Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiff, who represents both a Washington and a national class, was incarcerated three times in the Kitsap County Jail. In each instance, the jail confiscated his cash at booking and returned it to him in the form of a prepaid debit card issued and serviced, respectively, by defendants Cache Valley Bank and Rapid Investments, Inc. (collectively, “Rapid”). Plaintiff was not provided an option to receive his money in any other form. Plaintiff claimed that Rapid’s debit cards carried fees that violated the EFTA and Washington state law. Rapid sought arbitration pursuant to an arbitration provision in a cardholder agreement.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order denying Defendants’ motion to compel arbitration. The panel wrote that Plaintiff’s retention of the release card, prior to use, cannot constitute assent to the agreement. The panel next considered whether Plaintiff’s subsequent use of the card to withdraw funds, while remaining silent, constituted assent. The panel held that because the money Plaintiff withdrew was his own, because the card he was issued came pre-activated and there was no other way to obtain immediate use of his own funds, and because Rapid structured its fees to begin deducting after three days regardless of use, Plaintiff’s decision to withdraw his own money cannot reasonably be understood to manifest assent to the contract. View "JEFFREY REICHERT, ET AL V. RAPID INVESTMENTS, INC., ET AL" on Justia Law

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Doe alleges that she was sexually assaulted by a massage therapist during a massage at a San Rafael Massage Envy retail location. She filed suit against the Arizona-based franchisor that licenses the “Massage Envy” brand name (MEF), and the independently owned San Rafael franchise where the assault allegedly occurred. MEF moved to compel arbitration on the basis of a “Terms of Use Agreement” presented to Doe when she checked in for a massage she had booked at the franchise location. The trial court concluded that there was no agreement to arbitrate between Doe and MEF.The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting MEF’s argument that the “Terms of Use Agreement,” which was available to Doe via a hyperlink on the electronic tablet she was given at the franchise, was a valid and enforceable “clickwrap” agreement of the sort that courts routinely enforce. Doe did not have reasonable notice that she was entering into any agreement with MEF, much less notice of the terms of the agreement. The transaction was nothing like the typical transactions in which clickwrap agreements are used; Doe went to a physical location, where she was already a member, and was handed a tablet to check in for a massage. View "Doe v. Massage Envy Franchising, LLC" on Justia Law

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Valley Hospital admitted Ann as a resident to recover from hip surgery. Weeks later, Valley discharged Ann to an assisted living facility, where she died five days later. This suit alleges that Ann, unable due to dementia to communicate her needs, lost 40 pounds and became severely dehydrated at Valley, resulting in acute renal failure and that Valley, billing Medicare until her eligibility expired, "dumped" her at a non-medical facility, "misrepresenting to the family and facility that [Ann] was stable and healthy enough” for the transfer.Valley submitted an arbitration agreement that John had signed on Ann’s behalf. The agreement stated that residents were not required to sign as a condition of admission. The court sent the suit to arbitration. The plaintiffs paid their portion of the arbitration filing fee. Valley did not timely pay the balance. More than 30 days after the deadline, citing Code of Civil Procedure section 1281.98, the plaintiffs moved to vacate the stay of litigation and to withdraw from arbitration. Valley paid its fees that day. The court of appeal affirmed an order permitting the resumption of litigation. The statute provides that a business pursuing arbitration under a pre-dispute arbitration agreement is in material breach of that agreement—thereby waiving its right to arbitrate—if it fails to timely pay its share of arbitration fees; it does not require an arbitrator’s determination of default and it is not limited to only to mandatory pre-dispute agreements. View "Williams v. West Coast Hospitals, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court setting aside a judgment confirming an arbitration award under Nev. R. Civ. P. 60(b) (NRCP 60(b)), holding that Nevada Arbitration Rule (NAR) 19(C) bars a district court from setting aside a judgment confirming gan arbitration award under NRCP 60(b).On appeal from a district court judgment confirming an arbitration award under NRCP 60(b), Appellant argued that NAR 19(C) barred the district court from applying NRCP 60(b) to set aside the judgment. The Supreme Court agreed and remanded the case with instructions to reinstate the judgment, holding that NAR 19(C) barred post-judgment relief under NRCP 60(b). View "Arce v. Sanchez" on Justia Law

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Justin Shafer appealed a district court judgment confirming an arbitration award against Diamond Development & Custom Homes, L.L.C. Shafer argued the district court erred by failing to increase the amount of damages he was awarded. He also argued the North Dakota Supreme Court should narrowly expand the standard for reviewing an arbitration award. The Court declined Shafer’s request to expand the standard of review, and concluded the district court did not err in confirming the arbitration award. View "Shafer v. Scarborough, et al." on Justia Law

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HyreCar is an intermediary between people who own vehicles and people who would like to drive for services such as Uber and GrubHub. Before leasing a car, HyreCar sends an applicant’s information, including a photograph, to Mitek, which provides identity-verification services. Johnson, a HyreCar driver, brought a putative class action, alleging Mitek used that information without the consent required by the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act. Mitek asked the district court to send the case to arbitration, citing an Arbitration Agreement in Johnson’s contract with HyreCar, applicable to drivers, HyreCar, and “any subsidiaries, affiliates, agents, employees, predecessors in interest, successors, and assigns, as well as all authorized or unauthorized users or beneficiaries of services or goods provided under the Agreement.The district court concluded that suppliers such as Mitek were not covered. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting Mitek’s claim that it is a “beneficiary of services or goods provided under the Agreement.” The “services or goods provided under the Agreement” are vehicles. Mitek cannot be classified as a “user” of HyreCar’s services or goods. Mitek has its own contract with HyreCar, but does not have a contract with any HyreCar driver. The Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 2 does not change the result. The court noted that claims under the Illinois Act cannot be litigated in federal court unless the plaintiff can show concrete harm. Johnson seeks only statutory damages. Johnson’s claim must be remanded to state court. View "Johnson v. Mitek Systems, Inc." on Justia Law

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FeeDx and HayDay Farms, Inc. entered into an Exclusive Distribution and Processing Agreement (EDPA). HayDay’s President also entered into a Consulting Agreement with FeeDx through Nippon Agricultural Holgins, Inc. The agreements provided for arbitration. The EDPA also made HayDay and Nippon jointly and severally liable. Neither HayDay nor FeeDx performed its side of the agreement. The parties entered a Settlement Agreement, which modified, but did not replace, the EDPA. After the Settlement Agreement did not see fruition, the parties went to arbitration. An arbitration tribunal made awards against FeeDx, and HayDay and Nippon petitioned to confirm the award. FeeDx sought to vacate the award, arguing that it exceeded the tribunal’s powers under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). The district court vacated $7 million from the award that reflected HayDay’s unpaid installments under the Settlement Agreement, but confirmed the rest of the award.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part, and reversed in part, the district court’s order confirming in part an arbitration award of more than $21 million entered against FeeDx. The panel held that arbitration awards that, as here, involve at least one foreign party are governed by the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (“Convention”), which Congress incorporated into federal law under the FAA. 9 U.S.C. Section 203 provides federal district courts subject matter jurisdiction over actions or proceedings falling under the Convention. The panel held that the parties’ failure to assert federal question jurisdiction did not deprive the district court of subject matter jurisdiction where HayDay and Nippon’s state court petition established Section 203 jurisdiction. View "HAYDAY FARMS, INC., ET AL V. FEEDX HOLDINGS, INC." on Justia Law

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Communications Unlimited Contracting Services, Inc. ("CUI") appealed a circuit court judgment that granted Steve Clanton's motion for a remand for clarification of arbitration award issued by Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services, Inc. ("JAMS"). Because the awards of money damages for each party were clearly stated and unambiguous in amount and scope, the Alabama Supreme Court concluded the circuit court erred in remanding the arbitration award to JAMS for clarification. The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Communications Unlimited Contracting Services, Inc. v. Clanton." on Justia Law

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Coinbase, Inc., an online cryptocurrency exchange, appeals the district court’s order denying its motion to compel arbitration in a diversity suit brought by Plaintiff and three other Coinbase users (collectively “Plaintiffs”) who opted into Coinbase’s Dogecoin Sweepstakes in June 2021.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order denying Coinbase, Inc.’s motion to compel arbitration in a diversity suit. The panel held that the “scope” of an arbitration clause concerns how widely it applies, not whether it has been superseded by a subsequent agreement. The district court therefore correctly ruled that the issue of whether the forum selection clause in the Sweepstakes’ Official Rules superseded the arbitration clause in the User Agreement was not delegated to the arbitrator, but rather was for the court to decide.   Further, the court wrote that the district court correctly ruled that because the User Agreement and the Official Rules conflict on the question whether the parties’ dispute must be resolved by an arbitrator or by a California court, the Official Rules’ forum selection clause supersedes the User Agreement’s arbitration clause. View "DAVID SUSKI, ET AL V. COINBASE, INC., ET AL" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the appellate division reversing Supreme Court's order granting the petition filed by the City of Yorkers pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. 75 to permanently stay arbitration of the underlying labor dispute, holding that grievances like the present one are arbitrable so long as no public policy, statutory, or constitutional provisions prohibit them and they are reasonably related to the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA).The underlying dispute between City of Yonkers and its firefighters concerned whether Yonkers must make certain types of payments to firefighters who were permanently disabled for work-related injuries and who qualified for benefits under N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law 207-a(2). Yonkers Fire Fighters, Local 628, IAFF, AFL-CIO (the Union) filed a grievance alleging that Yonkers violated the CBA and then served a demand for arbitration. Yonkers responded by filing a petition to permanently stay arbitration. Supreme Court granted the petition. The appellate division reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that this grievance was arbitrable. View "City of Yonkers v. Yonkers Fire Fighters, Local 628, IAFF, AFL-CIO" on Justia Law