Ninth Circuit Opinion, Case #:  15-16881

Submitted by DCGadmin on Fri, 2017-12-22 10:12
Appeal from the District Court of Guam (case 13-cv-00015), Frances Tydingco-Gatewood, Chief District Judge, Presiding.

The Ninth Circuit panel AFFIRMED the district court’s order denying a motion to compel arbitration in a maritime action arising from the death of a seaman in the sinking of a fishing vessel.

A defendant sought arbitration based on an employment agreement between the seaman and the vessel’s owner. Pursuant to a contract with the owner, the defendant supplied the vessel’s crew and supervised its repairs and maintenance.

The panel held that the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, an act implementing a treaty of the same name, does not allow non-signatories or non-parties to compel arbitration. Agreeing with other circuits, the panel held that, like an arbitration agreement, an arbitral clause in a contract must be "signed by the parties" in order to be enforceable under Article II(2) of the Convention Treaty.

The panel further held that the defendant could not compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act, which expressly exempts from its scope any "contracts of employment of seamen." The panel declined to import into the court’s Convention Act analysis precedent permitting a litigant who is not a party to an arbitration agreement to invoke arbitration under the FAA if the relevant state contract law allows the litigant to enforce the agreement.
Date Issued: 
Thursday, November 30, 2017
Order Type: 
Esther Margarita Suarez Viuda De Yang et al, v. Majestic Blue Fisheries, LLC and Dongwon Industries Co., Ltd.