Justia U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation
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The case involves the Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) and its affiliates, who sued several medical practices in separate actions in the District of New Jersey. GEICO alleged that the practices defrauded them of more than $10 million by abusing the personal injury protection (PIP) benefits offered by its auto policies. The practices allegedly filed exaggerated claims for medical services, billed medically unnecessary care, and engaged in illegal kickback schemes. GEICO's suits against the practices each included a claim under the New Jersey’s Insurance Fraud Prevention Act (IFPA).The practices sought arbitration of GEICO’s IFPA claim, arguing that a valid arbitration agreement covered the claim and that a different New Jersey insurance law allowed them to compel arbitration. However, each District Court disagreed, ruling instead that IFPA claims cannot be arbitrated. The practices appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.The Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower courts' decisions, holding that claims under the IFPA are arbitrable. The court found that GEICO's argument that the IFPA implicitly prohibits arbitration was not persuasive. The court also concluded that GEICO’s IFPA claims must be compelled to arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), as the claims fell under the scope of the arbitration agreement in GEICO's Precertification and Decision Point Review Plan. The court remanded the case with instructions to compel arbitration of GEICO’s IFPA claims against the practices. View "GEICO v. Caring Pain Management PC" on Justia Law

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The case involves the Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) and its affiliates, who sued several medical practices in separate actions in the District of New Jersey. GEICO alleged that the practices defrauded them of more than $10 million by abusing the personal injury protection (PIP) benefits offered by its auto policies. The practices filed exaggerated claims for medical services, billed medically unnecessary care, and engaged in illegal kickback schemes. GEICO's suits against the practices each included a claim under the New Jersey’s Insurance Fraud Prevention Act (IFPA).The practices sought arbitration of GEICO’s IFPA claim, arguing that a valid arbitration agreement covered the claim and that a different New Jersey insurance law allowed them to compel arbitration. However, each District Court disagreed, ruling instead that IFPA claims cannot be arbitrated. The practices appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.The Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower courts' decisions and compelled arbitration. The court found that the IFPA does not implicitly prohibit arbitration. The court also found that the IFPA claims before them should be compelled to arbitration under a different New Jersey law. Furthermore, the court concluded that GEICO’s IFPA claims must be compelled to arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). The court held that the arbitration agreement in the Plan covers the IFPA claims and therefore, must compel arbitration. The court also addressed practice-specific issues in the Mount Prospect and Precision Spine appeals. The court concluded that the District Court should not have granted GEICO leave to amend its complaint in the Mount Prospect case. In the Precision Spine case, the court held that the District Court abused its discretion by denying Precision Spine’s motion sua sponte because it was addressed to the unamended complaint. View "GEICO v. Mount Prospect Chiropractic Center PA" on Justia Law

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In this case, the plaintiff, Maria Del Rosario Hernandez, filed a lawsuit against MicroBilt Corporation alleging the company violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act after the lender denied her loan application based on inaccurate information provided by a MicroBilt product. MicroBilt moved to compel arbitration based on the terms and conditions that Hernandez agreed to while applying for the loan, which included an arbitration provision. However, Hernandez had already submitted her claims to the American Arbitration Association (AAA) for arbitration.The AAA notified MicroBilt that its agreement with Hernandez was a consumer agreement, which meant the AAA's Consumer Arbitration Rules applied. Applying these rules, the AAA notified MicroBilt that its arbitration provision included a material or substantial deviation from the Consumer Rules and/or Protocol. Specifically, the provision’s limitation on damages conflicted with the Consumer Due Process Protocol, which requires that an arbitrator should be empowered to grant whatever relief would be available in court under law or in equity. After MicroBilt did not waive the damages limitation, the AAA declined to administer the arbitration under Rule 1(d).MicroBilt asked Hernandez to submit her claims to a different arbitrator, but she refused, requesting a hearing before the District Court. She argued that she must now pursue her claims in court because the AAA dismissed the case under Rule 1(d). The District Court reinstated Hernandez’s complaint and granted MicroBilt leave to move to compel arbitration under 9 U.S.C. § 4. However, the District Court denied MicroBilt’s motion to compel, leading to this appeal.The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the lower court's decision, stating that Hernandez had fully complied with MicroBilt’s arbitration provision, which allowed her to pursue her claims in court. The court held that it lacked the authority to compel arbitration. The court rejected MicroBilt's arguments that the AAA administrator improperly resolved an arbitrability issue that should have been resolved by an arbitrator, that the provision’s Exclusive Resolution clause conflicted with Hernandez’s return to court, and that the AAA’s application of the Consumer Due Process Protocol was unreasonable. The court concluded that it lacked the authority to review the AAA’s decision or to sever the damages limitation from the arbitration provision. View "Hernandez v. MicroBilt Corp" on Justia Law

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An Asset Purchase Agreement provided that the sellers could receive variable payments (Earn-Out Consideration) if the post-merger company (IAS) achieved specific benchmarks. Section 2.6(c) specifies that IAS had to provide the sellers with the computation for each period, to become final unless they submitted a “notice of disagreement.” Any disagreement would be settled according to Section 2.3(e),” which refers to resolution by an accounting firm. Section 11.17, however, directs the parties generally to use non-binding mediation, followed by litigation if mediation fails.IAS determined that the company did not meet its targets. The sellers claim that IAS intentionally prevented the company from hitting its targets. Negotiations failed. The sellers sued for breach of contract and tortious interference; later, they filed a notice of disagreement and sought a declaration that the lawsuit was outside the scope of sections 2.3(e) and 2.6(d). IAS sought to compel arbitration under 2.3(e). The district court held that the Agreement contained a valid agreement to arbitrate. An accounting firm subsequently determined that the sellers had no right to Earn-Out Consideration. The district court entered judgment for IAS.The Third Circuit vacated. The Purchase Agreement contains an agreement to submit narrow disputes to an accounting firm for expert determination, not arbitration. Although the statement of IAS’s financial benchmarks becomes final after the expert completes its accounting analysis, the authority to resolve legal questions—like whether IAS violated the duty of good faith— remains with the courts. View "Sapp v. Industrial Action Services LLC" on Justia Law

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Berkelhammer and Ruiz participated in the ADP TotalSource Retirement Savings Plan, an investment portfolio managed by NFP. They filed suit under section 502(a)(2) of the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1132, for their own losses and derivatively on behalf of the Plan. The Plan’s contract with NFP contained an agreement to arbitrate disputes between the two entities. Berkelhammer and Ruiz argued that since they did not personally agree to arbitrate, the arbitration provision did not reach their claims. The district court disagreed, holding that Berkelhammer and Ruiz stand in the Plan’s contractual shoes and must accept the terms of the Plan’s contract.The Third Circuit affirmed. Civil actions under section 502(a)(2) “for breach of fiduciary duty [are] brought in a representative capacity on behalf of the plan as a whole” to “protect contractually defined benefits.” Because the plaintiffs’ claims belong to the Plan, the Plan’s consent to arbitrate controls. The presence or absence of the individual claimants’ consent to arbitration is irrelevant. View "Berkelhammer v. ADP TotalSource Group Inc." on Justia Law

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Henry participated in an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) sponsored by his employer. After the ESOP purchased stock at what Henry believed was an inflated price, Henry filed a lawsuit against the plan’s trustee and executives of his employer, alleging that the defendants breached fiduciary duties to the ESOP imposed by the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001, and engaged in transactions prohibited by ERISA. The defendants argued that an arbitration provision, added to the ESOP’s plan documents after Henry joined the ESOP, barred Henry from pursuing his claims in federal court. The district court denied their motion to dismiss, reasoning that all parties to an arbitration agreement must manifest assent to the agreement, and Henry did not manifest his assent to the addition of an arbitration provision to the ESOP plan document.The Third Circuit affirmed, first confirming its jurisdiction. The motion to dismiss was effectively a motion to compel arbitration, 9 U.S.C. 16(a) provides appellate jurisdiction to review the denial of that motion. The class action waiver (and, by extension, the arbitration provision as a whole) is not enforceable because it requires him to waive statutory rights and remedies guaranteed by ERISA. View "Henry v. Wilmington Trust NA" on Justia Law

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Current or former Uber drivers from different states agreed to Uber’s “Technology Services Agreement” as a condition of using Uber’s platform. The agreement requires drivers to resolve disputes with Uber on an individual basis through final and binding arbitration. Drivers may opt-out by sending Uber an email or letter. Singh’s class action alleged Uber had violated New Jersey wage and hour laws by misclassifying drivers as independent contractors, failing to pay them the minimum wage, and failing to reimburse them for business expenses. Calabrese’s class action, which was joined to Singh’s, sought to proceed collectively under the Fair Labor Standards Act.The district court ruled in Uber’s favor, compelling arbitration, having defined the relevant class as Uber drivers nationwide. The court found that interstate "rides constitute just 2% of all rides, resemble in character the other 98% of rides, and likely occur due to the happenstance of geography” for purposes of the exception in the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) for arbitration agreements contained in the “contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce,” 9 U.S.C. 1. The Third Circuit affirmed. The drivers' work is centered on local transportation. Most Uber drivers have never made an interstate trip. When Uber drivers do cross state lines, they do so only incidentally. They are not “engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.” View "Singh v. Uber Technologies, Inc" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, owners of Samsung SmartTVs, filed a putative class action in 2017, alleging that the SmartTVs used automatic tracking software to collect personally identifying information about them, such as the videos or streaming services they watch, and transmit that data to third-parties, who allegedly used the information to display targeted advertisements. When setting up their SmartTVs, plaintiffs had to agree to Terms and Conditions to access the Internet-enabled services. On some SmartTVs, the Terms and Conditions contained an arbitration provision. In 2018, the plaintiffs disclosed the Model Numbers for the named plaintiffs' SmartTVs, which enabled Samsung to determine whether they agreed to Terms containing an arbitration clause.The district court dismissed all except for the Wiretap Act claims. In 2020, Samsung notified the court that it would move to compel individual arbitration, arguing that it did not waive its right to arbitrate because “the prerequisites of waiver— extensive discovery and prejudice—are lacking.” The Third Circuit affirmed the denial of the motion. Samsung waived its right to arbitrate and compelling arbitration would cause the plaintiffs to suffer significant prejudice. Samsung’s actions evinced a preference for litigation over arbitration. Samsung continuously sought and agreed to stays in discovery and pursued successful motions to dismiss on the merits. It assented to all pre-trial orders and participated in numerous court conferences. View "White v. Samsung Electronics America Inc." on Justia Law

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Angle served as the exclusive U.S. distribution agent for Jiangsu, a Chinese manufacturer..Jiangsu claims that, as of June 2018, Angle owed it $1.3 million. Under a June 2018 memorandum of understanding, Angle agreed to pay Jiangsu $528,227.59 within six months. The MOU did not contain an arbitration clause. In July, Jiangsu sent Angle a revised agreement, under which the parties agreed to submit any dispute to the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) with a revised payment schedule. Angle never signed the July MOU. The parties agreed to a payment schedule, without reference to either MOU. Jiangsu repeatedly asked Angle to forward the “signed agreement.” Angle did not make all of the agreed payments. Jiangsu initiated arbitration. Angle objected to CIETAC’s jurisdiction. The Chinese Court found that the July MOU and its arbitration clause were enforceable. The CIETAC arbitration panel independently determined that the July MOU was enforceable under the U.N. Convention on the International Sale of Goods and Chinese law and ordered Angle to pay $624,227.59.Jiangsu sought to enforce its award in the United States under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. The Third Circuit vacated the dismissal of Jiangsu’s confirmation petition. While the district court was not bound by the decisions of Chinese tribunals and Angle did not waive its right to contest enforcement, the district court should make an independent determination as to arbitrability. View "Jiangsu Beier Decoration Materials Co., Ltd. v. Angle World LLC" on Justia Law

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Xylem, which sells large-capacity water pumps, requested that Field develop hardware to interface with the pumps and computer software for monitoring and controlling the equipment. A 2013 “NonDisclosure Agreement” contained an arbitration provision. Xylem purchased the units from Field via written Purchase Orders and purchased monthly subscriptions that permitted Xylem’s customers to use Field’s software via cellular networks to monitor and control their Xylem pumps. There was no written agreement governing Xylem’s software subscription purchases until the 2017 “Software Subscription Service Agreement,” which contained an “integration clause” stating that “[t]his Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties with respect to its subject matter and supersedes any and all prior or contemporaneous understandings or agreements.” The 2017 contract contained no arbitration provision, instead requiring any “action under or concerning” that contract to be litigated in New Jersey. Xylem began building its own hardware.Field sued, in New Jersey, for breach of the 2017 contract. In discovery, Xylem sent Field an interrogatory asking whether it intended to rely on the 2013 contract to support any of its claims. Field responded that Xylem breached the 2013 contract by its actions. Xylem then filed an arbitration demand. The district court held that the 2017 agreement superseded the earlier contract, eliminating any duty to arbitrate. The Third Circuit vacated in part. The district court was authorized to determine whether the second agreement superseded the first but the first agreement was not superseded. View "Field Intelligence Inc v. Xylem Dewatering Solutions Inc" on Justia Law