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BMD Appellate Win Clarifies Waiver of Contractual Right to Arbitrate

Brennan, Manna & Diamond, LLC attorneys David M. Scott, Lucas K. Palmer, and Krista D. Warren prevailed before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit regarding if/when a party waives a contractual right to arbitrate. Borror Property Management, LLC v. Oro Karric North, LLC, No. 20-3146 (the “Decision”).

BMD clients Oro Karric North, LLC and its affiliates (collectively, “Oro”) entered into a property management agreement with Borror Property Management, LLC (“Borror”), in which Borror agreed to manage several apartment properties owned by Oro. The property management agreement stated that, “[i]f either party shall notify the other that any matter is to be determined by arbitration,” the parties would proceed to arbitration unless the matter could be resolved.

Oro came to believe that Borror breached the management agreement, so Oro sent various correspondence and demand letters to Borror prior to filing suit/arbitration (what Judge Readler, author of the Decision, describes as the “legal equivalent of a shot across the bow”). Oro went so far as to threaten litigation. Borror declined to compromise and instead filed suit against Oro in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Oro promptly moved to compel arbitration, but the District Court denied, holding that Oro’s pre-suit threat to litigate constituted a waiver of Oro’s contractual right to require arbitration. Oro appealed.

On appeal, Borror argued that the District Court was correct in deeming Oro’s pre-litigation letters to constitute a waiver of its contractual right to arbitrate. But the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals notes that strong public policy considerations favor arbitration, and “the exchange of letters between parties as a prelude to more formal dispute resolution is a time-honored tradition.” Further noting that Oro almost immediately moved to compel arbitration after the suit was filed, the Sixth Circuit holds that Borror was not prejudiced and sending a pre-suit “posturing” letter does not constitute a waiver.

Takeaway: This significant precedent has already been cited as authoritative in numerous decisions regarding if/when parties waive the right to arbitrate. Knowing how far one may push in negotiations can make the difference between resolution or impasse and help a party control its own destiny in a conflict scenario.

For any litigation or arbitration questions, please contact Litigation Member David Scott at dmscott@bmdllc.com.

Changes to Physician Assistant Statutes in Florida

In the last year, there have been many changes to the scope of practice and collaboration/supervision requirements for advanced practice providers such as APRNs and physician assistants in the state of Florida. In a previous Client Alert we discussed House Bill 607, which expanded the autonomous practice of APRNs providing primary care services in Florida.

Ohio Senate Bill 49 – Ohio Expands Lien Rights for Design Professionals

Effective September 30, 2021, Ohio granted limited lien rights to design professionals, including architects, landscape architects, engineers, and surveyors. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 49 into law on July 1, 2021. This new law established a statutory right to lien commercial real estate by Ohio design professionals who, until now, could not file a lien for non-payment of professional services. Senator Vernon Sykes, a primary sponsor of Senate Bill 49, stated that the “legislation ensures that architects, engineers and other designers will get paid for their work, regardless of the outcome of their projects . . . It will support hardworking Ohioans by protecting the value of their labor . . ..”

Primary Care Practice Officially Defined in Florida for APRNs Practicing Autonomously

As many providers in Florida are aware, House Bill 607 (the “Bill”), which was passed in February of last year, gives certain APRNs in Florida the ability to practice autonomously. The only catch is that they must work in primary practice. When the Bill was initially passed, there was question as to what was exactly considered primary care, absent a definition from the Florida Board of Nursing. However, as of February 25, 2021, “primary care practice” has officially been defined.

Part II of the No Surprises Act

The Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) published Part II of the No Surprises Act on September 30, 2021, which will take effect on January 1, 2022. The new guidance, in large part, focuses on the independent dispute resolution process that was briefly mentioned in Part I of the Act. In addition, there is now guidance on good faith estimate requirements, the patient-provider dispute resolution processes, and added external review provisions.

Safer Federal Workforce Task Force - Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors

The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force has issued its Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors (Guidance). Note that the Guidance applies only to “covered contracts,” which are contracts that include the clause (Clause) set forth in Sec. 2(a) of Executive Order 14042 (Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors). The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (FARC) is to conduct rulemaking and take related action to ensure that the Clause is incorporated into federal contracts. Until that happens, federal contractors likely will not see the Clause in its contracts. Following is a broad summary of the Guidance.