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Archive for the ‘Questions of Arbitrability’ Category

Seventh Circuit Blocks Mass Arbitration: Wallrich v. Samsung Electronics America, Inc.  

July 16th, 2024 American Arbitration Association, Appellate Jurisdiction, Arbitrability, Arbitrability | Clear and Unmistakable Rule, Arbitrability | Existence of Arbitration Agreement, Arbitration Agreements, Arbitration as a Matter of Consent, Arbitration Fees, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Arbitration Provider Rules, Arbitration Providers, Authority of Arbitrators, Class Action Arbitration, Class Action Waivers, Class Arbitration Waivers, Clear and Unmistakable Rule, Delegation Agreements, Equal Footing Principle, FAA Chapter 1, FAA Chapter 2, FAA Section 4, Federal Arbitration Act Enforcement Litigation Procedure, Federal Arbitration Act Section 202, Federal Arbitration Act Section 203, Federal Arbitration Act Section 4, Federal Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Mass Arbitration, Petition to Compel Arbitration, Practice and Procedure, Procedural Arbitrability, Questions of Arbitrability, Richard D. Faulkner, Section 4, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit No Comments »

Mass ArbitrationIntroduction: Mass Arbitration

For many years consumers, employees, and others fought hard—with varying degrees of success—to compel class arbitration, and sellers, employers, and other more economically powerful entities fought equally hard to compel separate arbitrations in multi-claimant situations. Over time, companies included in their agreements—and courts enforced—clear class-arbitration waivers.

That might have been the end of the story but for a stroke of genius on the part of certain plaintiffs’ attorneys. These clever attorneys devised what is now known as “mass arbitration.”

In mass arbitration, as in class arbitration, multiple claimants—each represented by the same lawyer or group of lawyers—assert at the same time numerous  claims against a corporate defendant.

The result is that business entity defendants may be are forced to pay upfront hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in arbitration provider and arbitrator fees as a precondition to defending thousands of individual arbitration proceedings that raise one or more common issues.

Saddling the business entity defendants at the outset with those enormous arbitration fees obviously puts them in an untenable settlement position. The business entities also incur very substantial legal costs for arbitration-related litigation.

Given the vigor with which business entities have opposed class arbitration—which, despite its cumbersome nature, purports to be (but really isn’t) a workable mechanism for resolving multiple, similar, arbitral claims—one can hardly fault a judge for concluding that business entity defendants have reaped what they’ve sown. But it would be strange to think that Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) arbitration should, in multiple claimant situations, boil down to the business entity choosing one form of economic extortion (endless, inefficient, and prohibitively expensive class arbitration) over another (being forced to pay millions of dollars of arbitration fees upfront before being able to defend any of the individual arbitrations).

There have been some recent efforts on the part of arbitration providers to amend their rules to address mass arbitration in a more equitable manner. But those rules, and the ins, outs, and idiosyncrasies of mass arbitration are beyond this post’s ambit.

Our focus instead is on a very important mass-arbitration development: the first U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to address mass arbitration, Wallrich v. Samsung Electronics America, Inc., No. 23-2842, slip op. (7th Cir. July 1, 2024). The case is especially significant because it may portend the end of mass arbitration, at least in the form it typically takes.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit derailed petitioners’ efforts to compel judicially the respondent to pay millions of dollars of arbitration fees demanded by mass arbitration claimants. It did so in two blows, the second more decisive than the first. Continue Reading »

S.K.A.V. v. Independent Specialty Ins. Co.: Fifth Circuit Decides Louisiana Statute Invalidating Arbitration Agreements in Insurance Contracts Applies to Surplus Lines Policies

June 27th, 2024 Anti-Arbitration Statutes, Applicability of Federal Arbitration Act, Application to Compel Arbitration, Arbitrability, Arbitrability | Clear and Unmistakable Rule, Arbitrability | Existence of Arbitration Agreement, Arbitration Agreement Invalid, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Clear and Unmistakable Rule, Delegation Agreements, Existence of Arbitration Agreement, FAA Chapter 1, FAA Preemption of State Law, FAA Section 2, FAA Section 4, Federal Arbitration Act Enforcement Litigation Procedure, Federal Arbitration Act Section 2, Federal Arbitration Act Section 4, Formation of Arbitration Agreement, Gateway Disputes, Gateway Questions, Insurance Contracts, Louisiana Supreme Court, McCarran-Ferguson Act, Motion to Compel Arbitration, Petition to Compel Arbitration, Practice and Procedure, Pre-Award Federal Arbitration Act Litigation, Questions of Arbitrability, Section 2, Section 4, State Arbitration Law, State Arbitration Statutes, State Courts, Statutory Interpretation and Construction, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit No Comments »

Introduction: LA Stat. Ann. § 22.868 and its Application to Surplus Lines Policies

surplus lines policy regulation

Louisiana has a statute, LA Stat. Ann. § 22.868, that courts have construed to make unenforceable arbitration provisions in insurance contracts, including surplus lines policies. The statute has an exception or savings provision that removes from the statute’s scope “a forum or venue selection clause in a policy form that is not subject to approval by the Department of Insurance[,]” LA Stat. Ann. § 22.868(D), for example, a venue- or forum-selection provision in a surplus lines policy.

The question before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in S.K.A.V. v. Independent Specialty Ins. Co., ___ F.4th ___, No. 23-30293, slip op. (5th Cir. June 5, 2024), was whether the statute invalidates arbitration provisions contained in surplus lines insurance policies, that is, whether arbitration provisions in such contracts fall within the subsection (D) exception. Predicting how it thinks the Louisiana Supreme Court would rule if faced with the question, the Court held that the subsection (D) exemption did not apply, and accordingly, the statute rendered unenforceable arbitration agreements in surplus lines contracts. The Court accordingly affirmed the judgment of the district court, which denied the arbitration proponent’s motion to compel arbitration.

Pushing the Elephant Out of the Room. . .

Before taking a closer look at how the Court arrived at its conclusion, let’s deal with the “elephant in the room.” Why is the Court in a case governed by the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) even considering enforcing a state statute that would (or could) render unenforceable an FAA-governed arbitration agreement? Doesn’t the FAA preempt state law that puts arbitration agreements on a different footing than other contracts?

The answer is “undoubtedly”, but, as insurance and reinsurance practitioners know, under the McCarran-Ferguson Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1011, et seq., “[n]o Act of Congress shall be construed to invalidate, impair, or supersede any law enacted by any State for the purpose of regulating the business of insurance, or which imposes a fee or tax upon such business, unless such Act specifically relates to the business of insurance. . . .” 15 U.S.C. § 1012(b).

LA Stat. Ann. § 22.868 has been construed to be one that “regulat[es] the business insurance[,]” and the FAA is not an “Act [that] specifically relates to the business of insurance. . . .” Section 22.868 thus “reverse preempts” the FAA under McCarran-Ferguson. See slip op. at 2. (See, e.g., here.)

The Court’s Interpretation of Section 22.868, Including its Surplus Lines Policy Exemption

  LA Stat. Ann. § 22.868, provides, in pertinent part: Continue Reading »

International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) Interviews Professor Angela Downes, Richard D. Faulkner, and Philip J. Loree Jr. about the Three SCOTUS Cases Decided this Term and More  

June 3rd, 2024 Application to Stay Litigation, Arbitrability, Arbitrability | Clear and Unmistakable Rule, Arbitrability | Existence of Arbitration Agreement, Arbitration Agreements, Arbitration as a Matter of Consent, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Authority of Arbitrators, Clear and Unmistakable Rule, CPR Alternatives, CPR Video Interviews, Delegation Agreements, Exemption from FAA, Existence of Arbitration Agreement, FAA Chapter 1, FAA Section 1, FAA Section 2, FAA Section 3, FAA Transportation Worker Exemption, Federal Arbitration Act Enforcement Litigation Procedure, Federal Arbitration Act Section 1, Federal Arbitration Act Section 2, Federal Arbitration Act Section 3, Federal Courts, Federal Subject Matter Jurisdiction, First Options Reverse Presumption of Arbitrability, First Principle - Consent not Coercion, Forum Selection Agreements, Loree and Faulkner Interviews, Professor Angela Downes, Questions of Arbitrability, Richard D. Faulkner, Russ Bleemer, Stay of Litigation, Stay of Litigation Pending Arbitration, United States Supreme Court 1 Comment »

CPR SCOTUS Wrap Up

As readers may know, over the last four years or so, our friend and colleague Russ Bleemer, Editor of Alternatives to the High Cost of Litigation, Newsletter of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) (“CPR Alternatives”), has hosted presentations about significant arbitration-law developments (principally in the United States Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”)) that feature interviews of our friends and colleagues: Professor Angela Downes, University of North Texas-Dallas College of Law Professor of Practice and Assistant Director of Experiential Education; arbitrator, mediator, arbitration-law attorney, and former judge, Richard D. Faulkner; and yours truly, Loree Law Firm principal, Philip J. Loree Jr.  (See, e.g., here, here, and here.) These interviews are posted on CPR’s YouTube channel, @CPRInstituteOnline.

On Wednesday, May 29, 2024, Russ interviewed Professor Downes, Rick and me about the three arbitration cases SCOTUS heard and decided this 2023 Term: (a) Bissonnette v. LePage Bakeries Park St., LLC, 601 U.S. 246 (2024); (b) Smith v. Spizzirri, 601 U.S. ___ (2024); and (c) Coinbase, Inc. v. Suski, 602 U.S. ___ (2024). We also discussed what one might expect on the arbitration front from the 2024 SCOTUS Term, Samsung’s mass arbitration case pending in the Seventh Circuit, and recent, controversial arbitration awards rendered against a major U.S. retail pharmacy company and their implications. You can view that interview here.

As always, we express our gratitude to Russ and CPR for hosting these interviews, and, along with Angela and Rick, look forward to contributing to future programs hosted by CPR.

On a related matter,  CPR Alternatives recently published parts I and II of our article discussing and analyzing SmartSky Networks LLC v. DAG Wireless Ltd., ___ F.4th ___, No. 22-1253, slip op. (4th Cir. Feb. 13, 2024) (available at https://bit.ly/4aviBLS). That case has created a split in the circuits concerning whether a Court having the requisite subject matter jurisdiction to hear a federal question lawsuit on the merits, and thus the requisite subject matter jurisdiction to grant a Section 3 stay of litigation pending arbitration, can be deemed to have subject matter jurisdiction over a post-award application to confirm, vacate, or modify an award—or an application to appoint an arbitrator or enforce a Section 5  arbitral summons—in circumstances where, if the application were made in a standalone, independent action, the Court would not have had subject matter jurisdiction under Badgerow. Prior to Spizzirri, we wrote a number of articles concerning this sometimes-vexing issue. (See here, here, and here.)

Part I of the article is entitled Philip J. Loree Jr., The Fourth Circuit Weighs the Post-Badgerow Jurisdictional Anchor—and Finds It Won’t Set, 42 Alternatives 73 (May 2024), and was published in the May 2024 issue of Alternatives. Part II is entitled Philip J. Loree Jr., More on Independent Actions and the “Jurisdictional Anchor”: Where the Law on Award Enforcement May Be Going, 42 Alternatives 95 (June 2024), which was published in the June 2024 issue of Alternatives. We recently submitted to Alternatives a short, post-script article about how the Spizzirri case, which was not decided until after the other two articles had been submitted, might bear on SmartSky. We expect that article will be published in CPR Alternatives next issue.

Although CPR Alternatives is a subscription-only publication (available to CPR Members only), Russ has said that upon email request, CPR will provide, for fair use purposes only, a copy of each of these articles. You can make your  request by emailing Alternatives@cpradr.org.

Contacting the Author

If you have any questions about this article, arbitration, arbitration-law, arbitration-related litigation, then please contact Philip J. Loree Jr., at (516) 941-6094 or PJL1@LoreeLawFirm.com.

Philip J. Loree Jr. is principal of the Loree Law Firm, a New York attorney who focuses his practice on arbitration and associated litigation. A former BigLaw partner, he has nearly 35 years of experience representing a wide variety of corporate, other entity, and individual clients in matters arising under the Federal Arbitration Act, as well as in insurance or reinsurance-related and other matters.

ATTORNEY ADVERTISING NOTICE: Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

 Photo Acknowledgment

The photo featured in this post was licensed from Yay Images and is subject to copyright protection under applicable law.

 

International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) Interviews Professor Angela Downes, Richard D. Faulkner, and Philip J. Loree Jr. about the United States Supreme Court Certiorari Grant in Coinbase II Delegation Agreement Dispute

November 14th, 2023 Arbitrability, Arbitrability - Nonsignatories, Arbitrability | Clear and Unmistakable Rule, Arbitrability | Existence of Arbitration Agreement, Arbitration Agreements, Arbitration as a Matter of Consent, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Authority of Arbitrators, Challenging Arbitration Agreements, Clear and Unmistakable Rule, Contract Interpretation, CPR Alternatives, CPR Speaks Blog of the CPR Institute, CPR Video Interviews, Delegation Agreements, Existence of Arbitration Agreement, FAA Chapter 1, FAA Section 2, Federal Arbitration Act Enforcement Litigation Procedure, Federal Arbitration Act Section 2, First Options Reverse Presumption of Arbitrability, First Principle - Consent not Coercion, Gateway Disputes, Gateway Questions, Presumption of Arbitrability, Questions of Arbitrability, Richard D. Faulkner, Russ Bleemer, Section 2, Separability, Small Business B-2-B Arbitration, The Loree Law Firm, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Comments Off on International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) Interviews Professor Angela Downes, Richard D. Faulkner, and Philip J. Loree Jr. about the United States Supreme Court Certiorari Grant in Coinbase II Delegation Agreement Dispute

CoinbaseOn November 3, 2023, the United States Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) granted certiorari in Coinbase, Inc. v. Suski, No. 23-3 (U.S.) (“Coinbase II”), a case that is related to Coinbase, Inc. v. Bielski, 143 S. Ct. 1915 (2023) (“Coinbase I”), which was decided on June 23, 2023, and discussed here. Coinbase II involves an issue entirely different from Coinbase I: the application of a “delegation provision”—an agreement to arbitrate arbitrability disputes. That issue arises in a unique context: who decides whether a dispute concerning a later agreement is arbitrable when that later agreement, among other things, expressly submits all disputes concerning it to the exclusive jurisdiction of the California courts and not to arbitration? Is the delegation provision, as applied to this dispute over a subsequent contract, clear and unmistakable, as required by prior SCOTUS precedent?

On November 10, 2023, our friend and colleague Russ Bleemer, Editor of Alternatives to the High Cost of Litigation, Newsletter of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) (“CPR Alternatives”), interviewed our friends and colleagues, University of Professor Angela Downes, University of North Texas-Dallas College of Law Professor of Practice and Assistant Director of Experiential Education; arbitrator, mediator, arbitration-law attorney, and former judge,  Richard D. Faulkner; and yours truly, Loree Law Firm principal, Philip J. Loree Jr., about the recent certiorari grant, what it means, and how the Court might rule on it.

You can watch the video-conference interview HERE.

As we discuss in the interview Coinbase II promises to be an extremely interesting case, one which could (and perhaps should) result in a decision that the parties did not clearly and unmistakably agree to arbitrate an arbitrability dispute concerning a contract that: (a) was entered into some time after the contract containing the arbitration and delegation provisions; (b) expressly provides that any disputes concerning it must be decided in a judicial forum only; and (c) features as a party a person who is not a party to the arbitration and delegation provisions or any other aspect of the earlier contract.

Lee Williams, a CPR Intern, and a second-year law school student, wrote for CPR Speaks (CPR’s blog) an excellent article about Coinbase II, which CPR Speaks recently published, here. Among other things, the article explains the relationship between Coinbase II and other matters previously before SCOTUS, including the very similar Schein II matter. (For a discussion of Schein II, including a link to a CPR video, see here.)

The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately dismissed certiorari in that Schein II matter as improvidently granted, and as we briefly touch on in the interview, a similar fate might also befall Coinbase II. Perhaps more on that in another post, but for now, enjoy!

Contacting the Author

If you have any questions about this article, arbitration, arbitration-law, arbitration-related litigation, then please contact Phil Loree Jr., at (516) 941-6094 or at PJL1@LoreeLawFirm.com.

Philip J. Loree Jr. is a partner and founding member of the Loree Law Firm. He has more than 30 years of experience handling matters arising under the Federal Arbitration Act and in representing a wide variety of clients in arbitration, litigation, and arbitration-related litigation.

ATTORNEY ADVERTISING NOTICE: Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Photo Acknowledgment

The photo featured in this post was licensed from Yay Images and is subject to copyright protection under applicable law.

 

Assignment and Separability: Can an Assignor Compel Arbitration? The South Carolina Supreme Court Says the Arbitrators Get to Decide

August 2nd, 2023 Application to Compel Arbitration, Arbitrability | Clear and Unmistakable Rule, Arbitrability | Existence of Arbitration Agreement, Arbitration Agreements, Arbitration as a Matter of Consent, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Clear and Unmistakable Rule, Contract Defenses, Existence of Arbitration Agreement, FAA Chapter 1, Federal Arbitration Act Section 1, Federal Arbitration Act Section 2, Federal Arbitration Act Section 3, Federal Arbitration Act Section 4, Federal Policy in Favor of Arbitration, Gateway Disputes, Gateway Questions, Practice and Procedure, Questions of Arbitrability, Section 4, Separability, Severability, South Carolina Supreme Court, United States Supreme Court Comments Off on Assignment and Separability: Can an Assignor Compel Arbitration? The South Carolina Supreme Court Says the Arbitrators Get to Decide

Introduction: Assignment and the Separability Doctrine 

Separability and Assignment

Suppose A and B enter a contract imposing mutual obligations on them. The contract contains an arbitration agreement requiring arbitration of all disputes arising out of or related to the contract. The contract does not purport to prohibit assignment, and the parties’ rights under the contract are otherwise capable of assignment.

A assigns to assignee C its rights to receive performance under the contract. B commences an action against A under the contract and A demands arbitration. B resists arbitration, arguing that A has assigned to C its right to enforce the contract (we’ll call it a “container contract” because it contains an arbitration agreement) and thus there is no longer any arbitration agreement that A can enforce against B. Judgment for whom?

In Sanders v. Svannah Highway Auto Co., No. 28168, slip op. (July 26, 2023),  the Supreme Court of North Carolina said that, under the Federal Arbitration Act’s “separability” doctrine, the claim that the contract—including the arbitration agreement— could no longer be enforced was an issue that concerned the enforceability of the container contract as a whole, not the enforceability of the arbitration agreement specifically. And because the assignment concerned only the continued existence of the container contract, and not a claim that the container contract was never formed, the exception to the separability doctrine under which courts get to decide whether a contract has been concluded did not apply.

Accordingly, explained the South Carolina Supreme Court, it was for the arbitrator to decide what effect, if any, the assignment had on A’s right to enforce the container contract, including the arbitration agreement. Continue Reading »

Expert-Determination Clauses: Third Circuit Holds Dispute Resolution Clause Provided for Expert-Determination, not Arbitration

July 31st, 2023 Applicability of Federal Arbitration Act, Application to Compel Arbitration, Application to Stay Litigation, Appraisal, Arbitration Agreements, Arbitration as a Matter of Consent, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Authority of Arbitrators, Challenging Arbitration Agreements, Challenging Arbitration Awards, Contract Interpretation, FAA Chapter 1, Federal Arbitration Act Enforcement Litigation Procedure, Federal Arbitration Act Section 3, Federal Arbitration Act Section 4, Practice and Procedure, Questions of Arbitrability, Section 3 Stay of Litigation, Section 4, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Comments Off on Expert-Determination Clauses: Third Circuit Holds Dispute Resolution Clause Provided for Expert-Determination, not Arbitration

Introduction: Third Circuit’s Ruling on Expert-Determination Clauses Versus Arbitration Clauses

expert-determination

Not every dispute resolution clause contained in a contract is an arbitration clause, let alone an arbitration clause governed by the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). Absent a statute stating otherwise, dispute resolution clauses that are not arbitration agreements must be enforced via ordinary contract-law rules only, not through FAA- or state-arbitration-statute-authorized motions to compel arbitration, motions to stay litigation pending arbitration, or motions to confirm, vacate, or modify awards.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently decided a case that turned on whether the dispute resolution clause in the contract was an arbitration clause, or simply a contractual provision calling for resolution of an issue by experts, sometimes referred to as an “expert-determination provision[,]” slip op. at 14, or “expert-determination clause.” In Sapp v. Indus. Action Servs., No. 22-2181, slip op. (3d Cir. July 20, 2023) the Court held that the clause before it was not an arbitration agreement, but an expert clause and consequently reversed the district court’s decision to compel arbitration and vacated the Court’s order granting the motion to confirm the expert’s decision and denying the motion to vacate it. Slip op. at 3, 19.

Whether or not you are—in a particular case—advocating for or opposing arbitration, Sapp demonstrates how important it is to make an early determination as to whether the alternative dispute resolution clause at issue is, in fact, an arbitration agreement whose enforcement is governed by the FAA or a state arbitration statute.

Another point about Sapp is that its interpretation of the Federal Arbitration Act is arguably more narrow than that of the Second Circuit. The Second Circuit has said that a dispute resolution provision otherwise falling under Section 2 of the FAA is an “arbitration agreement” for purposes of the FAA, including an “appraisal” provision in an insurance contract. The test is whether the dispute resolution provision  “clearly manifests an intention by the parties to submit certain disputes to a specified third party for binding resolution.” McDonnell Douglas Finance CorpvPennsylvania Power & Light Co., 858 F.2d 825, 830 (2d Cir. 1988); Bakoss v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyds of London Issuing Certificate No. 0510135, 707 F.3d 140, 143 (2d Cir. 2013). That dispute resolution clauses, such as appraisal clauses, typically do not use the term “arbitration” is of no moment—all that counts “is that the parties clearly intended to submit some disputes to their chosen instrument [e.g., appraisal] for the definitive settlement of certain grievances under the Agreement.” Id. (quotations omitted); see Bakoss, 707 F.3d at 143. (See also Arbitration Law Forum post here.)

The reason for this difference is most likely because, as we shall see, Sapp ruled that state law—specifically, that of Delaware—not federal common-law, governs what constitutes an arbitration agreement for purposes of the FAA. See Slip op. at 12-16. In the Second Circuit, however, federal common-law governs that question. See Bakoss, 707 F.3d at 143. Continue Reading »

Presumption of Arbitrability: Second Circuit Clarifies the Law

May 30th, 2023 Applicability of Federal Arbitration Act, Arbitrability, Arbitration Agreements, Arbitration as a Matter of Consent, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Enforcing Arbitration Agreements, FAA Chapter 1, Federal Policy in Favor of Arbitration, First Principle - Consent not Coercion, Labor Arbitration, Motion to Compel Arbitration, Practice and Procedure, Pre-Award Federal Arbitration Act Litigation, Presumption of Arbitrability, Questions of Arbitrability, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, United States Supreme Court Comments Off on Presumption of Arbitrability: Second Circuit Clarifies the Law

Introduction: Presumption of Arbitrability

Presumption of Arbitrability

Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse, 40 Centre Street, New York, NY 10007

The presumption of arbitrability—grounded in the federal policy in favor of arbitration—is an important but sometimes misunderstood rule of Labor-Management-Relations-Act (“LMRA”)- and Federal-Arbitration-Act (“FAA”) arbitration law.

According to the presumption, “where. . . parties concede that they have agreed to arbitrate some matters pursuant to an arbitration clause, the law’s permissive policies in respect to arbitration counsel that any doubts concerning the scope of arbitral issues should be resolved in favor of arbitration.” Granite Rock Co. v. Teamsters, 561 U.S. 287, 298-99 (2010) (citations and quotations omitted).

There is an understandable tendency among decision makers and commentators to interpret the presumption broadly, sometimes more broadly than the United States Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”)’s pronouncements warrant. But the presumption is not an overarching command that courts decide arbitration-law disputes in a way that yields arbitration-friendly outcomes. The presumption is, as SCOTUS explained in Granite Rock—and more recently, in Morgan v. Sundance, Inc., 142 S. Ct. 1708, 1713 (2022)—simply a limited-use tool to assist Courts in resolving ambiguities in arbitration agreements.

The presumption is, SCOTUS has said, “merely an acknowledgment of the FAA’s commitment to overrule the judiciary’s longstanding refusal to enforce agreements to arbitrate and to place such agreements upon the same footing as other contracts.”  Morgan, 142 S. Ct. at 1713 (quoting Granite Rock, 561 U.S. at 302). “The [federal] policy [in favor of arbitration[,]” SCOTUS said, “is to make ‘arbitration agreements as enforceable as other contracts, but not more so.’” Morgan, 142 S. Ct. at 1713 (quoting Prima Paint Corp. v. Flood & Conklin Mfg. Co., 388 U.S. 395, 404, n. 12 (1967)).

The policy—and the presumption implementing it— merely requires courts to “hold a party to its arbitration contract just as the court would to any other kind.” Morgan, 142 S. Ct. at 1713. Courts, Morgan said, cannot “devise novel rules to favor arbitration over litigation.” Morgan, 142 S. Ct. at 1713 (quotation omitted). For “[t]he federal policy is about treating arbitration contracts like all others, not about fostering arbitration.” Morgan, 142 S. Ct. at 1713-14 (citation omitted).

Granite Rock and Morgan express SCOTUS’s intention to narrowly limit the application of the presumption of arbitrability and to prohibit its use as an extracontractual basis for justifying enforcement of arbitration agreements more vigorously or expansively than ordinary contracts. (See here (Arbitration Law Forum, 2021 Term SCOTUS Arbitration Cases: Is the Pro-Arbitration Tide Beginning to Ebb? (July 18, 2022)).) Rather SCOTUS precedent treats it as a default rule of last resort for resolving scope ambiguities in arbitration agreements. See Lamps Plus, Inc. v. Varela, 139 S. Ct. 1407, 1418-19 (2019) (Not applying contra proferentem rule to resolve arbitration-agreement-scope ambiguities  “is consistent with a long line of cases holding that the FAA provides the default rule for resolving. . . [such] ambiguities. . . .”) (citations omitted).

A recent, per curiam decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Second Circuit decision evidences the Second Circuit’s clear intention to follow SCOTUS’s presumption-of-arbitrability guidance and shows how it applies to the question before the Second Circuit in that case: At what point in the interpretative framework for determining arbitrability questions does the presumption of arbitrability come into play? See Local Union 97, Int’l Bhd. Of Elec. Workers, AFL-CIO v. Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., ___ F.4d ___, No. 21-2443-cv, slip op. (2d Cir. May 3, 2023) (per curiam).

Niagara Mohawk explains, among other things, that the presumption of arbitrability is a rule of last resort. Courts have no business resolving in favor of arbitration any doubts about the scope of arbitrable issue unless and until the Court has determined that the parties’ arbitration agreement is ambiguous as to whether the dispute is arbitrable. And even if there is an ambiguity, and the presumption applies, the presumption may be rebutted. Continue Reading »

GE Energy Power Conversion France SAS, Corp. v. Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC | International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution Interviews by Video Conference Philip J. Loree Jr. and Richard D. Faulkner

June 2nd, 2020 ADR Social Media, Arbitrability, Arbitrability - Equitable Estoppel, Arbitrability - Nonsignatories, Arbitration Agreements, Arbitration as a Matter of Consent, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, CPR Speaks Blog of the CPR Institute, Enforcing Arbitration Agreements, Federal Arbitration Act Section 2, First Principle - Consent not Coercion, Gateway Disputes, Gateway Questions, International Arbitration, International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR), Loree & Loree, Practice and Procedure, Pre-Award Federal Arbitration Act Litigation, Questions of Arbitrability, Rights and Obligations of Nonsignatories, United States Supreme Court Comments Off on GE Energy Power Conversion France SAS, Corp. v. Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC | International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution Interviews by Video Conference Philip J. Loree Jr. and Richard D. Faulkner
GE Energy Power

On June 1, 2020 the United States Supreme Court issued its 9-0 decision in GE Energy Power Conversion France SAS, Corp. v. Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC. In an opinion authored by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas the Court held that the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards did not conflict with domestic equitable estoppel doctrines that permit the enforcement of arbitration agreements by nonsignatories. Associate Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor wrote a concurring opinion.

On the same day the Court decided GE Power, our friend and colleague Russ Bleemer, Editor of Alternatives to the High Cost of Litigation, Newsletter of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (“CPR”), interviewed our friend and colleague Richard D. Faulkner and Philip J. Loree Jr. about the case and what it means for practitioners.

You can watch the video-conference interview HERE.

Also on June 1, 2020 Russ also wrote an excellent post about GE Energy for CPR’s blog, CPR Speaks, which explains in detail the background of the case and the rationale for the Court’s opinion, as well as Justice Sotomayor’s concurring opinion. You can read that post HERE.

Contacting the Author

If you have any questions about this article, arbitration, arbitration-law, arbitration-related litigation, then please contact Phil Loree Jr., at (516) 941-6094 or at PJL1@LoreeLawFirm.com.

Philip J. Loree Jr. is a partner and founding member of Loree & Loree. He has 30 years of experience handling matters arising under the Federal Arbitration Act and in representing a wide variety of clients in arbitration, litigation, and arbitration-related litigation.

Loree & Loree represents private and government-owned-or-controlled business organizations, and persons acting in their individual or representative capacities, and often serves as co-counsel, local counsel or legal adviser to other domestic, and international, law firms requiring assistance or support.

Loree & Loree was recently selected by Expertise.com out of a group of 1,763 persons or firms reviewed as one of Expertise.com’s top 18 “Arbitrators & Mediators” in New York City for 2019, and now for 2020. (See here and here.)

ATTORNEY ADVERTISING NOTICE: Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Photo Acknowledgment

The photo featured in this post was licensed from Yay Images and is subject to copyright protection under applicable law.

Service and Notice of Application to Compel Arbitration | Businessperson’s Federal Arbitration Act FAQ Guide | Nuts and Bolts of Pre-Award Federal Arbitration Act Practice under Sections 2, 3, and 4 (Part III)

April 24th, 2020 Application to Compel Arbitration, Arbitrability, Arbitration Agreements, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Enforcing Arbitration Agreements, FAA Chapter 1, Federal Arbitration Act Enforcement Litigation Procedure, Federal Arbitration Act Section 2, Federal Arbitration Act Section 4, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Gateway Disputes, Gateway Questions, Nuts & Bolts, Nuts & Bolts: Arbitration, Practice and Procedure, Pre-Award Federal Arbitration Act Litigation, Questions of Arbitrability, Small Business B-2-B Arbitration 2 Comments »
notice of application to compel
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Today’s segment of the Businessperson’s Federal Arbitration ACT FAQ Guide continues to focus on the nuts and bolts of applications to compel arbitration under Section 4 of the Federal Arbitration Act.

The last instalment discussed Section 4 generally, divided the statute into five parts, and addressed an FAQ related to the first of those five parts: “Under Section 4, who May Petition what Court when and for what?”

This segment addresses the following FAQ related to the second of those five parts: “What Papers Comprise an Application to Compel Arbitration and how are they Served?”

Future segments will address FAQs relating to the other three parts of Section 4.  

Applications to Compel Arbitration: Section 4 and its Component Parts

As explained in our prior post, Section 4 consists of 386 words jammed into a single paragraph, but it is easier to digest and follow if we divide it up into subparagraphs or subsections, which we do below, using bold and bracketed text: 

[(a) Who may Petition what Court When and for What.] A party aggrieved by the alleged failure, neglect, or refusal of another to arbitrate under a written agreement for arbitration may petition any United States district court which, save for such agreement, would have jurisdiction under title 28, in a civil action or in admiralty of the subject matter of a suit arising out of the controversy between the parties, for an order directing that such arbitration proceed in the manner provided for in such agreement.

[(b) Notice and Service of Petition.] Five days’ notice in writing of such application shall be served upon the party in default. Service thereof shall be made in the manner provided by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

[(c) Hearing Procedure and Venue.] The court shall hear the parties, and upon being satisfied that the making of the agreement for arbitration or the failure to comply therewith is not in issue, the court shall make an order directing the parties to proceed to arbitration in accordance with the terms of the agreement. The hearing and proceedings, under such agreement, shall be within the district in which the petition for an order directing such arbitration is filed. If the making of the arbitration agreement or the failure, neglect, or refusal to perform the same be in issue, the court shall proceed summarily to the trial thereof.

[(d) Jury Trial, where Applicable] If no jury trial be demanded by the party alleged to be in default, or if the matter in dispute is within admiralty jurisdiction, the court shall hear and determine such issue. Where such an issue is raised, the party alleged to be in default may, except in cases of admiralty, on or before the return day of the notice of application, demand a jury trial of such issue, and upon such demand the court shall make an order referring the issue or issues to a jury in the manner provided by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, or may specially call a jury for that purpose.

[(e) Disposition upon Trial.] If the jury find that no agreement in writing for arbitration was made or that there is no default in proceeding thereunder, the proceeding shall be dismissed. If the jury find that an agreement for arbitration was made in writing and that there is a default in proceeding thereunder, the court shall make an order summarily directing the parties to proceed with the arbitration in accordance with the terms thereof.

9 U.S.C. § 4 (bold and bracketed text added).

What Papers Comprise an Application to Compel Arbitration and how are they Served?

The question of what papers comprise an application to compel arbitration and how are they served arises out of what we refer to as “Section 4(b),” which states:

Five days’ notice in writing of such application shall be served upon the party in default. Service thereof shall be made in the manner provided by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

. .  .  . 

9 U.S.C. § 4.

These two sentences should be interpreted in conjunction with Section 6 of the Federal Arbitration Act and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Also relevant is whether the application to compel is an independent proceeding, or is simply a motion made in an existing action.

Section 6: Application treated as a Motion

Like all other applications for relief under the Federal Arbitration Act, an application to compel arbitration, when brought as an independent legal proceeding in federal district court, is a summary or expedited proceeding, not a regular lawsuit.  Rule 81(a)(6)(B) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that the Federal Rules “to the extent applicable, govern proceedings under the following laws, except as these laws provide for other procedures.  .  . (B) 9 U.S.C., relating to arbitration.  .  .  .”

Section 6 of the FAA “provide[s] for.  .  . procedures” other than those applicable to ordinary civil actions because it requires applications for relief under the FAA to be made and heard as motions:

Any application to the court hereunder shall be made and heard in the manner provided by law for the making and hearing of motions, except as otherwise .  .  .  expressly provided [in the Federal Arbitration Act].

9 U.S.C. § 6.

While Section 6 of the Federal Arbitration Act and Fed. R. Civ. P. 81(a)(6)(B) establish that Federal Rules of Civil Procedure pleading rules applicable to full-blown lawsuits do not apply to applications to compel arbitration, those Rules, and also local court rules, govern motion practice, and are thus made applicable by Section 6 to applications to compel arbitration, unless otherwise provided in the Federal Arbitration Act.

Requirement of Five Days’ Notice

What we refer to as “Section 4(b)” states, in part: “Five days’ notice in writing of such application shall be served upon the party in default.”

That means: (a) notice of the application to compel arbitration must be in writing; (b) it must be dispatched or delivered in a prescribed manner to the opposing party (i.e. “served”); and (c) it must be so dispatched or delivered at least five days before the hearing date on the motion. 

Papers Comprising Application to Compel Arbitration 

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CPR Speaks Publishes Philip J. Loree Jr.’s Post on Schein’s Return to the U.S. Supreme Court

February 20th, 2020 Arbitrability, Arbitrability | Clear and Unmistakable Rule, CPR Speaks Blog of the CPR Institute, Delegation Agreements, Federal Arbitration Act Section 2, Federal Arbitration Act Section 3, Federal Arbitration Act Section 4, Gateway Disputes, Gateway Questions, International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR), Loree & Loree, Questions of Arbitrability, Section 3 Stay of Litigation, Separability, Stay of Litigation, Stay of Litigation Pending Arbitration, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, United States Supreme Court 2 Comments »
Schein II
Steps and columns on the portico of the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

If you’ve been following our posts on Henry Schein Inc. v. Archer & White Sales Inc., 139 S. Ct. 524 (Jan. 8, 2019) (available at ) (“Schein I”), and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decision on remand, Archer and White Sales Inc. v. Henry Schein Inc., 935 F.3d 274 (5th Cir. 2019) (available at ) (“Schein II”), then you know that the arbitration proponent, Henry Schein, Inc. (“Schein”), petitioned for rehearing en banc. (See here, here, here, and here.)

Well, unfortunately, the Fifth Circuit denied that petition on December 6, 2019. But apparently Schein was at least as disappointed with that ruling as we were, and so Schein filed on January 30, 2020 a petition for certiorari, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Fifth Circuit’s Schein II ruling. A copy of the Petition is here.

We were delighted—not because we get to write still more articles and posts about Schein I and Schein II, but because, with all due respect to the Fifth Circuit, we think that Schein II was wrongly decided, and that consequently, Schein has been denied the benefit of the arbitration agreement and Delegation Agreement for which it freely bargained. And we hope that the U.S. Supreme Court grants Schein’s petition, reverses the Fifth Circuit decision, and directs the Fifth Circuit to compel arbitration of the parties’ arbitrability dispute as required by the parties’ Delegation Agreement.

On February 19, 2020, our friends at CPR Speaks, the blog of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (“CPR”), published a post we authored about this development, entitled Schein Returns: Scotus’s Arbitration Remand Is Now Back at the Court, which you can review here.

The post discusses the background of Schein I and Schein II, the events leading up to the petition for certiorari, some of the reasons why we believe Schein II was wrongly decided, and how we believe that it should be decided if SCOTUS grants the petition.

Many thanks to our good friend, Russ Bleemer—a New York attorney who is the editor of CPR’s Alternatives, an international ADR newsletter published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., for his very helpful edits. And a shout-out also to CPR’s Tania Zamorsky, who, among other things, is the blog master of CPR Speaks.

About the Author

Philip J. Loree Jr. is a partner and founding member of Loree & Loree. He has nearly 30 years of experience handling matters arising under the Federal Arbitration Act and in representing a wide variety of clients in arbitration, litigation, and arbitration-related litigation. He is a former partner of the litigation departments of the New York City firms of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP and Rosenman & Colin LLP (now known as Katten Munchin Rosenman LLP).

Loree & Loree represents private and government-owned-or-controlled business organizations, and persons acting in their individual or representative capacities, and often serves as co-counsel, local counsel or legal adviser to other domestic and international law firms requiring assistance or support.

You can contact Phil Loree Jr. at (516) 941-6094 or at PJL1@LoreeLawFirm.com.

Photo Acknowledgment

The photo featured in this post was licensed from Yay Images and is subject to copyright protection under applicable law.