Justia U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation
GP3 II, LLC v. Litong Capital, LLC
After a construction project fell through, Plaintiff sued Defendant. Defendant filed a motion to compel arbitration. At issue in this case is whether the party who signed the contract on behalf of Plaintiff had authority to do so. The district court concluded they did not and the Eighth Circuit affirmed.The Eighth Circuit found that the signing party neither had actual or apparent authority to sign the contract containing the arbitration agreement. Apparent authority is created by the conduct of the principal, not of the agent. View "GP3 II, LLC v. Litong Capital, LLC" on Justia Law
Ind. Steel Construction, Inc. v. Lunda Construction Company
The parties entered into a contract related to the construction of a bridge. Plaintiff filed a claim against Defendant including those of breach of contract, promissory estoppel, unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, and negligent misrepresentation. Based on an arbitration agreement, the parties presented their cases to an arbitrator, which found in Defendant's favor. The arbitrator awarded attorney's fees to Defendant.The district court reversed the arbitrator's award of attorney's fees, finding that the arbitrator exceeded his authority in awarding the fees.The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's order reducing Defendant's arbitration award to exclude attorney's fees. The arbitration agreement at issue was not entirely clear on the attorney's fees issues, but Plaintiff cannot show that “the arbitrator based his decision on some body of thought, or feeling, or policy, or law that is outside the contract." View "Ind. Steel Construction, Inc. v. Lunda Construction Company" on Justia Law
National Nurses Organizing Committee-Missouri & Kansas v. Midwest Division-RMC, LLC
After RMC implemented new staffing grids for registered nurses at its acute-care hospital, the Union filed a grievance under the parties’ collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and later sought arbitration. The grievance alleged that “the hospital intends to displace bargaining unit (BU) RNs [with] supervisory RNs in the performance of BU work as expressed in the hospital’s staffing grids” that were implemented in June 2020 and that “removed RNs in the BU.” RMC refused to process the grievance, claiming that the CBA did not cover the Union’s allegations of wrongdoing. The Union filed suit, seeking to compel arbitration.The Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the Union. The CBA defines “grievance” as “[a]n alleged breach of the terms and provisions of this Agreement,” sets forth the process for submitting grievances to RMC, and provides that if the grievance is not resolved by the parties, “the Union may advance the grievance to arbitration.” Article 38(1)(F) exempts from arbitration certain disputes. Because the grievance alleges displacement of bargaining unit nurses, which is covered by Article 3, and not issues related to nurse-to-patient staffing levels, which are covered by Article 38, Article 38(1)(F)’s arbitration exemption does not apply. View "National Nurses Organizing Committee-Missouri & Kansas v. Midwest Division-RMC, LLC" on Justia Law
Principal Securities, Inc. v. Agarwal
PSI filed suit seeking to enjoin an arbitration proceeding filed with FINRA. The district court found that the claimants in the underlying arbitration action were involved in joint business ventures with PSI's former registered representative, not securities transactions governed by FINRA, and thus there was no basis to compel PSI to participate in a FINRA arbitration proceeding.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of injunctive relief enjoining claimants from proceeding with arbitration. The court stated that FINRA's purpose is not to make a brokerage firm the insurer of failed business ventures. In this case, claimants, relying on their own knowledge and expertise, engaged in arms-length business transactions outside of a financial advisor's association with PSI that led purportedly to the loss of millions of dollars. The court concluded that claimants cannot compel arbitration under FINRA Rule 12200 because they have failed to demonstrate that they were the financial advisor's customers—that is, in a relationship with the financial advisor that was related directly to investment or brokerage services. View "Principal Securities, Inc. v. Agarwal" on Justia Law
Duncan v. International Markets Live, Inc.
Plaintiff filed suit against IML in state court, alleging claims for breach of contract, promissory estoppel, unjust enrichment, equitable estoppel, and fraudulent misrepresentation. After removal to federal court, the district court found that there was a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the parties had agreed to arbitrate and then denied IML's motion to compel arbitration.The Eighth Circuit remanded to the district court for a trial to determine whether an arbitration agreement exists. In this case, viewing the record in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the district court found that material facts remain in dispute as to whether the parties agreed to arbitrate. The court explained that the next step should have been to hold a trial pursuant to 9 U.S.C. 4. View "Duncan v. International Markets Live, Inc." on Justia Law
Foster v. Walmart, Inc.
McCoy v. Walmart, Inc.
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Walmart's motion to compel arbitration in an action brought by a customer, seeking to represent a nationwide class of disgruntled gift-card purchasers in Missouri state court. Over the next fifteen months after the complaint was filed, Walmart gave no hint that it was interested in arbitration. Instead, it immediately removed the case to federal district court and filed a motion to dismiss all counts. After plaintiff filed an amended complaint, Walmart once again moved to dismiss on multiple grounds. Walmart subsequently moved to compel arbitration, which the district court refused. The court agreed with the district court, concluding that Walmart had taken several actions that substantially invoked the litigation machinery and that were inconsistent with its right to arbitrate and Walmart's delay prejudiced plaintiff and would likely result in a duplication of efforts. View "McCoy v. Walmart, Inc." on Justia Law
Sitzer v. National Association of Realtors
The Eighth Circuit concluded that HomeServices waived its right to arbitrate after actively litigating this case in federal court for nearly a year. The court also concluded that, under circuit precedent, the issue of whether a party has decided to substantially invoke the litigation machinery is a question for the court, rather than the arbitrator, to answer. In this case, the company failed to do all it could reasonably have been expected to do to make the earliest feasible determination of whether to proceed judicially or by arbitration. View "Sitzer v. National Association of Realtors" on Justia Law
WM Crittenden Operations, LLC v. United Food and Commercial Workers
The Eighth Circuit affirmed an arbitration award that reinstated a member of the union to her former position after she was discharged by the company. The court concluded that the parties agreement authorized the arbitrator to determine whether there has been a violation of the parties' agreement within the allegations set forth in the grievance. In this case, the parties bargained for the arbitrator's interpretation of the agreement's just cause provision and the provision does not specify that the same just cause is sufficient to justify all types of adverse action.The court also concluded that the arbitrator's award drew its essence from the parties' agreement. Finally, the court concluded that the record does not establish that the employee committed abuse as defined by the cited statutes, or that allowing her to return to work after a suspension violates public policy. View "WM Crittenden Operations, LLC v. United Food and Commercial Workers" on Justia Law
J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. v. BNSF Railway Co.
After an arbitration panel issued its award in a dispute between J.B. Hunt and BNSF, the district court confirmed the award but denied Hunt's request for additional relief.The Eighth Circuit focused on the substance of Hunt's request for additional relief rather than how Hunt captioned it, concluding that the request was not premature. The court also concluded that, assuming Hunt's interpretation of the award is correct, it was entitled to a declaratory judgment to that effect once the district court had confirmed the award. BNSF's argument to the contrary is unavailing. Although the court agreed with BNSF that it need not reach the merits of the parties' dispute about the interpretation of the award to conclude that the district court properly denied Hunt's request for "enforcement" insofar as it was a request for an order of specific performance, the court did not need to reach the merits of the parties' dispute about the interpretation of the award to determine whether the district court properly denied Hunt's request for "enforcement" insofar as it was a request for a declaratory judgment. Finally, the court concluded that the parties' arguments expose a genuine ambiguity in the award, describing BNSF's obligations under the award. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law