Articles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation

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The Tennessee Uniform Trust Code is intended to give trustees broad authority to fulfill their duties as trustee and gives trustees the power to enter into predispute arbitration agreements, so long as doing so is not prohibited under the operative trust instrument. At issue in this interlocutory appeal was whether the signature of the trustee of a trust on an investment/brokerage account agreement that included a provision requiring the arbitration of disputes bound the beneficiary of the trust to the predispute arbitration provision. The Supreme Court held (1) under both the Tennessee Uniform Trust Code and the operative trust instrument, the trustee had authority to enter into the arbitration agreement contained within the account agreement; and (2) applying the principle that a third party who seeks the benefit of a contract must also bear its burdens, the trust beneficiary in this case may be bound to arbitrate claims against the investment broker that sought to enforce the account agreement. The court vacated the trial court order compelling arbitration of all claims and remanded the case to the trial court for a determination as to which, if any, of the claims asserted by the trust beneficiary seek to enforce the account agreement. View "Harvey ex rel. Gladden v. Cumberland Trust & Investment Co." on Justia Law

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Buyer purchased a manufactured home from Sellers. The parties entered into a contract setting forth the terms of the sale and the parties obligations. The contract contained an arbitration provision under which Sellers retained the right to seek relief in a judicial forum for limited purposes. Buyer later brought a breach of contract action against Sellers, and Sellers filed a motion to compel arbitration. The trial court denied the motion to compel, holding that the non-mutuality remedies in the arbitration provision rendered it unconscionable and invalid. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Sellers’ retention of a judicial forum for limited purposes did not render the arbitration agreement unconscionable. View "Berent v. CMH Homes, Inc." on Justia Law

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A law firm filed suit against two former employees. Both defendants filed motions to compel arbitration. The trial court stayed discovery except as to the issue of whether the cases were subject to arbitration. The court subsequently ordered the parties to engage in mediation and to disclose the "necessary documents to conduct a meaningful attempt at resolution" despite the prior order limiting discovery. The defendants filed a motion to vacate the order requiring arbitration, which the trial court and court of appeals denied. The Supreme Court vacated the order of the trial court and remanded for a determination on the motions to compel arbitration, holding that the trial court (1) erred in ordering discovery without limiting the scope of discovery to the issue of arbitrability in contravention of the Tennessee Uniform Arbitration Act; and (2) erred in referring the parties to mediation in an effort to resolve all issues. View "Glassman, Edwards, Wyatt, Tuttle & Cox, P.C. v. Wade" on Justia Law

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An investor pursued a claim against an investment company over losses he incurred due to the failure of some of the company's bond funds. A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration panel ruled in the investor's favor. The investment company subsequently petitioned the chancery court to vacate the award based on the alleged bias of two members of the arbitration panel. The trial court vacated the award and remanded for a second arbitration before a new panel. The court of appeals dismissed the investor's appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the trial court's order did not expressly confirm or deny the arbitration award. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court's order was, in fact, an appealable order "denying confirmation" of an arbitration award under Tenn. Code Ann. 29-5-319(a)(3). Remanded. View "Morgan Keegan & Co. v. Smythe" on Justia Law