Florida Supreme Court Case Further Defines Reach of Arbitration Agreements

In a case earlier this year, the Florida Supreme Court had a chance to further define the situations in which an arbitration agreement is valid. An arbitration agreement is a contract entered into as a part of a larger contract. Generally speaking, an arbitration agreement is an agreement to waive the right to go to court if anything should happen between the two parties to the contract. Instead of going to court, the parties agree to instead participate in a binding arbitration session.

Problems with Arbitration Agreements

There has been some commentary lately from a variety of sources that arbitration agreements are unfair to the lesser sophisticated party. In a traditional contract between a business and an individual, this would be the individual. This is because the more sophisticated party often chooses the arbiter, meaning that, at least in theory, they will have an advantage. Many common contracts contain arbitration clauses, which is another reason why some scholars claim they are unfair; a consumer is often not able to find a vendor to deal with that does not include an arbitration clause in the contract. This leaves the consumer in a “take it or leave” type position.

The Recent Florida Supreme Court Opinion

In the opinion Jackson v. Shakespeare Foundation, Inc., the Florida Supreme Court determined that a claim of fraud is included in the intended realm of the arbitration agreement and therefore cannot proceed to a court of law.

This is an important decision because, prior to this opinion, it was unclear if claims of fraud were covered under an arbitration agreement, or if they could bypass the agreement and proceed to trial.

Ultimately, the Court held that the claims should have been brought in front of the arbiter, concluding that the claims had  “a contractual nexus with, and a significant relationship to, the contract between the [parties] and is, as a general principle, within the scope of the contract’s broad arbitration provision.”

The Decisions Affect on Florida Litigants

This decision is a negative one for Florida personal injury plaintiffs because it broadens the group of situations where an arbitration agreement is enforceable. However, this is just one avenue to attack an arbitration agreement. Other avenues do exist in specific cases.

What To Do if You Have a Florida Personal Injury Case

If you are considering bringing a personal injury case in Florida, but fear that you may be bound by an arbitration agreement, you should speak with an experienced Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible. It may be that, due to a unique fact of your case, an arbitration agreement that may otherwise be binding is not in your case. The Dean Law Firm has the experience and dedication you need to effectively bring your Florida personal injury law suit. Click here, or call 352-387-8700 to schedule a free initial consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Fire in Miami Shores Nursing Home Forces All Residents to Evacuate, Ocala Injury Lawyers Blog, published February 4, 2014.

Elderly Woman Kills Three Backing Out of a Parking Space After Church, Ocala Injury Lawyers Blog, published February 3, 2014.

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