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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.

COVID, Privacy and More! New Challenges for Physicians in 2021

While hopefully we are coming out of the pandemic, the legal repercussions related to legislative initiatives and other actions during that time continue to apply to businesses in general and healthcare practices. It is a helpful reminder that practices make certain that they maintain accurate records in order to satisfy the reporting requirements under the various COVID-related bills and protect yourself from future employment claims.

Banking and Cannabis: Bank Lending, The Next Frontier

A fortuitous combination of developments and circumstances present the banking and cannabis industries a large opportunity to enhance each of their respective bottom lines: conventional bank lending, payment processing, treasury management and other services, and bank administered SBA and revenue bond financing to cannabis businesses.

EKRA Updates: COVID-19 Testing, Employment Agreements, and More

Ever since the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act (“EKRA”) was passed by Congress in 2018, we have been waiting to see how the law is interpreted and ultimately enforced. As a reminder, EKRA seeks to eliminate kickbacks in return for patient referrals to facilities that treat those overcoming addiction, such as recovery homes, clinical treatment centers, and laboratories. (NOTE: EKRA applies to all laboratories, not just those related to addiction treatment.) It is essentially an expansion of the Anti-Kickback Statute, which only applies to those services that are reimbursable through federal healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, to now also cover services reimbursable through private insurers.

New Interpretation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Rocks the Industry

It’s not lost on us that our interpretation of § 1692c(b) runs the risk of upsetting the status quo in the debt-collection industry. This quote from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal in its April 21, 2021 opinion from the case of Hunstein v. Preferred Collection and Management Services, Inc. is possibly the biggest understatement in the history of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. At a minimum, the Eleventh Circuit’s opinion has sent shockwaves and fear throughout multiple sectors of the financial services industry.

Construction Industry Trends and Predictions Through 2021 and Beyond: Insurance and Emerging Threats

A 2021 survey identified three key issues impacting the construction industry in 2021: (1) the financial health of contractors; (2) the continuing risk of the pandemic; and (3) technology driving productivity, but also increasing the risk of cybersecurity threats. With this backdrop, insurance premiums in the construction industry are generally on the rise in 2021.