Articles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation

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In this, the second appeal arising out of a lawsuit against Westgate Resorts alleging violations of the Utah Pattern of Unlawful Activity Act, Westgate challenged an arbitration panel’s award of attorney fees to Shawn Adel and Consumer Protection Group, LLC (collectively, CPG). In the first appeal, the Supreme Court confirmed the panel’s award of damages against Westgate. Here, Westgate argued, inter alia, that the arbitration panel had no authority to award attorney fees for the court proceedings that confirmed the panel’s decision on the merits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the panel’s award of fees for court proceedings confirming the panel’s own decisions is void because the Utah Uniform Arbitration Act does not authorize attorney fees for such proceedings; (2) the Utah Pattern of Unlawful Activity Act allows the panel’s award of attorney fees expended during arbitration; and (3) CPG is entitled to attorney fees for this appeal. View "Westgate Resorts, Ltd. v. Adel" on Justia Law

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The litigation surrounding this appeal has lasted more than a decade. Watergate Resorts first sued Shaun Adel and Consumer Protection Group, LLC (together, CPG) for breach of contract. CPG counterclaimed for fraud under the Utah Pattern of Unlawful Activity Act (UPUAA). An arbitration panel decided the UPUAA claims in CPG’s favor, but, claiming bias, Westgate moved the district court to vacate the panel’s decision. The court granted the motion. The Supreme Court reversed and confirmed the arbitration panel’s award of damages against Westgate. On remand, the arbitration panel awarded attorney fees to CPG. The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) the panel’s award of fees for the the court proceedings confirming the panel’s decisions on the merits is void; but (2) the panel’s award of attorney fees expended during arbitration is allowed, and CPG is entitled to attorney fees for this appeal. View "Westgate v. Adel" on Justia Law

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In this personal injury action arising out of an automobile accident, Robert and Terri Zeller filed a complaint against Charlotte Nixon alleging claims for negligence and loss of consortium. The Zellers submitted their claims for arbitration under Utah Code 31A-22-321, which provides that the election of arbitration stands unless a notice of rescission is filed within ninety days. After the ninety-day rescission period had passed, the Zellers moved to amend their complaint to add a claim for negligent entrustment against Nixon & Nixon, Inc. Nixon opposed the motion to amend and filed a motion to compel arbitration. The district court denied the motion to compel arbitration, concluding that the Zellers were justified in seeking the amendment, thus freeing the Zellers of the statutory limitations on their claims against Nixon and allowing their claims to proceed against Nixon & Nixon. The Supreme Court (1) reversed as to the claims against Nixon, as those claims were irretrievably subject to arbitration given the Zellers’ failure to rescind their election of arbitration within ninety days; and (2) affirmed as to the claims against Nixon & Nixon, holding that the Zellers’ earlier election of arbitration as to their claim against Nixon did not encompass their subsequent claim against the corporation. View "Zeller v. Nixon" on Justia Law

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While employed with Employer, Employee agreed to arbitrate any disputes arising from his employment. Employee's employment was later terminated. Employee filed a charge of discrimination with the Utah Anti-Discrimination and Labor Division of the Utah Labor Commission (UALD), alleging that Employer discriminated against him, retaliated against him, and harassed him. The UALD dismissed Employee's discrimination claims. Employee appealed to the Utah Labor Commission. The district court subsequently granted Employer's motion to compel arbitration and ordered Employee to submit to arbitration. The Supreme Court vacated the order compelling arbitration, holding that the district court erred in compelling arbitration because the plain language of the arbitration clause in Employee's employment contract allowed him to pursue administrative remedies prior to submitting to arbitration.View "Zions Mgmt. Servs. v. Record" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case were two agreements: a ground lease agreement between ASC Utah, Inc. (ASCU) and Wolf Mountain Resorts, and a specifically planned area (SPA) development agreement, which had thirty-six signatories, including ASCU, Wolf Mountain, the D.A. Osguthorpe Family Partnership (Osguthorpe). ASCU and Wolf Mountain began litigating claims involving both the ground lease and the SPA agreement. Shortly thereafter, Osguthorpe sued ASCU and Wolf Mountain, alleging that each party had breached a land-lease agreement distinct from the ground lease or the SPA agreement. The district court consolidated Osguthorpe's separate actions into ASCU's litigation. Osguthorpe later moved to compel arbitration on all the claims related to the SPA agreement, including the claims between ASCU and Wolf Mountain, to which Osguthrope was not a party. The district court denied Osguthrope's motion. Osguthrope withdrew its SPA claims from the case, leaving for appeal only Osguthrope's motion to compel arbitration of the SPA claims between ASCU and Wolf Mountain. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the disputes for which Osguthrope sought to compel arbitration were not subject to the SPA agreement's arbitration provision; and (2) furthermore, as a non-party to the disputes, Osguthrope had no contractual right to compel their arbitration. View "Osguthorpe v. Wolf Mountain Resorts, L.C." on Justia Law

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This case arose out of collective bargaining negotiations between the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) and Local 382 of the Amalgamated Transit Union (Union). Those negotiations came to a standstill in 2009 when the parties entered into arbitration and litigation to resolve their disputes. The district court granted UTA's partial motion for summary judgment in the ensuing litigation, and the Union appealed. Before the matter could be addressed on appeal, however, the arbitrator entered a binding ruling largely in favor of the Union. With this ruling in hand, the parties once again entered into negotiations and successfully hammered out a new collective bargaining agreement. The Supreme Court dismissed the Union's appeal because the dispute had been resolved and the case was moot. View "Utah Transit Auth. v. Local 382 of Amalgamated Transit Union" on Justia Law

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This appeal was rooted in a dispute over an arbitration award. Each party had selected an arbitrator, and a third neutral arbitrator was selected by the two party-appointed arbitrators. Appellee argued that the award should be vacated because one of the party-appointed arbitrators did not disclose that he was first cousins with one of the shareholders in the opposing counsel's law firm. The district court granted Appellee's motion to vacate arbitration award. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) under section 129 of the Utah Uniform Arbitration Act (UUAA), there is no appeal of right from a district court order denying confirmation of an arbitration award, vacating the award, and directing a rehearing; (2) party-appointed arbitrators are held to the disclosure standards of the UUAA and not the standards that apply to neutral arbitrators; and (3) the UUAA does not support vacatur in this case, as (i) under subsection 113(4) of the UUAA, the failure to disclose a relationship can support vacatur only if it also meets one of the provisions outlined in subsection 124(1)(b) of the UUAA; and (ii) none of those provisions was shown in this case. View "WestGate Resorts, Ltd. v. Adel" on Justia Law