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8th Circuit Clarifies When a Party Loses Arbitration Rights

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit clarified just when a party loses its arbitration rights in a wrongful termination suit, deciding that rights of an employer were lost when it acted inconsistently with the rights of the opposing party.

Gaming Company on the Hook for $5M to NIGC, 8th Cir. Rules

The Eighth Circuit backed up a lower court decision in finding that Bettor Racing, Inc. had operated its business in violation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and that it was rightfully ordered to pay up $5 million in fines.

If only they'd agree to an earlier offer to make this go away for for $4.5 million ...

In 2009, Dr. Douglas Weiher, a Wisconsin dentist, started to look for a new insurance disability policy. He found it in Northwestern Mutual, but the company made him promise to cancel one of his two previous insurance policies when he signed up. A few years later, Weiher became fully disabled and sought to collect on his policies.

But, it turns out, he had never canceled the earlier policy as promised. That caused Northwestern to rescind his disability insurance, arguing that Weiher's broken promise to cancel an earlier policy was a misrepresentation. Not so, the Eighth Circuit ruled on Tuesday, finding that Northwestern hadn't shown that Weiher's over-insurance increase its risk at the time of the loss.

The NFL Players Association has submitted its briefs to the Eight Circuit regarding the overturned suspension of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson was suspended by the NFL after he was accused of physically abusing his son. A district court reversed that suspension, finding that the NFL's domestic abuse policy was new and couldn't be retroactively applied to actions Peterson took in the past.

The NFL's appeal of that ruling is now currently pending in the Eight Circuit. In their filings, the Players Association -- essentially a union for NFL athletes -- argues, unsurprisingly, that the district court was correct in throwing out Peterson's suspension.

Arbitrator Decides Whether Arbitration Clause Applies: 8th Cir.

Arbitration clauses are everywhere, and we write about them a lot. Whether it's Sirius XM, Indian tribe payday lenders, or cell phone companies, we've seen everything in arbitration cases.

Or so we thought.

Last month, the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld going to arbitration even after a customer was beaten and robbed in his own home by an employee. That's right: Even an incidental tort claim might be governed by the arbitration agreement. This is way worse than American Express charging extra fees.

Ark. Sup. Ct. Strikes Alltel Arbitration Agreement for Non-Mutuality

In AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, the U.S. Supreme Court told us that the Federal Arbitration Act overrides state contract law if a contract contains an arbitration clause. In American Express v. Italian Colors Restaurant, the Court upheld an arbitration agreement's class action waiver even when the cost of arbitrating a federal antitrust claim would exceed the recovery amount.

This approach has it critics. Notably, Judge Richard Posner said that class action waivers effectively eliminate litigation: "The realistic alternative to a class action is not 17 million individual suits, but zero individual suits, as only a lunatic or a fanatic sues for $30."

Looking into my crystal ball, I foresee Alltel Communication v. Rosenow to be the Supreme Court's next class action/arbitration case.

Once in a while you come across a case that brings you back to your first year of law school contracts class. Earlier this month, the Eighth Circuit took us down memory lane when it decided a contracts case, which dealt with the fundamental issue of whether a contract was even formed.

Offer and acceptance, condition precedents and the parol evidence rule are just some of the fundamental contract principles that this case touches upon. As a contracts law nerd, this case was an exciting read, but if you don't share my enthusiasm (thank you Professor Brickman), then perhaps the summary below will suffice.

The Supreme Court recently granted a petition for writ of certiorari for a case originating in the Eighth Circuit. The case is a classic example of a circuit split.

Essentially, the question before the Court is: What is sufficient notice of a rescission request under the Truth in Lending Act? That is, whether a borrower who intends to rescind a loan under the Truth in Lending Act must file a suit in federal court, or whether a letter to the lender is sufficient.

Postnup Does Not Waive Spousal Rights to 401(k), 8th Cir. Says

When you sign a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in which you agree not to be the beneficiary of a 401(k) retirement plan, does that extinguish your spousal rights to it?

To the surprise of divorced couples and family law attorneys alike, the Eighth Circuit has ruled that no, it does not extinguish your rights. You still may have a right to the 401(k).

In its decision, the appeals court ruled that a postnuptial agreement in which each party expressed "irrevocable consent" to a change of beneficiary of the other's retirement plan did not constitute a waiver of the spousal right to benefit from such plans.

Insurance Policy is a Contract: No Paid Premiums, No Benefits

Natasha Dallas made multiple mistakes when filling out the auto-draft payment form for an American General life insurance policy for her father. Alas, the insurance company never received her initial premium. Her father passed away a couple of weeks later. Dallas, who is also an insurance agent for American General, tried to retroactively make the premium payments. Her efforts were rebuffed and her claims denied.

Though we sympathize with her, Dallas' legal case is pretty clear-cut. Basic contract law requires consideration. Insurance policies are contracts. If consideration is never received, there is no contract. Case closed.

Of course, this is an appeals case. No appeals case can be that simple, right?