Articles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation

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After the underlying business dispute proceeded to arbitration, Appellees filed in the circuit court a petition to enforce the award, and Appellant filed a cross-petition to vacate the award. The circuit court confirmed the award. Appellant appealed, arguing that the arbitrator lacked the authority to hear the case under either federal or Arkansas law and that the award should have been vacated on public policy grounds. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order confirming the award, holding (1) jurisdiction was properly under the Federal Arbitration Act; and (2) the circuit court did not err in failing to vacate the award on public policy grounds. View "Kilgore v. Mullenax" on Justia Law

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Appellants Courtyard Gardens Health and Rehabilitation, LLC and others (“collectively Courtyard”), appealed a circuit court order denying their motion to dismiss and compel arbitration of the claims brought against them by appellee Patricia Sheffield, as special administrator of the estate of Maylissia Holliman. Courtyard argued: (1) the circuit court erroneously ruled that Johnathan Mitchell, Holliman’s emergency custodian, did not have authority to bind her to the arbitration agreement; and (2) that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable because of the unavailability of the National Arbitration Forum (“NAF”). After review of this matter, the Supreme Court affirmed the court’s ruling that the custodian did not have authority to execute the arbitration agreement. Because the agreement was invalid, the Court did not address appellants' second point. View "Courtyard Gardens Health & Rehab. v. Sheffield" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case were three different versions of an account agreement between Appellees, who are customers of Bank of the Ozarks, and Ozarks, which holds the accounts. The agreements included an arbitration provision. Appellees filed a class-action complaint against Ozarks, and Ozarks filed a motion to compel arbitration. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that the arbitration provision in the account agreement was unconscionable. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a determination as to whether there was a valid agreement to arbitrate. On remand, the circuit court determined that there was not a valid agreement to arbitrate. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in finding that the agreement lacked mutuality of obligation and in thus denying Ozarks’s motion to compel arbitration. View "Bank of the Ozarks, Inc. v. Walker" on Justia Law

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Appellees, former residents of certain nursing homes and special administrators, guardians, or attorneys-in-fact of former residents, filed a class action complaint against Appellants, GGNSC Holdings, LLC and related entities and employees. GGNSC moved to compel arbitration of claims asserted by five particular residents who, at the time of their admission into nursing homes, entered into arbitration agreements. The circuit court ultimately denied arbitration, finding that three of the five arbitration agreements were invalid because they were signed by individuals who lacked authority to agree to arbitrate and that the remaining two agreements were not enforceable to compel arbitration based on the defenses of impossibility of performance and unconscionability. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred by refusing to enforce the valid arbitration agreements based on the defenses of impossibility of performance and unconscionability. Remanded for the entry of an order compelling arbitration. View "GGNSC Holdings, LLC v. Lamb" on Justia Law

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Jessie and Annie Bullock were residents of Courtyard Gardens, a nursing-home facility. Linda Gulley, the Bullocks’ daughter, entered admission agreements and optional arbitration agreements on behalf of each parent. After Jessie died, Malinda Arnold, as personal representative of Jessie’s estate and as attorney-in-fact of Annie, filed a complaint against Courtyard Gardens, alleging, inter alia, negligence and medical malpractice. Courtyard Gardens moved to dismiss the complaint and compel arbitration. The circuit court denied the motion to compel arbitration, concluding that the arbitration agreement was impossible to perform because it selected the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) to serve as arbitrator, and the NAF was no longer in business. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the NAF term was merely an ancillary logistical concern and was severable; and (2) therefore, the circuit court erred in denying Courtyard Gardens’ motion to compel arbitration based on impossibility of performance. View "Courtyard Gardens Health & Rehab. LLC v. Arnold" on Justia Law

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Daimante, LLC was the operator of a golf course that contained two subdivisions. Gary and Linda Dye, property owners within one subdivision, filed a declaratory-judgment complaint seeking a declaration that certain obligations and restrictions were unenforceable. Diamante moved to compel arbitration with the Dyes. The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court’s denial of the motion to compel arbitration, finding that Diamante had waived arbitration by unnecessary delay that prejudiced the Dyes. Class members were subsequently added to the lawsuit upon class certification and filed a second amended motion for declaratory judgment. The circuit court denied Diamante’s motion to compel arbitration based on the court’s previous ruling. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the court of appeals’ decision was not conclusive on the issue of whether Diamante had waived arbitration as to the class members who were subsequently added to the lawsuit, and therefore, this argument does not compel dismissal of this appeal; and (2) because the circuit court did not issue on order as to whether there was a valid agreement to arbitrate between Diamante and the unnamed class members, the case must be reversed for the circuit court to make that determination. View "Diamante LLC v. Dye" on Justia Law

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Entergy Arkansas, Inc. and Entergy Operations, Inc. (collectively, “Entergy”) entered into an agreement with Siemens Energy, Inc. (“Siemens”) under which Siemens was to provide Entergy with services at three nuclear facilities. The agreement included an arbitration provision. Pursuant to the agreement, Entergy and Siemens agreed that Siemens would replace a large component of a generator at Entergy’s Arkansas Nuclear One (“ANO”) facility. Siemens had a separate, long-term agreement with Bigge Crane and Rigging Co. and Claus Frederiksen (collectively, “Bigge”) under which Bigge would prove crane services for Siemens at ANO. After a crane built and operated by Bigge collapsed at ANO, killing one person, injuring ten others, and causing significant damages to ANO, Entergy filed suit against Bigge and others, alleging several tort claims. Bigge moved to compel arbitration of Entergy’s claims against Bigge as a purported third-party beneficiary of the agreement between Entergy and Siemens. The circuit court denied Bigge’s motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in concluding (1) that, under the facts of this case, issues of arbitrability were matters for judicial determination; and (2) that Bigge could not invoke arbitration. View "Bigge Crane & Rigging Co. v. Entergy Ark. Inc." on Justia Law

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Appellee, Peter Rosenow, brought a class-action complaint individually and on behalf of similarly situated persons against Appellants, Alltel Corporation and Alltel Communications, Inc. (collectively, Alltel), alleging violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and unjust enrichment arising from Alltel’s imposition of an early termination fee on its cellular-phone customers. Alltel filed a motion seeking to compel arbitration based on an arbitration clause contained in its “Terms and Conditions.” The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that Alltel’s arbitration provision lacked mutuality. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in finding that a lack of mutuality rendered the instant arbitration agreement invalid.View "Alltel Corp. v. Rosenow" on Justia Law

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Shirley Henry, as special administrator of the Estate of Lucill Betncourt, filed a complaint against a nursing-home facility (Woodland Hills) asserting, among other claims, negligence, medical malpractice, and violations of the Arkansas Long-Term Care Residents’ Act. Woodland Hills moved to dismiss and to compel arbitration of these claims, relying on arbitration clauses found in the admission agreements that Betncourt, Betncourt’s husband, and Henry signed when Betncourt entered the facility eight times in a four-year period. The circuit court denied Woodland Hills’ motion to dismiss and compel arbitration, concluding that mutuality of obligation was lacking. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the arbitration clause offended the law requiring mutuality of obligation and could not be enforced because Woodland Hills reserved the right to litigate billing or collection disputes and thus excluded from arbitration the only claim it might have against a resident.View "Reg'l Care of Jacksonville, LLC v. Henry" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a medical-malpractice action for injuries allegedly sustained by his wife while she was a resident at Defendant’s nursing home. Defendant filed a motion to compel arbitration and for dismissal, asserting that the case was controlled by a valid arbitration agreement. The circuit court entered a general denial order denying the motion to compel arbitration. Defendant subsequently filed a timely motion for specific findings of fact and conclusions of law. The circuit court did not rule on the motion, and it was deemed denied. Defendant appealed. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal as untimely. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals and affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to compel arbitration, holding that the circuit court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to compel arbitration.View "Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Soc’y v. Kolesar" on Justia Law