Supreme Court Denies Cert, Refuses To Consider Order Compelling Arbitration

 WASHINGTON, D.C. — (Mealey’s) The U.S. Supreme Court on June 9 denied a petition for certiorari filed by a seaman who sought review of a decision that his injury-related claims must be arbitrated under his employment contact with a cruise line (Mahaveer Singh v. Carnival Corp., No. 13-1203, U.S. Sup.; See November 2013, Page 10).

Injury

Mahaveer Singh sued Carnival Corp. in a Florida state court, asserting claims for Jones Act negligence, failure to provide maintenance and cure, unseaworthiness and declaratory relief and seeking a decision that his claims were not subject to arbitration. Carnival removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida under Title 9 U.S. Code Section 205.

Singh, a citizen of India, worked for Carnival, a Panamanian corporation, as a crew member. Singh was participating in a lifeboat drill when he fell 65 feet off of the vessel. His employment contract required that all disputes be submitted to arbitration.

Motion To Compel

Carnival moved to compel arbitration. The District Court granted the motion pursuant to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. Singh appealed to the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Singh argued that the arbitration agreement was not valid under Panamanian law, among other issues. The appeals court said that when deciding a motion to compel arbitration, a court reviews whether the convention's jurisdictional requirements are met and whether affirmative defenses apply.

The 11th Circuit said “the Convention's four jurisdictional prerequisites are:  (1) That there is an agreement in writing to arbitrate the dispute; (2) That the agreement provides for arbitration in the territory of a signatory of the convention; (3) That the agreement arises out of a legal relationship, whether contractual or not, that is considered commercial; and (4) That one party to the agreement is not a United States citizen, or that the commercial relationship at issue has some reasonable relation with a foreign state."

Arbitration

The 11th Circuit found that the District Court properly decided to grant the motion to compel based on the decisions in Lindo v. NCL (Bahamas), Ltd., 652 F.3d 1257 (11th Cir. 2011) [an enhanced version of this opinion is available to lexis.com subscribers] and Bautista v. Star Cruises, 396 F.3d 1289, 1294 (11th Cir. 2005) [enhanced version]. The court found no reversible error in the District Court's analysis in deciding to compel arbitration under Singh's employment contract.

Singh filed a petition for certiorari in the Supreme Court on April 1.

Singh is represented by Ervin A. Gonzalez of Coral Gables, Fla.

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