant policies both contained an arbitration agreement providing in part that “[a]ll disputes over coverage or any rights afforded under this Policy . . . shall be submitted to binding Arbitration.” Crystal Point filed a declaratory judgment action against Kinsale, alleging that it was entitled to recover the amounts owed by the entities under the insurance policies issued by Kinsale. Kinsale asserted that Crystal Point’s claims were subject to binding arbitration in accordance with the insurance policies. Kinsale argued that the Direct Action Statute did not apply because Crystal Point had not demonstrated that neither entity was insolvent or bankrupt. In the alternative, Kinsale contended that even if the statute were to apply, it would not preclude enforcement of the arbitration provisions in the policies. The trial court granted Kinsale’s motion to compel arbitration, viewing the Direct Action Statute to be inapplicable because there was no evidence in the record that either insured was insolvent or bankrupt. An appellate court reversed the trial court’s judgment, finding the evidence that the writs of execution were unsatisfied met the Direct Action Statute’s requirement that the claimant present proof of the insured’s insolvency or bankruptcy and determining that the Direct Action Statute authorized Crystal Point’s claims against Kinsale. The appellate court concluded the arbitration clause in Kinsale’s insurance policies did not warrant the arbitration of Crystal Point’s claims, so it reinstated the complaint and remanded for further proceedings. The New Jersey Supreme Court determined Crystal Point could assert direct claims against Kinsale pursuant to the Direct Action Statute in the setting of this case. Based on the plain language of N.J.S.A. 17:28-2, however, Crystal Point’s claims against Kinsale were derivative claims, and were thus subject to the terms of the insurance policies at issue, including the provision in each policy mandating binding arbitration of disputes between Kinsale and its insureds. Crystal Point’s claims against Kinsale were therefore subject to arbitration. View "Crystal Point Condominium Association, Inc. v. Kinsale Insurance Company " on Justia Law