Articles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting Matthew Eastwick’s application to confirm an arbitration award and denying Cate Street Capital, Inc.’s competing motion to vacate that award after concluding that the parties had agreed to arbitrate any disputes arising from a settlement agreement. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the agreement contained clear contractual language of the parties’ intent to submit disputes to the mediator for binding arbitration; and (2) although the parties’ confidentiality had been compromised by the litigation, the court’s judgment incorporated the final agreement without ordering acceleration of those payments not yet due and without modifying any of its terms, including the agreement’s confidentiality provision. View "Eastwick v. Cate Street Capital, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this dispute concerning the rights and obligations of Appellants pursuant to a pipeline capacity agreement they had with Appellee, the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the business and consumer docket denying Appellants’ application to vacate several arbitration awards pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 5938(1)(C). The court held that, contrary to Appellants’ argument on appeal, the arbitrator did not exceed his authority pursuant to the statute because the arbitration awards did not directly contradict the language of the agreement or constitute a manifest disregard for the terms of the agreement. View "XPress Natural Gas, LLC v. Woodland Pulp, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, who was injured when the car she was driving was rear-ended by an underinsured motorist, claimed uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and medical payments coverage under two State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company policies. An arbitration panel found that the accident caused Plaintiff $378,000 in damages, $125,000 of which were identified as medical costs. The parties' dispute regarding the extent of coverage available to Plaintiff proceeded to trial. The superior court determined that only one of the State Farm policies covered Plaintiff, deferred to the arbitration award as to Plaintiffs' actual damages, established the amount owed by State Farm, and reduced the arbitration award accordingly. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding (1) the superior court correctly determined that only one of the policies covered Plaintiff, but (2) the court’s decision regarding the amount due under that policy was in error. Remanded. View "Graf v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Susan Berube was terminated from her employment with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for having alcohol on her breath while meeting with a client. The Maine State Employees Association, SEIU Local 1989 (MSEA) initiated the grievance process, which included an arbitration proceeding, on Berube’s behalf. The arbitrator entered an award reinstating Berube to her employment position. The State and the DHHS filed a motion to vacate the arbitration award. The superior court denied the motion. On appeal, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded with instructions to vacate the arbitration award, holding that the arbitrator exceeded her powers by determining that the grievance was arbitrable because the arbitration request was filed after the deadline established in the collective bargaining agreement. View "State v. Maine State Employees Ass’n" on Justia Law

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In 2012, GNP Parent, LLC entered into a sales agreement to purchase compressed natural gas from Xpress Natural Gas, LLC as fuel for the Great Northern Paper Mill. Cate Street Capital, Inc., the corporate owner of GNP, guaranteed the amounts payable by GNP up to $1,500,000. GNP failed to make the required payments for natural gas, and an arbitrator found Cate Street liable to Xpress for $1,500,000 on the guarantee. Xpress applied to the superior court to confirm the arbitration award. Cate Street and GNP moved to vacate the award in part, arguing that the arbitrator exceeded his authority in awarding Xpress $1,500,000 in damages on the guarantee of payments. The superior court entered a judgment confirming the award and denying the motion to vacate the award. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the arbitrator did not exceed his authority in this case because his interpretation was rationally derived from the sales agreement. View "Xpress Natural Gas, LLC v. Cate St. Capital, Inc." on Justia Law

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A district elementary school principal interpreted an educational policy to mean that elementary school teachers were expected to be present in their classrooms ten minutes before the start of the instructional day. The Coastal Education Association, an affiliate of a union representing teachers, filed a grievance with Regional School District Unit No. 5 (RSU No. 5) challenging the principal’s interpretation as a violation of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the Association and the Board of Directors of RSU No. 5. An arbitrator concluded that the principal’s directive violated the CBA and directed RSU No. 5 to rescind the educational policy. RSU No. 5 filed an application to vacate the arbitration award. The superior court granted the application, concluding that the dispute was not substantively arbitrable pursuant to the Municipal Public Employees Labor Relations Law, which prevents school boards from bargaining on matters of educational policy or submitting educational policy disputes to interest arbitration. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in concluding that the educational policy at issue in this case was, as a matter of law, not substantively arbitrable. View "Reg’l Sch. Unit No. 5 v. Coastal Educ. Ass’n" on Justia Law

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A district elementary school principal interpreted an educational policy to mean that elementary school teachers were expected to be present in their classrooms ten minutes before the start of the instructional day. The Coastal Education Association, an affiliate of a union representing teachers, filed a grievance with Regional School District Unit No. 5 (RSU No. 5) challenging the principal’s interpretation as a violation of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the Association and the Board of Directors of RSU No. 5. An arbitrator concluded that the principal’s directive violated the CBA and directed RSU No. 5 to rescind the educational policy. RSU No. 5 filed an application to vacate the arbitration award. The superior court granted the application, concluding that the dispute was not substantively arbitrable pursuant to the Municipal Public Employees Labor Relations Law, which prevents school boards from bargaining on matters of educational policy or submitting educational policy disputes to interest arbitration. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in concluding that the educational policy at issue in this case was, as a matter of law, not substantively arbitrable. View "Reg’l Sch. Unit No. 5 v. Coastal Educ. Ass’n" on Justia Law

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James Stanley, Barbara Stanley and Northeast Marine Services, Inc. (collectively, “Stanley”) were parties to a binding arbitration with Michael Liberty and five corporations under his control (“the Liberty corporate entities”) regarding contractual and fiduciary disputes arising from Stanley’s tenure as an officer and director of the Liberty corporate entities. Many of Stanley’s claims were rejected, but the three main issues relevant to this appeal were decided in favor of Stanley. The business and consumer docket affirmed the arbitration award in full. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) in challenging the arbitrator’s findings that Stanley had not engaged in a breach of fiduciary duty regarding transactions involving the Liberty corporate corporate entities, Liberty and the Liberty corporate entities asked the court to review fact-findings by the arbitrator, and such findings were not reviewable; (2) Liberty and the Liberty corporate entities did not demonstrate that the arbitrator exceeded his broad authority in interpreting the retirement contract that generated this litigation; and (3) the arbitrator did not exceed his authority by deciding to pierce the corporate veil and make Liberty personally liable for obligations of his closely-controlled corporations. View "Stanley v. Liberty" on Justia Law

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From 2002 to 2012, Defendant leased from Plaintiff business premises located in Portland. In 2012, Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that Defendant had breached certain provisions in the written lease. Defendant counterclaimed, alleging that Plaintiff had failed to perform certain repairs required by the lease. The parties went to mediation on their dispute and reached a settlement agreement through that mediation. Defendant later moved to amend its original counterclaim to add a second count for breach of the settlement agreement. The superior court concluded that the counterclaim seeking to enforce the settlement was moot because Plaintiff signed an agreement reflecting all of the terms of the settlement reached through mediation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Plaintiff executed a general release that complied with the agreement reached through mediation, the superior court correctly determined that Defendant’s motion for summary judgment on its counterclaim seeking to enforce the settlement agreement was moot. View "2301 Congress Realty, LLC v. Wise Bus. Forms, Inc." on Justia Law

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Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC filed a complaint seeking a judgment of foreclosure against John and Cheryl Bartlett, alleging that the Bartletts had defaulted on a note secured by a mortgage on their home. After Bayview failed to appear at three mediation sessions, the district court dismissed Bayview’s complaint with prejudice, concluding that dismissal was the only appropriate sanction in light of Bayview’s pattern of disruptive behavior. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing Bayview’s action with prejudice, as the district court understood the gravity of the sanction it was imposing, did not improperly rely on the Bartletts’ motions to dismiss, and correctly weighed the applicable facts in making its decision.View "Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC v. Bartlett" on Justia Law