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Articles Tagged with Arbitrability

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In the January 23, 2020 edition of The Legal Intelligencer Edward T. Kang, managing member of KHF wrote “Beyond the Courts: The Potential Future of Arbitration

This recent decision has implications for how practitioners understand the court system and arbitration system to usually work, as well as raising already-existent questions about the fairness of arbitration clauses and its applicability for various types of claims.

In a recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, we saw a rare event—the court affirmed the district court’s decision to vacate an arbitration award in Monongahela Valley Hospital v. United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO, CLC, ___F.3d___ (3d Cir. Dec. 30, 2019). This case exemplified one of the rare situations in which the courts have decided to exercise authority and “correct” arbitration awards that have appeared to be blatantly unfair, which could arise from a variety of reasons. This recent decision has implications for how practitioners understand the court system and arbitration system to usually work, as well as raising already-existent questions about the fairness of arbitration clauses and its applicability for various types of claims.

Monongahela Valley Hospital involved a dispute between the hospital and one of its “bargaining unit” employees who are members of the union under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). About half of the employees of the hospital are supervisors who are not bargaining unit employees. The CBA governed the relationship between the hospital and the bargaining unit employees. The grievances centered around the hospital’s denial of a unit bargaining employee’s request for vacation due to a non-unit bargaining employee’s request for the same time off. The hospital denied the unit bargaining employee’s request because her supervisor, a nonbargaining unit employee, had requested the same week off and both could not be away at the same time. Using its authority to have the “final” say in the matter, the hospital denied the bargaining unit employee’s request. Continue reading →

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In the January 24, 2019 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Edward Kang, Managing Member of KHF wrote “US Supreme Court Settles the ‘Wholly Groundless’ Exception. Or Has It?

In a recent article I co-authored, I discussed the “wholly groundless” exception to delegation clauses under the Federal Arbitration Act, “Should an Arbitrator Determine Arbitrability Where a Claim Is ‘Wholly Groundless’?” The Legal Intelligencer (July 26, 2018). There, I discussed the circuit split on this issue and that the U.S. Supreme Court would soon decide this issue for good. And the court has.

On Jan. 8, writing for a unanimous court in his first written opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh held that the wholly groundless exception to arbitrability is inconsistent with the FAA and, therefore, no such exception exists, see Henry Schein v. Archer & White Sales, ___ S.Ct. ___, 2019 WL 122164 (Jan. 8, 2019). The court held “when the parties’ contract delegates the arbitrability question to an arbitrator, a court may not override the contract, even if the court thinks that the arbitrability claim is wholly groundless.” In concluding this, the court stated, “the act contains no ‘wholly groundless’ exception, and we may not engraft our own exceptions onto the statutory text.”

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While arbitration clauses are often a topic of concern in the consumer context, they can also be a major issue in sophisticated party transactions as well—the agreements where the arbitration clause is the least of everyone’s worries. In these transactions, whether they be in the employment context or otherwise, arbitration clauses are often treated as a throwaway for which a simple copy-and-paste will do. At that forward-looking time, arbitration seems like a sensible method of dispute resolution between two like-minded people, and it is given little emphasis. When the relationships break down later, as they often do, arbitration clauses become a major issue. Too often, one side wants to be in court while the other does not. They argue whether their dispute is subject to arbitration.

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