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State ex rel. Hewitt v. Kerr

Supreme Court of Missouri

April 28, 2015, Opinion Issued

No. SC93846

Opinion

 [*803]  en banc

ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN MANDAMUS

PER CURIAM

A former employee of the St. Louis Rams Partnership, Todd Hewitt, seeks a writ of mandamus requiring the circuit court to vacate its order compelling arbitration of his claim of age discrimination against the St. Louis Rams Partnership and three of its affiliates. Five judges find that a writ of mandamus is the appropriate mechanism to review whether the trial court erred in sustaining a motion to compel arbitration. Four judges find that Mr. Hewitt's employment contract contained a valid and enforceable arbitration clause that required him to arbitrate disputes, including his statutory claims, against the Rams. Four judges also find that [**2]  the National Football League's dispute resolution procedural guidelines setting out the essential terms of arbitration were not referenced in Mr. Hewitt's employment contract and, therefore, were not incorporated into his contract. Four judges further find that the terms of the contract designating the NFL commissioner, an employee of the team owners, as the sole arbitrator with unfettered discretion to establish the rules for arbitration are unconscionable and, therefore, unenforceable. Four judges find that Missouri's uniform arbitration act provides a mechanism to imply the terms missing from the arbitration agreement and provides the rules for appointing an arbitrator to replace the NFL commissioner. Accordingly, four judges issue a permanent writ of mandamus directing the trial court to vacate its order granting the motion to compel arbitration and, instead, issue an order compelling arbitration wherein the trial court appoints a neutral arbitrator, implies the specific terms of arbitration from applicable statues in Missouri's uniform arbitration act, and directs the parties to proceed with arbitration.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

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461 S.W.3d 798 *; 2015 Mo. LEXIS 30 **; 126 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 1736

STATE ex rel. TODD HEWITT, Relator, v. HONORABLE KRISTINE KERR, JUDGE, CIRCUIT COURT for ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI, Respondent.

Prior History: State ex rel. Hewitt v. Kerr, 2013 Mo. App. LEXIS 1223 (Mo. Ct. App., Oct. 22, 2013)

CORE TERMS

arbitration, arbitration agreement, terms, guidelines, unconscionable, parties, employment contract, mandamus, bylaws, Football, League, circuit court, per curiam, team, writ of mandamus, trial court, bias, arbitration provision, essential terms, proceedings, provisions, courts, disputes, arbitration clause, appointed, vacate, cases, designated, commerce, agreement to arbitrate

Business & Corporate Compliance, Pretrial Matters, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Validity of ADR Methods, Governments, Courts, Authority to Adjudicate, Civil Procedure, Writs, Common Law Writs, Mandamus, Arbitration, Federal Arbitration Act, Arbitration Agreements, Constitutional Law, Congressional Duties & Powers, Commerce Clause, General Overview, Scope, Contracts Law, Defenses, Unconscionability, Contracts Law, Contract Conditions & Provisions, Arbitration Clauses, Contract Interpretation, Intent, Adhesion Contracts, Labor & Employment Law, Conditions & Terms, Arbitration Provisions, Enforcement, Contract Formation, Consideration, Mutual Obligations, Ambiguities & Contra Proferentem, Arbitrability