Federal Court Refuses To Compel Arbitration or Appoint Arbitrators Where No Party Had Refused To Arbitrate and Both Parties Were Working on Selecting Arbitrators

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A federal court recently refused to compel arbitration after it concluded that there had been no refusal to arbitrate. The court also refused to appoint arbitrators for the parties.

Linda L. Allen claimed Horter Investment Management, LLC’s “representatives sold fraudulent and unregistered investments.” She claimed those claims were subject to arbitration pursuant to a clause in a client agreement that provided that “[c]lient and [a]dvisor both agree that all controversies which may arise between them concerning any transaction or construction, performance or breach of this agreement that cannot be settled, be submitted to binding arbitration.”

Allen and her fellow plaintiffs moved to compel arbitration or, in the alternative, for the appointment of arbitrators. Horter responded that the plaintiffs lacked standing because it had not refused to arbitrate and was participating in the selection of arbitrators.

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (Western Division) agreed with Horter. Although the plaintiffs “initiated arbitration with the AAA, but the AAA declined to administer the clams because of [Horter’s] past actions,” the court did “not find that [Horter’s] acts amount to an unequivocal refusal to arbitrate. Instead, Defendant has expressly acknowledged the agreement to arbitrate. The parties have been working together in the Bruns case and this case to reach an agreement regarding the selection of arbitrators. The Court notes that some of the delay in this process is attributable to Plaintiffs’ change in position regarding consolidated arbitration.” The court also declined to appoint arbitrators because “[b]oth parties are amenable to private arbitration and the names of specific arbitrators have been exchanged.”

Linda L. Allen, et al. v. Horter Investment Management, LLC (S.D. Oh. Sept. 30 2020).

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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