Malatesta Wins Long-Awaited Motion to Compel Arbitration

On July 17, 2018, Judge Michael Mills of the Northern District of Mississippi granted a motion to compel arbitration in a case which had been pending since January 2013. Over the past five (5) years, the Court has requested discovery regarding certain, specific facts as well as additional briefing on Mississippi law several times.

The Northern District’s 22 page opinion discusses nearly all of the nursing home arbitration decisions that the Northern District has decided in the past five years, including the Fifth Circuit’s 2015 decision to reverse the Northern District’s order denying a motion to compel arbitration in Gross v. GGNSC Southaven, 83 F. Supp. 3d 691 (N.D. Miss. 2015). Gross involved a theory of actual and apparent agency to sign an arbitration agreement and whether actual agency could be granted without a written instrument. In Gross the Fifth Circuit held that no such instrument was required. Immediately after the Fifth Circuit issued its opinion reversing the Northern District’s decision, the Northern District requested additional briefing from those parties regarding a separate issue. Unfortunately, the Gross matter settled before the briefing was completed.

In the meantime, HAT attorney Jacob Malatesta argued that Gross  was not only applicable, it was determinative. In the instant case there could be no dispute that the principal granted actual authority to her agent, albeit verbally instead of through a written instrument. The Northern District stated that if the Northern District’s previous decision in “Gross had been affirmed, then this case would be quite easy, and it seems doubtful that the motion to compel arbitration would have been filed at all.” However, since it was now the Northern District’s duty “to apply the law as established by the “Fifth Circuit,” the Northern District was compelled to refer the matter to binding arbitration.

You can read the full opinion here.