On August 24, Duane Morris partner Rob Palumbos will present a CLE webinar at the Pennsylvania Defense Institute about developments in the forum non conveniens doctrine in Pennsylvania. Over the last several years, the Pennsylvania Superior Court has been extremely active on this issue, issuing approximately two dozen new precedential decisions. For more information or to register, please visit the Pennsylvania Defense Institute’s website.
On December 1, 2021, several welcome amendments to Rule 3 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure will take effect (barring highly unlikely Congressional action). These changes clarify and simplify the requirements for notices of appeal.
First, the amendments make clear that a notice of appeal encompasses all interlocutory orders that merge into the designated judgment or appealable order. Appellants need not specifically designate such interlocutory orders in the notice.
Those provisions eliminate a waiver trap that some courts had created by holding that an appellant’s designation of certain interlocutory orders in the notice of appeal excluded review of undesignated orders. The amendments provide that designations of specific orders will not limit the scope of the notice of appeal without an express statement that the notice is so limited.
Second, the amendments make clear that a notice encompasses the final judgment when it identifies a final order that resolves all remaining claims or an order that resolves a post-judgment motion. That change removes waiver traps that had developed based on Rule 3’s prior requirement that a notice designate the “judgment.”
Some courts had held that where an appellant described a final order as an “order” rather than a “judgment,” the notice was limited to that order, excluding review of interlocutory orders that merged into the judgment. Likewise, some courts treated a notice of appeal that designated only an order disposing of a post-judgment motion as limited to that order, excluding review of the judgment itself. The amendments eliminate both traps.
While the amendments reflect the law that already governed in many jurisdictions, they are still a welcome change. The amendments eliminate ambiguity that had caused problems in certain jurisdictions and provide clarity for practitioners.
The Supreme Court heard argument in the second iteration of Henry Schein, Inc. v. Archer & White Sales, Inc., Case No. 19-963, (Henry Schein II) on December 8, 2020, which was broadcast live on CSPAN and is available here. During the course of the argument and questioning, the Court made clear that it was only considering a narrow question: Assume that the contract generally says that an arbitrator decides if a particular dispute must be arbitrated, rather than be litigated in a court. Also assume that the contract says claims for injunctive relief are not subject to arbitration. The parties to the contract have a dispute, and they disagree on whether the dispute seeks injunctive relief. Who decides this threshold dispute—an arbitrator or a court? (For more background on this case, see our pre-argument discussion on the issues presented.)
The question presented to the Court in Henry Schein II seems to be one of pure contract interpretation, which makes it an odd choice for the Court to hear. The Court is ostensibly deciding whether the carve-out for injunctive relief claims in this contract limits just the scope of arbitration or also limits the scope of the contract’s delegation to the arbitrator to decide the threshold issues of arbitrability. Yet, the oral argument revealed a few themes that indicate some of the broader implications of this litigation.
Arbitrability—or who decides what claims are subject to arbitration—is returning to the Supreme Court next week for the second time in as many years. The first time the matter reached the Court, the Supreme Court unanimously held that, where a contract clearly and unmistakably delegates questions of arbitrability to an arbitrator, a court cannot decide the issue in the first instance, even if the court thinks the argument for arbitration is “wholly groundless.” Henry Schein, Inc. v. Archer & White Sales, Inc., 139 S. Ct. 524 (2019).
The issue has now returned to the Supreme Court following remand and a new decision by the Fifth Circuit. Archer & White Sales, Inc. v. Henry Schein, Inc., 935 F.3d 274 (5th Cir. 2019). On December 8, 2020, the Court will hear the case again, this time to decide “[w]hether a provision in an arbitration agreement that exempts certain claims from arbitration negates an otherwise clear and unmistakable delegation of questions of arbitrability to an arbitrator.”