Carlton Fields

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia recently denied attempts by reinsurers to avoid a suit by moving to have the claims against them dismissed or, in the alternative, seeking to compel arbitration or stay the case pending a related arbitration.

Vantage Commodities Financial Services I, LLC sued various reinsurers. The court dismissed Vantage’s breach of contract claim but allowed Vantage to file an amended complaint in which it alleged breach of implied contract, promissory estoppel, and unjust enrichment claims. The reinsurers moved to dismiss those claims. They argued that express agreements foreclosed the claim that there was a breach of an implied contract. The court disagreed. It noted that Vantage was not a party to any agreement with the reinsurers. Thus, the court also rejected the reinsurers’ claim that Vantage’s claim was untimely under an agreement.

In the alternative, the reinsurers sought to compel arbitration. Because Vantage and the reinsurers were not parties to an agreement with Vantage, however, the court concluded that the parties had not agreed to arbitrate disputes under arbitration clauses in a related agreement.

The court then rejected the reinsurers’ request that Vantage revise its amended complaint, reasoning that the complaint was not unduly vague or ambiguous. Finally, the court denied the reinsurers’ request for a stay pending ongoing arbitration. The court recognized that there were “overlapping factual issues common to both the arbitration and [the] litigation,” but found that overlap was insufficient to justify a stay and that it would not be in anyone’s interest to allow the “case to languish” during a pending arbitration of undetermined length.

Vantage Commodities Fin. Servs. I, LLC v. Assured Risk Transfer PCC, LLC, No. 1:17-cv-01451 (TNM) (D.D.C. Apr. 26, 2019).