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Fifth Circuit Holds Parties Did Not Enter Into Arbitration Agreement Under the FAA

Estella Trammell was an at-will employee of AccentCare. She challenged the district court’s order requiring her to arbitrate a pay dispute with AccentCare. The district court held that there was an enforceable arbitration agreement under the mailbox rule. AccentCare mailed the arbitration agreement to Trammell’s home, but Trammell asserted that she did not receive or sign the arbitration agreement and therefore should not be bound to arbitration. Trammell asserted that she notified AccentCare that she was having difficulty receiving and sending mail at her address. She further asserted that she reported to AccentCare that she had not received timesheets mailed to her address, and she had also mailed timesheets to AccentCare and the company did not receive them. Further, AccentCare admitted that it could not produce a signed copy of the arbitration agreement.

The court held that under the FAA the parties did not enter into an arbitration agreement. In Texas, the mailbox rule holds that a letter property addressed, stamped, and mailed may be presumed to have been received by the addressee in the due course of the mail. However, the court explained that Trammell overcame this presumption and created a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether an arbitration agreement was formed.

Trammell v. AccentCare, Inc., No. 18-50872 (5th Cir. June 7, 2019)

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About this Author

Rachel Schwartz Insurance Attorney

Rachel J. Schwartz represents property and casualty insurance industry clients in litigation and counsels them on varied coverage matters, including coverage disputes arising under Commercial General Liability and Directors & Officer policies.

Rachel drafts pleadings, discovery requests and responses, and motions regarding declaratory judgment actions. She reviews insurance policies and conducts legal research on various insurance coverage topics, including late notice, policy exclusions, duty to defend, allocation, and NY Ins. L. 3420(d). She prepares tenders, carrier position...