August 19, 2019

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Court Compels Arbitration Under the New York Convention and Dismisses Case in Windstorm Insurance Claim Dispute

The underlying insurance policy was issued by Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s London and contained an arbitration clause. The court applied the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (also known as the New York Convention) under the FAA. The court found that all four requirements under the Convention were met. The court easily determined that there was a written agreement and that the agreement arose out of a commercial relationship. With respect to the requirement that the agreement provide for arbitration in the territory of a signatory of the Convention, the court found that the requirement was met where the insurance policy (although separate from the arbitration clause), provided that “any action brought against [the insurer] must be in the United States of America, ‘in a court having proper jurisdiction.'” And regarding the final requirement of the Convention, that a party to the agreement is not an American citizen or that the commercial relationship has a reasonable relation with a foreign state, the court found it was met because a portion of the insurance policy was subscribed to by Lloyd’s Syndicate 2001, which is wholly owned by a company that is organized and principally based in the United Kingdom.

Although Section 3 of the FAA states that district courts “shall” stay proceedings pending arbitration upon the motion of a party, the court found that it is appropriate to dismiss the lawsuit where all of the issues presented are arbitrable and the plaintiff has not requested a stay. The complaint only raised one claim, which the court found subject to arbitration, and the plaintiff did not respond to the motion to compel or otherwise request a stay. As a result, the court dismissed the complaint with prejudice.

German Int’l Sch. of Fort Lauderdale, LLC v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London, No. 0:19-cv-60741 (S.D. Fla. May 14, 2019).

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About this Author

 Benjamin E. Stearns, Regulatory attorney, Carlton Fields
Associate

Benjamin Stearns’s practice focuses on regulated industries, primarily medical marijuana and property and casualty insurance. Benjamin works with state regulators to resolve compliance matters and negotiate enforcement actions. He also lobbies the Florida Legislature, and has testified before legislative committees.

In addition, Benjamin litigates insurance coverage matters and contests of government contract awards. He represented the state of Florida in an original action against Georgia in the United States Supreme Court over the apportionment of the waters in the Chattahoochee-...

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