Articles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation

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Fair notice at a relatively early stage of litigation was a primary factor in considering whether a party has acted consistently with its arbitration rights. In appeals stemming from class actions brought by bank customers, Wells Fargo challenged the district court's denial of its motion to compel arbitration with the unnamed plaintiffs comprising the classes. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court's finding that Wells Fargo waived its arbitration rights as against those unnamed plaintiffs was erroneous. In this case, Wells Fargo did not act inconsistently with its arbitration rights and thus did not waive those rights with its express reservation of its arbitration rights as to future plaintiffs in response to the district court's scheduling order. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's order. View "Gutierrez v. Wells Fargo Bank" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of RBC's motion to compel arbitration. Plaintiff held a checking account with RBC and filed suit alleging that RBC failed to properly warn him of possible overdrafts at points of sale when he used his debit card and impermissibly rearranged the order of debit-card transactions so as to process larger transactions before smaller transactions. The court found it unnecessary to address the questions of waiver or the district court's alternative holding. Rather, the court held that PNC failed to demonstrate the requisite meeting of the minds to support a finding that the parties agreed through the February 2013 amendment to arbitrate their then-pending litigation. View "Dasher v. RBC Bank (USA)" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of RBC's motion to compel arbitration. Plaintiff held a checking account with RBC and filed suit alleging that RBC failed to properly warn him of possible overdrafts at points of sale when he used his debit card and impermissibly rearranged the order of debit-card transactions so as to process larger transactions before smaller transactions. The court found it unnecessary to address the questions of waiver or the district court's alternative holding. Rather, the court held that PNC failed to demonstrate the requisite meeting of the minds to support a finding that the parties agreed through the February 2013 amendment to arbitrate their then-pending litigation. View "Dasher v. RBC Bank (USA)" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's denial of KeyBank's motion to compel arbitration on grounds of unconscionability. The court looked to Ohio law to determine where plaintiff consented to arbitrate; plaintiff consented to the 1997 Agreement and its arbitration provision; plaintiff's argument that he did not assent to the revised version of the arbitration provision that appearred in the 2009 Agreement failed; and summary judgment was warranted in this case. The court also held that the district court erred in finding the 2009 Arbitration Provision unenforceable under applicable state law. The court remanded to the district court to compel arbitration. View "Johnson v. Keybank National Assoc." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court erred in denying Waffle House's motion to compel arbitration in a case where plaintiff claimed that Waffle House and others violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act. In this case, the arbitration agreement contained a broad, valid, and enforceable delegation provision that expressed the parties' clear and unmistakable intent to arbitrate gateway questions of arbitrability, including questions concerning the interpretation, applicability, enforceability, and formation of the agreement. The court rejected plaintiff's claims that the arbitration agreement improperly interfered with the district court's managerial authority over class actions or that the agreement amounted to an improper ex parte communication with a represented party. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded with instructions to stay the case pending arbitration. View "Jones v. Waffle House, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit held, in this international arbitration dispute, that questions of arbitral venue, even those arising in international arbitration, are presumptively for the arbitrator to decide. Because the arbitrator in this case arguably interpreted the arbitral-venue provision at issue, the court deferred to that interpretation. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's confirmation of the arbitral award finding venue proper in Atlanta and Profimex liable on OAD's defamation counterclaim. View "Bamberger Rosenheim, Ltd. v. OA Development, Inc." on Justia Law

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Specific procedures provided in Section 4 of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1 et seq., demanding a jury trial on arbitrability issues displace the general procedures for demanding a jury trial under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, alleging discrimination in violation of several federal statutes. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court did not err in holding a bench trial on the signature issue in spite of plaintiff's general demand for a jury trial in his complaint. Furthermore, the employer's participation in litigation on the merits of plaintiff's claims after the district court's initial denial of his motion to compel arbitration was not inconsistent with its right to arbitration. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's order granting the employer's motion to compel arbitration and dismissing plaintiff's claims without prejudice. View "Burch v. P.J. Cheese, Inc." on Justia Law

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Lee Tillett, Inc. developed and registered a trademark for a line of cosmetics products known as Kroma cosmetics. Tillett entered into an agreement with Kroma EU to give it exclusive rights to sell and distribute Kroma products. Kimberly, Kourtney, and Khloe Kardashian entered into a licensing agreement with Boldface Licensing + Branding, Inc. to create a Kardashian makeup line called “Khroma.” After Tillett, Boldface, and the Kardashians settled a cosmetics trademark infringement suit, Tillett refused to share any of its settlement recovery with Kroma EU. Kroma EU subsequently filed this suit alleging trademark infringement and tortious interference claims against Boldface, vicarious liability for trademark infringement claims against the Kardashians, and a promissory estoppel claim against Tillett. The district court granted Tillett’s motion to compel Kroma EU to arbitrate, but denied the Kardashians’ motion to compel Kroma EU to arbitrate its claims against them. In this case, while the Kardashians are not signatories to the agreement between Kroma EU and Tillett, they contend that they can compel arbitration of Kroma EU’s claims against them by using Florida’s doctrine of equitable estoppel. The court held, however, that Florida’s doctrine of equitable estoppel permits a nonsignatory to an agreement to avail herself of an arbitration clause only when the claims asserted against her fall within the scope of the clause that the signatories had agreed upon. Accordingly, the court concluded that the district court correctly denied the Kardashians’ motion to compel arbitration. View "Kroma Makeup EU, LLC v. Kardashian" on Justia Law

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This case began as a contract dispute between two corporations: PTA-FLA, Inc., and ZTE USA, Inc. Shortly thereafter, three corporations affiliated with PTA-FLA filed similar cases against ZTE USA and its parent corporation, ZTE Corp., in several different federal district courts. All of the parties involved in these disputes participated in a consolidated arbitration proceeding that resulted in a zero-dollar award binding ZTE USA and the four affiliated plaintiff corporations. ZTE USA then moved the district court in the Middle District of Florida to reopen PTA-FLA’s case, join the three other plaintiff corporations to the case, and, finally, to confirm the arbitrator’s award against all four plaintiff corporations. But before the district court could rule on that motion, PTA-FLA (the original plaintiff) voluntarily dismissed its claims. The district court eventually confirmed the arbitral award against all parties, concluding that it had subject matter jurisdiction (grounded in diversity of citizenship) to confirm the award against the original parties and supplemental jurisdiction to confirm the award against the later-joined parties despite PTA-FLA’s voluntary dismissal and the reduction in the amount in controversy. The three joined parties appealed the confirmation of the award, claiming that the district court was without subject matter or supplemental jurisdiction. After careful review, the Eleventh Circuit concluded that the district court properly exercised its jurisdiction and, accordingly, affirmed. View "PTA-FLA, Inc. v. ZTE USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Union filed suit to compel arbitration under its collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with Shaw. The district court granted the Union’s motion to compel arbitration and ordered the parties to select an arbitrator, which they did. After holding a hearing, the arbitrator issued a written decision siding with the Union. Shaw moved the district court to vacate the award, contending, among other things, that the arbitrator had exceeded her power by improperly modifying the CBA instead of interpreting it. The district court then vacated the award and the Union appealed. In light of United Steelworkers of Am. v. Enter. Wheel & Car Corp., the court concluded that it must resolve the ambiguity in the stated reasons for the award in favor of enforcement. Therefore, the court concluded that the arbitrator interpreted instead of modified the agreement. The court reversed and remanded. View "Wiregrass Metal Trades Council v. Shaw Envtl." on Justia Law