ARBITRATION-PERSONAL INJURY

October 24th, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Arbitration

Waters v. Express Container Servs. of Pittsburgh, 2022 Pa. Super. LEXIS 432 (October 18, 2022) (Colins, J.)  Appellant Miller Transporters, Inc. (Miller) appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County (trial court) overruling its preliminary objection seeking arbitration of claims brought against it by James Eddie Waters (Plaintiff). For the reasons set forth below, we reverse and remand with instructions to order arbitration of Plaintiff’s claims against Miller. At the time of the accident, Plaintiff was working on an assignment to transport the tanker-trailer for Miller under an Equipment Lease and Transportation Agreement that Plaintiff and Miller entered into.  There is no dispute here that there is a valid agreement to arbitrate. Plaintiff admits that he and Miller entered into the Equipment Lease and Transportation Agreement and that the Equipment Lease and Transportation Agreement contains provisions that require that any claim that “arises out of or relates to this Agreement or operations pursuant to this Agreement … shall at the request of any party, made before or after institution of legal proceedings, be determined by binding arbitration.” It is clear, however, from both the provisions of the Equipment Lease and Transportation Agreement and Plaintiff’s allegations and admissions in this action that Plaintiff’s personal injury claims against Miller arise out “operations pursuant to” the Equipment Lease and Transportation Agreement. The Equipment Lease and Transportation Agreement provides for Plaintiff to use his truck tractor to transport trailers.  Plaintiff admits that he was working on a job for Miller at the time of the accident and that Miller and the customer required him to perform the inspection of the tanker-trailer. Moreover, Plaintiff bases his claims against Miller on breach of its duties to him as a contractor working for Miller and admits that his relationship with Miller was governed by the Equipment Lease and Transportation Agreement. Nothing in the Equipment Lease and Transportation Agreement indicates that the parties intended to limit the arbitration clause to contract claims. The statutes of limitations referenced in the arbitration clause are not solely contract statutes of limitations. Because the Equipment Lease and Transportation Agreement requires that the parties arbitrate any “controversy or claim [that] arises out of or relates to this Agreement or operations pursuant to this Agreement” and Plaintiff alleges that his personal injury claims against Miller arose out work that he was performing under the Equipment Lease and Transportation Agreement, Plaintiff’s claims against Miller in this action are within the scope of the arbitration clause and must be resolved by arbitration. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s order overruling Miller’s preliminary objection that sought arbitration and remand this matter to the trial court with instructions to order arbitration of Plaintiff’s claims against Miller.

Attorney Cliff Rieders

Attorney Cliff RiedersCliff Rieders is a Nationally Board Certified Trial Lawyer practicing personal injury law. A large part of his practice involves multi-district litigation, including cases related to pharmaceuticals, vitamin supplements and medical devices. He is admitted in several state and federal courts, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States. Rieders is the past regional president of the Federal Bar Association and is a life member of the distinguished American Law Institute, which promulgates proposed rules adopted by many state courts. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. As a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, he served on the Board for 15 years.

Not only has Rieders held many highly esteemed, leadership positions, he authored legislation related to the Patient Safety Authority and the Mcare Act, which governs medical and hospital liability actions in Pennsylvania. He authored texts upon which both practitioners and judges rely, including Pennsylvania Malpractice Laws and Forms, and Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania, the latter governing auto and truck collisions in Pennsylvania. In addition, he wrote several books on the practice of law in Pennsylvania regarding wrongful death and survivor actions, insurance bad faith, legal malpractice claims and worker rights, among others. Rieders also serves as a resource to practitioners as a regular speaker for Celesq, an arm of the world’s largest legal publisher, Thomson Reuters West Publishing.

As recognition of his wide range of contribution to his profession and of his dedication to protecting the rights of his clients, he received numerous awards, among them the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, the Milton D. Rosenberg Award, the B’nai B’rith Justice Award, and awards of recognition from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. [ Attorney Bio ]

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