WHETHER CONSUMER AGREED TO ARB IS GATEWAY ISSUE FOR COURT

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WHETHER CONSUMER AGREED TO ARB IS GATEWAY ISSUE FOR COURT

Postby Administrator » Tue Sep 30, 2014 11:14 am

WHETHER CONSUMER AGREED TO ARB IS GATEWAY ISSUE FOR COURT

Where the dispute between the parties involves the “gateway,” that is, whether an agreement to arbitrate exists at all, the authority of a federal court to interject itself is large. Howsam v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 537 U.S. 79, 84, 123 S.Ct. 588, 154 L.Ed.2d 491 (2002). See also MCI Telecomms. Corp. v. Exalon Indus., Inc., 138 F.3d 426, 428 (1st Cir.1998) (“[T]here is no general legal duty to arbitrate private commercial disputes; instead, such proceedings are strictly the product of voluntary contractual obligations.”); Wolf v. Gruntal & Co., Inc., 45 F.3d 524, 528 (1 st Cir.1995) (any exercise of arbitral authority over claims uncovered by an arbitration agreement is without the consent of the parties, and is therefore an invalid exercise). If a party disputes the existence of an agreement to arbitrate, its remedy (not resorted to by the Hospital) is straightforward—it can refuse to participate in the proceedings and raise the nonexistence of the agreement in a confirmation of award hearing. Id. at 430. If, as is the case here, the issue is the extent of a conceded to be extant arbitration agreement, the rule is quite the reverse. “[A]ny doubts concerning the scope of arbitrable issues should be resolved in favor of arbitration, whether the problem at hand is the construction of the contract language itself or an allegation of waiver, delay, or a like defense to arbitrability.” Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler–Plymouth, Inc., 473 U.S. 614, 626, 105 S.Ct. 3346, 87 L.Ed.2d 444 (1985), quoting Moses H. Cone, 460 U.S. at 24–25.FN2


FN2. The Hospital also argues that the arbitrator based his decision on a document—the CLPB—that was not physically a part of the integrated CBA. The argument is without force. It was well within the arbitrator's authority to determine that the CLPB was incorporated into the CBA through Section 11.3 and Appendix G, and he therefore did not rely on agreements outside of the CBA to make his decision.

Cape Cod Hosp. v. 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
Slip Copy, 2012 WL 768203
D.Mass.,2012.
March 09, 2012
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