Hunt v. Moore Brothers

861 F.3d 655 (2017)

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Hunt v. Moore Brothers

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
861 F.3d 655 (2017)

  • Written by Alexander Hager-DeMyer, JD

Facts

James Hunt (plaintiff) was an independent truck driver who contracted with Moore Brothers, Inc. (Moore) (defendant). The independent-contractor agreement between the parties included binding arbitration clauses covering any dispute arising out of the parties’ agreement. Hunt and Moore had a falling-out, and Hunt hired a lawyer, Jana Rine, to sue Moore. Rine filed a multicount complaint against Moore in federal court, alleging criminal-statute violations, violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, federal antitrust-law violations, and several state-law violations. Moore moved to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), and Rine objected, arguing that Moore’s violation of the agreement voided the arbitration clauses and that the agreement fell outside the FAA’s scope because Hunt was a transportation worker. The district court rejected both of Rine’s arguments, finding that an alleged violation of the agreement did not invalidate arbitration clauses and that as an independent contractor, Hunt was not an employee able to claim a transportation-worker exception. The court ordered the parties to select an arbitrator per the terms of their agreement. Rine soon filed a motion claiming that arbitrator selection failed and that the arbitration clause was unenforceable under Nebraska law. The district court told Rine that she should have raised the argument earlier and that the argument was without merit because the FAA preempted any conflicting state law. When Moore moved to impose sanctions on Rine under 28 U.S.C. § 1927, the court granted the sanction motion and dismissed Hunt’s entire case. To determine the amount of the sanctions, the court had Moore submit an affidavit describing the fees it incurred in responding to Rine’s motions. Rine appealed the sanctions to the Seventh Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wood, C.J.)

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