FEDERAL ARBITRATION ACT-CLASS ARBITRATION-AMBIGUITY

May 3rd, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Arbitration

Lamps Plus, Inc., et al v. Varela, 2019 Supreme Court (April 24, 2019) Roberts, C.J.-The Federal Arbitration Act requires courts to enforce covered arbitration agreements according to their terms. See 9 U.S.C. §2. In Stolt-Nielsen, S.A. v. Animal Feeds Int’l Corp., 599 U.S. 662 (2010), we held that a court may not compel arbitration on a classwide basis when an agreement is “silent” on the availability of such arbitrations. Because class arbitration fundamentally changes the nature of the “traditional individualized arbitration” envisioned by the FAA, Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, 584 U.S. ___, ____ (2018) (slip op., at 8), “ a party may not be compelled under the FAA to submit to class arbitration unless there is a contractual basis for concluding that the party agreed to do so,” Stolt-Nielsen, 559 U.S., at 684 (emphasis in original). We now consider whether the FAA similarly bars an order requiring class arbitration when an agreement is not silent, but rather “ambiguous” about the availability of such arbitration. “[T]he first principle that underscores all of our arbitration decisions” is that “[a]rbitration is strictly a matter of consent.” Granite Rock Co. v. Teamsters, 561…

ARBITRATION-NURSING HOME-AGENCY OR AUTHORITY TO SIGN

April 30th, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Arbitration

McIlwain v. Saber Healthcare Grp., Inc., LLC. 2019 Pa. Super. (April 22, 2019) Colins, J.-The UAGPPJA provides two ways that an out-of-state guardianship/conservatorship can be recognized in Pennsylvania. Section 5922 provides for a transfer of the jurisdiction of the guardianship from another state into Pennsylvania. Section 5931 provides for an out-of-state guardian/conservator to register its guardianship/conservatorship order in Pennsylvania. “The FAA… does not require parties to arbitration when they have not agreed to do so.” E.C.O.C. v. Waffle House, Inc., 534 U.S. 279, 293, 122 S. Ct. 754, 151 L. Ed. 2d 755 (2002) (citation omitted). “Despite national and state policies favoring arbitration, a party cannot be compelled to arbitrate in the absence of a valid agreement to do so under either Pennsylvania law or the [FAA].” Washburn v. Northern Health Facilities, Inc., 2015 Pa. Super. 168, 121 A.3d 1008, 1015-6 (Pa. Super. 2015) (citation omitted). “The [FAA] requires courts to place arbitration agreements on equal footing with all other contracts.” Kindred Nursing Centers Limited Partnership v. Clark, 137 S. Ct. 1421, 1424, 197 L. Ed. 2d 806 (2017) (citation omitted). “[T]he existence of an arbitration does not require the…

ARBITRATION-LOAN AGREEMENT-ILLUSORY FORUM

April 12th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Arbitration

McDonald v. Cashcall, Inc., No. 17-2161 (3rd Cir. February 27, 2018) Shwartz, C.J.  This case involved class action with an arbitration agreement concerning loan agreements.  The party’s agreement directs arbitration to an illusory forum.  The forum selection clause is not severable.  The entire agreement to arbitrate, including the delegation clause, is unenforceable and the court therefore will affirm no arbitration to take place in this case.  The arbital forum provided for in a Loan Agreement is nonexistent.

ARBITRATION-HOME INSPECTION AGREEMENT

April 6th, 2017 by Rieders Travis in Arbitration

Home inspection agreement contained an arbitration clause.  The lower court found it was not enforceable, but the Superior Court reversed and sent it back to the trial court with instructions.  A PECO power pole fell over and started a fire, and a homeowner was burned.  They filed a lawsuit against the inspection company, saying that the pole was rotted and no information about the rotting was given to the homeowners when they purchased the home.  The parties entered into a valid agreement to arbitrate.  The unconscionability argument rests on the assertion that the agreement was inconspicuous and difficult to read.  However, the agreement contained a conspicuous statement on the top in bold letters advising the consumer to read the agreement carefully.  The damage limitation may be stricken by the agreement or ignored by the mediator if it is improper.  Bodily injury claims are within the scope of the agreement.  The tort claims arise from the duties that the homeowners claim they were owned pursuant to the inspection agreement.  The facts that support a tort action also support a breach of contract action.  Therefore, the tort claims are subject to the…

ARBITRATION-INTENT TO BE BOUND-WEBSITE

April 6th, 2017 by Rieders Travis in Arbitration

The question is whether appellees intended to be bound by the terms of use contained on a website even though they never visited it.  The lower court properly held that appellees did not agree to arbitrate and the Third Circuit affirmed.  The court cited Par-Knit Mills, Inc. v. Stockbridge Fabrics Co., 636 F.2d 51, 54 (3rd Cir. 1980).  Obviously, Par-Knit is still good law.  James v. Global Tellink Corp., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5448 (3rd Cir. March 29, 2017) Hardiman, C.J.

ARBITRATION-WRONGFUL DEATH AND SURVIVAL

May 19th, 2016 by Rieders Travis in Arbitration

Burkett v. St. Francis Country House, 133 A.3d 22 (Pa. Super. 2016).  We are constrained to find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying St. Francis's motion to compel arbitration.  Until the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania rules on the bifurcation question, the court finds itself to be bound by the decision in Taylor.  St. Francis was sued by Roy J. Burkett, Jr., Administrator of the Estate of Nannie Burkett, Deceased, and in his own right as son.  The lower court looked at the question as to whether the arbitration agreement signed by the administrator should be enforced.  Based upon Taylor v. Extendicare Health Facilities, Inc., 113 A.3d 317 (Pa. Super. 2015), alloc. granted, 122 A.3d 1036 (2015), which controls this matter, the trial court order denying arbitration was affirmed.  Arbitration will not be permitted.  Arbitration agreements are to be strictly construed and should not be extended by implication.  Burkett, as administrator of the estate and in his own right, was a non-intended third party.  He was not bound by the Arbitration Clause to arbitrate either the wrongful death or the survival action.  In spite of the…

ARBITRATION-GAS LEASES

March 8th, 2016 by Rieders Travis in Arbitration

Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC v. Scout Petroleum, LLC, 809 F.3d 746 (3rd Cir. 2016).  In Opalinski v. Robert Half International Inc., 761 F.3d 326 (3d Cir. 2014), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 1530, 191 L.Ed.2d 558 (2015), we held that the availability of class arbitration constitutes a "question of arbitrability" to be decided by the courts--and not the arbitrators--unless the parties' arbitration agreement "clearly and unmistakably" provides otherwise, id. at 329, 335-36. The oil and gas leases in this case state that where there is a disagreement the matter should be decided by AAA Arbitration.  Based on the language of the leases themselves and the various AAA rules in the existing law, the Third Circuit concluded that the leases do not clearly and unmistakably delegate the question of class arbitrability to the arbitrators.  Accordingly, the lower court was affirmed.  The lower court had granted summary judgment to the company finding that the court was tasked to interpret the arbitration agreement and denied royalty holders motion for reconsideration.

ARBITRATION-POWER OF ATTORNEY-MANOR CARE

January 26th, 2016 by Rieders Travis in Arbitration

Wisler v. Manor Care of Lancaster, PA, LLC, 124 A.3d 317 (Pa. Super. 2015).  Manor Care contends that the trial court erred in refusing to compel arbitration of executor's claims arising out of decedent's stay at a Manor Care Nursing Home.  Trial court properly found the arbitration agreement invalid, ruling that the power of attorney for decedent lacked the authority to enter into such an agreement.  A party can be compelled to arbitrate even if he or she did not sign the agreement if the common law principles of agency and contract support an obligation on his or her part.  Express authority exists where the principal deliberately and specifically grants authority to the agent as to certain matters.  Certainly that did not happen here.  If valid, durable power of attorney constitutes a grant of express authority per its terms.  There was nothing in this agreement for power of attorney which included arbitration.  There was no apparent authority either.  There is no power by estoppel.  There was no intentional spoliation or adverse inference as a matter of evidence because the power of attorney was missing.  Adverse inferences are not evidence.  Our…

ARBITRATION-CONSUMER MATTERS

January 26th, 2016 by Rieders Travis in Arbitration

DIRECTV, Inc. v. Imburgia, 136 S.Ct. 463 (2015).  The Federal Arbitration Act states that a "written provision" in a contract providing for "settle[ment] by arbitration" of "a controversy ... arising out of" that "contract ... shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract." ... We here consider a California court's refusal to enforce an arbitration provision in a contract. In our view, that decision does not rest "upon such grounds as exist ... for the revocation of any contract," and we consequently set that judgment aside.  Hence, the California Court of Appeal must "enforc[e]" the arbitration agreement.  9 U.S.C. § 2.  The judgment of the California Court of Appeal is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this option.