Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation
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The Ninth Circuit vacated a final arbitration award between Monster Energy and City Beverages, dba Olympic Eagle. The parties had signed an agreement providing exclusive distribution rights for Monster's products to Olympic Eagle for a fixed term in a specified territory. After Monster exercised its contractual right to terminate the agreement, the parties proceeded to arbitration. In the final arbitration award, the arbitrator determined that Olympic Eagle did not qualify for protection under Washington law. The panel held, given the arbitrator's failure to disclose his ownership interest in JAMS, coupled with the fact that JAMS has administered 97 arbitrations for Monster over the past five years, that vacatur of the award was necessary on the ground of evident partiality. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's judgment, and also vacated the district court's award of post-arbitration fees to Monster for its petition to confirm the award. View "Monster Energy Co. v. City Beverages, LLC" on Justia Law

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After Cerner filed an action in state court against defendants, defendants removed the action to federal district court. Cerner moved to remand to state court, arguing that the removal was improper and that the federal court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the action. The district court denied the motion to remand and held that it could exercise jurisdiction under 9 U.S.C. 205, which authorizes a defendant to remove to federal court an action previously filed in state court that relates to an arbitration agreement or award falling under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards of June 10, 1958. The Ninth Circuit reversed and held that this case was not related to an international arbitration agreement or award, as that term is used in section 205. Therefore, section 205 did not provide a proper basis for removal or for federal subject matter jurisdiction over this action. The panel held that the outcome of this case could not conceivably be affected by the arbitration awarded. Accordingly, the panel remanded with instructions to remand to state court. View "Cerner Middle East Limited v. Belbadi Enterprises" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying Aegis' motion to compel arbitration in a class action alleging that Aegis engaged in a scheme to defraud seniors. Applying the federal law standard for waiver, the panel affirmed and held that the district court did not err in concluding that Aegis waived its right to arbitrate. In this case, Aegis knew of its right to compel arbitration, but made an intentional decision not to compel arbitration in order to take advantage of the judicial forum. Furthermore, plaintiffs incurred costs as a direct result. View "Newirth v. Aegis Senior Communities, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to compel arbitration and motion for a mandatory stay in a putative class action alleging that defendant charged excessive prices for its rent-to-own plans for household items. The panel held that the Federal Arbitration Act did not preempt California's rule in McGill v. Citibank, N.A., 393 P.3d 85 (Cal. 2017), in which the California Supreme Court decided that a contractual agreement purporting to waive a party's right to seek public injunctive relief in any forum is unenforceable under California law. The panel also held that the severance clause in the 2015 agreement at issue, triggered by the McGill rule, instructed the panel to sever plaintiff's Karnette Rental-Purchase Act, Unfair Competition Law, and Consumer Legal Remedies Act claims from the scope of arbitration. Finally, the panel dismissed for lack of jurisdiction defendant's appeal of the district court's denial of a discretionary stay and its decision to defer ruling on a motion to strike class action claims. View "Blair v. Rent-A-Center, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit vacated a petition for a writ of mandamus seeking to vacate the district court’s order compelling arbitration of claims that UPS overcharged retail customers who shipped packages through third-party facilities by applying Delivery Surcharge Rates higher than the rates UPS advertised. The panel applied California law and held that the district court's order determining that the parties had entered into a binding arbitration agreement was not clearly erroneous as a matter of law. Therefore, the extraordinary remedy of mandamus was not warranted, because plaintiff unequivocally assented to online terms that incorporated the document containing the arbitration clause in question. View "Holl v. United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Oakland" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for writ of mandamus seeking to direct the district court to vacate its order compelling third parties to arbitration. The petition related to an arbitration clause in a software development and licensing agreement. Considering the factors in Bauman v. U.S. Dist. Court, 557 F.2d 650, 654-55 (9th Cir. 1977), the panel held that the district court applied incorrect legal tests, and did not provide sufficient jurisdictional analysis on the current record. Furthermore, the district court's ultimate finding of jurisdiction was not clear. Therefore, because the district court's finding of jurisdiction over the third parties could possibly prove correct, the highly deferential clear error standard was not satisfied and mandamus relief was improper. The panel also held that the other Bauman factors likewise support denying mandamus relief where the third parties have not shown they lack an adequate remedy at law or they will be damaged or prejudiced in a way not correctable on appeal and third parties have not shown that the district court's order was an oft-repeated error, or manifests a persistent disregard of the federal rules. View "In re Boon Global Limited" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of the Bank's motion for a preliminary injunction against arbitration by FINRA. The panel held that the Bank was likely to succeed on the question of whether the Bank or its Corporate Trust Department (CTD) was a municipal securities dealer and therefore subject to compelled arbitration before FINRA under MSRB Rule G-35. The panel held that neither the CTD or the Bank was a "municipal securities dealer" as defined in the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Bank of Oklahoma, NA v. Estes" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Tri Marine in Washington state court, seeking to recover additional expenses for a knee injury he experienced as a deck hand on one of Tri Marine's vessels. Tri Marine then removed the case to federal court and moved to confirm an order issued by an arbitrator in the Philippines as a foreign arbitral award. The district court denied plaintiff's motion to remand, confirmed the order, and dismissed the action. The Ninth Circuit held that the parties' free-floating settlement agreement and order did not transform into an arbitral award simply because the parties convened with an arbitrator. The panel evaluated the award by looking to its essence and found several unique aspects of these proceedings that lead it to concluded that the order was not an arbitral award. In this case, there was no outstanding dispute to arbitrate by the time plaintiff and Tri Marine sat down with the arbitrator as the parties had already reached a settlement; the purported arbitration in no way followed the parties' prior agreements to arbitrate; and the procedure here deviated completely from typical Philippine procedures. The panel reversed in part and vacated in part, remanding for the district court to assess jurisdiction under the Convention Act and venue, as well as any defenses. View "Castro v. Tri Marine Fish Co." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision vacating an arbitration award to Aspic, in an action seeking to resolve how much money ECC owed Aspic after ECC terminated for convenience two subcontracts it had awarded to Aspic. The panel held that the arbitrator exceeded his authority and failed to draw the essence of the award from the subcontracts. In this case, the arbitrator did not base his conclusion upon Aspic and ECC's actual past procedures, but upon his rationalization that to enforce the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clauses on Aspic would be unjust. The panel held that the award disregarded specific provisions of the plain text in an effort to prevent what the arbitrator deemed an unfair result, and therefore such an award was irrational. View "Aspic Engineering and Construction Co. v. ECC Centcom Constructors LLC" on Justia Law

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Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(a) governs how to calculate the Federal Arbitration Act's three-month filing deadline. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a petition to vacate an arbitral award because the petition was filed one day late. The panel clarified how to perform the Rule 6(a) calculation and held that the petition to vacate was untimely. View "Stevens v. Jiffy Lube International" on Justia Law