Articles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation

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Nilene Junker was admitted to the Nichols Center nursing facility after surgery. Junker's daughter, acting with power of attorney, signed an admission agreement on Junker's behalf. The admission agreement contained an arbitration clause. While she was being put in a room, Junker fell and sustained injuries. Junker sued the Nichols Center, and the nursing home filed a motion to compel arbitration. The circuit court denied the motion to compel arbitration. The court ruled from the bench without hearing arguments from the parties, holding that the arbitration agreement was not valid and that the "arbitration agreement must fail because it does not make provision for an arbitrator in the event the parties could not agree." The Nichols Center appealed the denial of its motion to compel arbitration. The Supreme Court reversed, concluding the circuit court erred by denying the motion to compel arbitration on the basis of forum unavailability. "The motion to compel asked the court to determine whether the arbitration agreement was valid and enforceable. The court was not asked to rewrite the terms of the agreement to provide for an arbitrator, but rather to compel Junker to comply with the procedures outlined in the agreement. There must be some attempt by the parties to select an arbitrator; then, if the parties cannot agree, the court may be called on to appoint an arbitrator." The case was remanded for a hearing on the motion to compel and a determination of the validity of the arbitration agreement. "If the arbitration agreement is valid, Junker cannot simply refuse to arbitrate." View "NC Leasing, LLC v. Junker" on Justia Law

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The McTaggarts filed suit against the former trustee and trust advisor of their family trust, alleging improper handling of their trust funds. The former trustee and trust advisor moved to dismiss the case or have the case stayed pending arbitration, based on an arbitration provision in a wealth-management agreement between the former trustee and trust advisor. The trial court found that, because the McTaggarts did not sign the agreement containing the arbitration provision and because the agreement specifically excluded nonsignatories, including third-party beneficiaries, the arbitration provision was not binding on the McTaggarts. The former trustee and trust advisor appealed. Finding no error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Pinnacle Trust Company, L.L.C., EFP Advisors, Inc. v. McTaggart" on Justia Law

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Lacie Smith worked for Express Check Advance of Mississippi, LLC. A condition in her employment papers was that she agreed to submit “any employment-related dispute” to arbitration. Later, in response to her termination, Smith sued Express Check in circuit court. The trial judge compelled arbitration and Smith appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Smith v. Express Check Advance of Mississippi, LLC" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of a fee dispute between associated attorneys arising out of mass-tort cases in Copiah County between 2005 and 2010. The first appeal arose out of a joint-venture agreement between Don Mitchell and the law firm of Sweet & Freeese, PLLC. The second appeal stemmed from an alleged oral referral agreement between McHugh Fuller Law Group, PLLC, and the members of the joint venture. The appellants in this consolidated appeal challenged the County Chancery Court’s denial of their motions to compel arbitration of claims brought against them by Mitchell and the McHugh Fuller Law Group, PLLC. Finding no error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Freese v. Mitchell" on Justia Law

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In consolidated cases, thirty-two plaintiffs who signed delayed-deposit check agreements with Zippy Check Advance agreed that Zippy Check could pursue judicial remedies against them to collect the debt, while any and all of their claims would be relegated to arbitration. The circuit courts found the arbitration agreements to be unconscionable and denied Zippy Check’s motions to compel arbitration. The Court of Appeals affirmed as to one version of the agreement and reversed as to the other. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that both versions of the arbitration agreement were so one-sided that they were substantively unconscionable and unenforceable. The Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the Court of Appeals and affirmed the judgments of the Circuit Court of Clarke County and the Circuit Court of Newton County. View "Caplin Enterprises, Inc. v. Arrington" on Justia Law

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The parties in this case agreed to a compromise to settle an ongoing dispute regarding the ownership of a company while they were actively litigating the issue. The general terms of the compromise were jotted down on a piece of lined writing paper, then submitted to the court with the understanding that a formal typewritten agreement would follow. When a dispute arose as to a provision in the subsequent formal version, the issue was submitted to an arbitrator. The arbitrator found the initial, handwritten agreement, which did not contain a disputed third-party consent clause, to be binding and enforceable. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether the arbitrator’s decision should have been vacated due to his refusal to consider parol evidence of the condition precedent. Finding no statutory grounds to disturb the arbitrator’s decision, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court and the arbitrator. View "Robinson v. Henne" on Justia Law

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Norma Slater-Moore hired the Goeldner Law Firm and its attorneys to represent her in what ultimately was an unsuccessful lawsuit and its appeal. Slater-Moore and Goeldner entered into two separate contracts during the course of that litigation, both containing nearly identical provisions stating that any attorney-fee disputes would be submitted to arbitration. Slater-Moore later sued Goeldner for legal malpractice and breach of contract, disputing, among other allegations, the amount she was billed for attorney fees. Goeldner successfully moved the Circuit Court to compel arbitration of the attorney-fee dispute, and Slater-Moore appealed that decision to the Supreme Court. Because the Supreme Court found ]no grounds for revocation of a valid agreement to arbitrate the fee dispute, the Court affirmed the circuit court's judgment. View "Slater-Moore v. Goeldner" on Justia Law

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The trial court denied defendant Virginia College's motion to compel arbitration. Because the plaintiffs failed to allege sufficient facts to support a claim that they were fraudulently induced to agree to the arbitration provision, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Virginia College, LLC v. Blackmon" on Justia Law

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In a wrongful death action against a nursing home, the nursing home moved to compel arbitration, arguing that the nursing home resident was the third-party beneficiary to the admission and arbitration agreements signed by his sister. The trial court denied the motion, finding that no valid contract was signed by someone with the legal authority to do so, and the nursing home appealed. Because the resident's sister lacked the authority to contract for him, and thus no valid contract existed, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of the motion to compel arbitration. View "GGNSC Batesville, LLC v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs were two shareholders of a closely held corporation. They attempted to tender their shares to the corporation pursuant to a buy-sell agreement. Unhappy with the corporation's purchase offer, the shareholders brought suit in Chancery Court, and the court in turn submitted the matter to binding arbitration as required by the agreement. The chancellor ultimately rejected the arbitrators' valuations and ordered the corporation to buy plaintiffs' shares at a much higher price. The corporation appealed the chancellor's rejection of the arbitrator's award, and plaintiffs cross-appealed claiming they were entitled to additional damages. Finding no legal basis for setting aside the arbitration award, the Supreme Court reversed the Chancery Court and reinstated the arbitration award. View "Bailey Brake Farms, Inc. v. Trout" on Justia Law