SkyStillSunny

GA Case Law regarding arbitration?

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Does anyone know of any case laws that I can use for my MTC arbitration in GA? 

I got served by L&J representing Unifund CCR, LLC on a citi card w/ an arbitration clause. However there is some verbiage in that clause that says it can be handled in small claims, and I believe magistrate court in my county is small claims.

I did file for arbitration immediately (upon recommendation here, thank you!), but AAA came back and said that if any party wanted to pursue in small claims they could if they sent in a written response. Well L&J did submit a response and said they wanted to pursue in small claims.

My arbitration clause was started before I was served with the suit, but now AAA is closing the case because L&J requested small claims. However, AAA said that the Business has to pay the $200 fee. Because of this:

Quote

In this case, Unifund CCR, LLC decided to pursue the small claims option, so we therefore applied an Unpublished Small Claims Fee Schedule. This means that the business no longer owes their portion ($300), but is asked to pay the consumer’s portion instead ($200). Should you obtain a Court Order compelling arbitration, then either party can choose to have the case re-opened. The filing documents would have to be resubmitted along with the court order to Case Filing, as previously done, and note the prior case number when resubmitting it.

Unifund has not paid the $200 yet. I go to court soon, and I just wanted to prepare bc L&J will probably say something to the effect of the arbitration clause doesn't apply here because there is an exception that says it can be pursued in small claims, and AAA also sent a letter pretty much saying the same thing.

I was just looking to prepare my MTC with additional GA case law that would help me say that the arbitration clause is indeed valid and I have a right to that option.

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On 2/14/2019 at 9:53 AM, SkyStillSunny said:

I was just looking to prepare my MTC with additional GA case law that would help me say that the arbitration clause is indeed valid and I have a right to that option.

How do you plan to get around the small claims exemption?  Your only shot is arguing that magistrate court isn't considered small claims, and in order for that to work, there needs to be another court that would be considered a small claims court. 

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I was planning on making arguments like these that I got off this board from similar posts (thanks to @fisthardcheese)

  • Per the Supreme Court, the Conception SCOTUS case does not make any type of exception. That if arbitration is listed in a contract, the SCOTUS says it is an absolute right and that a court may ONLY decide whether the clause is valid or not.  An undisputed card agreement should be deemed valid, and therefore, any argument over "small claims", should be heard by an arbitrator only.  
  • The court should only determine if a valid arbitration clause merely exists and both parties agree that a valid clause exists because L&J actually sent me the credit card agreement when I sent in a DV.
  • Any ambiguous statements within the arb clause are to be interpreted and determined by the Arbitrator and not the court.
  • Also the "small claims exception" is a twisted interpretation of the JAMS and AAA rules, which state that the consumer must be allowed the OPTION of small claims in order for a consumer clause to list their firms as the arbiters of disputes. 
  • The small claims statement is ambiguous and can be interpreted in many different ways because “small claims” is not defined within the arbitration clause.
  • The credit card agreement does not define small claims. Because it’s not clearly defined, the court should only determine a valid arbitration clause exists and any statements within the arb clause should be defined and determined by the arbitrator.

But luckily, I didn't even have to argue because the attorney was a fill-in, and they agreed w/ the arbitration and the judge signed the order with no one objecting! I was just trying to plan ahead with a bunch of arguments and case law in case it came to such. If I got denied, I was going to appeal, in which case then it would no longer be in small claims. That was going to be my strategy, but I ended up not having to do any of that. However, I still think this could be useful for any people going through the same thing.

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51 minutes ago, SkyStillSunny said:

But luckily, I didn't even have to argue because the attorney was a fill-in, and they agreed w/ the arbitration and the judge signed the order with no one objecting!

Nice! That's one attorney that won't be used by L&J anymore. 

  • Haha 1

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This is why Keeping everything in one thread is important.  It confuses both people trying to help you and people coming here later looking to read about past cases for their own help.

This is the follow up for the issues discussed here:

 

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3 hours ago, SkyStillSunny said:

I was planning on making arguments like these that I got off this board from similar posts (thanks to @fisthardcheese)

  • Per the Supreme Court, the Conception SCOTUS case does not make any type of exception. That if arbitration is listed in a contract, the SCOTUS says it is an absolute right and that a court may ONLY decide whether the clause is valid or not.  An undisputed card agreement should be deemed valid, and therefore, any argument over "small claims", should be heard by an arbitrator only.  
  • The court should only determine if a valid arbitration clause merely exists and both parties agree that a valid clause exists because L&J actually sent me the credit card agreement when I sent in a DV.
  • Any ambiguous statements within the arb clause are to be interpreted and determined by the Arbitrator and not the court.
  • Also the "small claims exception" is a twisted interpretation of the JAMS and AAA rules, which state that the consumer must be allowed the OPTION of small claims in order for a consumer clause to list their firms as the arbiters of disputes. 
  • The small claims statement is ambiguous and can be interpreted in many different ways because “small claims” is not defined within the arbitration clause.
  • The credit card agreement does not define small claims. Because it’s not clearly defined, the court should only determine a valid arbitration clause exists and any statements within the arb clause should be defined and determined by the arbitrator.

But luckily, I didn't even have to argue because the attorney was a fill-in, and they agreed w/ the arbitration and the judge signed the order with no one objecting! I was just trying to plan ahead with a bunch of arguments and case law in case it came to such. If I got denied, I was going to appeal, in which case then it would no longer be in small claims. That was going to be my strategy, but I ended up not having to do any of that. However, I still think this could be useful for any people going through the same thing.

For future reference, the top #1 argument I would make in GA is that the doors of the courtroom say Magistrate Court and do not say "Small Claims Court".  I feel that is the best shot, as those other arguments are more weak.

Also, using the De Novo appeal ability in GA is always the backup for if this kind of argument fails.  De Novo means you can appeal to State Court for any reason at all and the case starts over as if the Magistrate Case never happened.  I would file the appeal and as soon as I got a State Court case number, I would immediately file the MTC in that higher court rendering all talk of "small claims exceptions" moot.

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Great info to keep in my back pocket if this ever occurs again with that "small claims" verbiage! Thank you @fisthardcheese

And got it, will try to keep everything in 1 post. Some of my cases have dragged on for a year, so I thought maybe if I just specifically asked for 1 thing someone might be able to respond for that specific request, but I get it now. Thanks for linking!

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