Articles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation

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The Fourth Circuit held that the district court correctly denied Applied Underwriters' motion to compel arbitration in a suit alleging that Applied Underwriters engaged in the business of insurance in Virginia without complying with Virginia insurance and workers' compensation laws. However, the court held that the district court reversibly erred in applying the doctrine of judicial estoppel to hold that the agreement between Applied Underwriters and plaintiff constituted an insurance contract for purposes of Virginia law. Therefore, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Minnieland Private Day School v. Applied Underwriters Captive Risk Assurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying BMO Harris's renewed motion to compel arbitration. Plaintiff filed suit against BMO Harris, alleging that BMO Harris violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C.1961 et seq., when BMO Harris used its role within a network of financial institutions to conduct and participate in the collection of unlawful payday loans. BMO Harris sought to enforce an arbitration agreement for the loan, which was entered into by plaintiff and the lender, Great Plains. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the denial of BMO Harris's motion to enforce the arbitration agreement in light of Hayes v. Delbert. In Hayes, the Fourth Circuit applied the prospective waiver doctrine and held that the entire arbitration provision at issue was unenforceable. The choice of law provisions in this case were indistinguishable in substance from the related provisions in the agreement in Hayes. These choice of law provisions were not severable from the broader arbitration agreement and rendered the entire arbitration agreement unenforceable. View "Dillon v. BMO Harris Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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The Foundation agreed to lend $2 million pursuant to a loan agreement to Al-Harmoosh for a company headquartered in Iraq. After Mohammed Harmoosh, a managing partner of the company, refused to pay the loan, the Foundation filed suit for breach of contract in Maryland. Harmoosh moved to dismiss based on an arbitration clause in the loan agreement. The district court dismissed the Foundation's complaint. The Foundation later filed another suit against Harmoosh to collect on the promissory note, this time in the Court of First Instance for Commercial Disputes in Baghdad. After the Foundation and Harmoosh litigated their dispute to final judgment in Iraq, the Foundation filed suit in the District of Maryland, seeking recognition of the Iraqi judgment under the Maryland Uniform Foreign Money-Judgments Recognition Act, Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. 10-701 et seq. The Foundation also alleged that Harmoosh fraudulently conveyed some of his assets both before and after the Iraqi judgment was rendered. The district court granted summary judgment to Harmoosh on the Maryland Recognition Act claim, and granted Harmoosh's motion to compel arbitration. The court held that judicial proceedings in a foreign court are not "contrary to" an arbitration clause for the purpose of the Maryland Recognition Act if the parties choose to forego their rights to arbitrate by paricipating in those proceedings. The court also concluded that the Foundation raised genuine issues of material fact that preclude a summary judgment holding that Harmoosh preserved his arbitration rights. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded. View "Iraq Middle Market Development v. Harmoosh" on Justia Law

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UBSFS filed suit seeking to vacate an arbitral award that, in practical effect, granted Gary Padussis over $900,000 in compensatory damages. The district court confirmed the arbitration award in its entirety and declined to impose an offset. In this case, UBSFS plainly agreed to arbitration; the dispute was within the scope of that agreement; and the rules by which the arbitration would proceed were openly declared and followed. The arbitration here spanned eighteen hearing sessions over nine separate days. Because the court found no basis for overturning the arbitral decision, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. The court explained that any other result would open arbitration proceedings to a host of challenges over the very type of subsidiary questions that Howsam v. Dean Witter Reynolds, indicated should be left to the discretion of the arbitral body. View "UBS Financial Services, Inc. v. Padussis" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Santander, seeking damages for breach of contract and alleging a violation of the Maryland Credit Grantor Closed End Credit Provisions (CLEC), Md. Code, Comm. Law 12-1001, et seq. The dispute stemmed from plaintiff's use of a loan she obtained through a retail installment contract (RISC) to finance the purchase of a vehicle. The court concluded that the district court correctly enforced the parties' arbitration agreement because the district court properly concluded that the arbitration agreement was a term of a contract that the parties entered into, and that the arbitration agreement was enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 2. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Galloway v. Santander Consumer USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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This appeal stems from Roger and Mary Jo Carlson's attempt to arbitrate class action claims against Pulte under a sales agreement that contained an arbitration clause, and Pulte's efforts to limit arbitration to the claims between the three parties. Because the primary goal in enforcing an arbitration agreement is to discern and honor party intent, and because of the fundamental differences between bilateral and class arbitration - which change the nature of arbitration altogether - the court held that whether parties agree to class arbitration is a gateway question for the court. In this case, the parties did not unmistakably provide that the arbitrator would decide whether their agreement authorizes class arbitration. In fact, the sales agreement says nothing at all about the subject. Therefore, the district court erred in concluding that the question was a procedural one for the arbitrator. Accordingly, the court reversed the order denying Pulte's motion for partial summary judgment, vacated the judgment dismissing the petition, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Del Webb Communities, Inc. v. Carlson" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of a 2007 Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Job Opportunities (the Jobs MOU) signed by the Union and Peabody as part of a wider collective bargaining agreement. At issue on appeal is when and under what circumstances should the court review a labor arbitrator's decision. The court held that judicial involvement in the labor dispute in this case was premature where, under the complete arbitration rule, the arbitrator should have been given the opportunity to resolve both the liability and remedial phases of the dispute between the companies and the Union before it moved to federal court. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's order confirming the arbitrator's decision on the merits and directed that court to return the dispute to the arbitrator to allow him to rule on the remedial issues and otherwise complete the arbitration task. View "Peabody Holding Co. v. United Mine Workers of America" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a putative class action against Delbert alleging that Delbert violated debt collection practices. The district court granted Delbert's motion to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 4. The court concluded, however, that the arbitration agreement in this case is unenforceable where it purportedly fashions a system of alternative dispute resolution while simultaneously rendering that system all but impotent through a categorical rejection of the requirements of state and federal law. The court went on to conclude that the FAA does not protect the sort of arbitration agreement that unambiguously forbids an arbitrator from even applying the applicable law. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hayes v. Delbert Services Corp." on Justia Law

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This appeal stems from a franchise dispute between Dickey's and several of its franchisees in Maryland. At issue was whether the parties’ claims should be arbitrated, as Dickey’s argues, or heard in federal court in Maryland, as the franchisees contend. The court concluded that the clear and unambiguous language of the provisions in the parties' franchise agreement requires that the common law claims asserted by Dickey’s must proceed in arbitration, while the franchisees’ Maryland Franchise Law claims must proceed in the Maryland district court. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment and instructed the district court to compel arbitration of the common law claims only. The court left it to the district court’s discretion whether to stay the franchisees’ Maryland Franchise Law claims pending conclusion of the arbitration. View "Chorley Enter. v. Dickey's Barbecue Restaurants" on Justia Law

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The parties’ dispute involved various “credit repair” services provided to plaintiff consumers, for which some of the disclosure requirements of the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA, or the Act), 15 U.S.C. 1679 et seq., were not met. At issue was the district court's denial of a motion to vacate certain aspects of an arbitration award. The court held that the arbitrator did not manifestly disregard the law by determining that plaintiffs failed to prove actual damages under the Act; the court rejected plaintiffs’ various arguments regarding their request for additional attorneys’ fees and costs; and the arbitrator did not exceed the scope of his contractually delegated authority under section 10(a)(4) of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1 et seq. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Jones v. Dancel" on Justia Law