Gozzi v. Western Culinary Institute, Ltd.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Arbitration
  • Date Filed: 01-21-2016
  • Case #: A152137
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P.J. for the Court; DeVore, J.; & Edmonds, S.J.

Under Rent-A-Center, West, Inc. v. Jackson, where a party does not challenge a delegation provision specifically, the challenge to the delegation provision must be determined by the arbitrator if the delegation provision requires it.

Defendants Western Culinary Institute, Ltd. and its parent company asserted an interlocutory appeal under ORS 36.730(1)(a) of an order denying its motion to compel arbitration, contending that a provision in the arbitration agreement delegated arbitrability and enforceability of the arbitration agreement to an arbitrator rather than to the court. Plaintiffs argued that because the trial court had already denied a prior motion to compel Defendants had not challenged and also that the delegation provision in the arbitration agreement was ambiguous and unenforceable, the denial should be unreviewable. Defendants argued that the present motion to compel arbitration was applicable to a subclass that was subject to a different arbitration provision than the prior motion had been based on, and so the prior denial should not have preclusive effect. After holding the denial of the motion to compel was reviewable, the Court held the agreement’s severability provision was not ambiguous; that an arbitrator or arbitration panel can constitute a “tribunal of competent jurisdiction” to determine matters of arbitrability, as the severability provision required; the severability provision did not confer jurisdiction on a court but rather gave instruction to the body that had claimed jurisdiction; and, following Rent-A-Center, West, Inc. v. Jackson, 561 US 63 (2010), Plaintiffs did not specifically challenge the delegation and so any challenge must be determined by the arbitrator. Reversed and remanded.

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