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Legal Memorandum: Determining Gateway Issues to Arbitrability

Issue: What effect do Reed v. Turner St. Croix Maintenance, Inc., No. Civ.2003/0095 (D.V.I. Mar. 28, 2005) and Moore v. HOVENSA, LLC, No. Civ. 171/2004 (V.I. Super. Ct. June 22, 2005) have on a court’s duty to determine gateway issues to arbitrability?

Area of Law: Alternative Dispute Resolution, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Gateway issues to arbitrability; Reed v. Turner St. Croix Maintenance, Inc.; Moore v. HOVENSA, LLC
Jurisdiction: Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 514 U.S. 938; 363 U.S. 574; 169 F.3d 501; 311 F.3d 237; 909 F. Supp. 999; 475 U.S. 643
Cited Statutes: 24 V.I.C. § 284; V.I. Code Ann., tit. 1, § 4
Date: 07/01/2006

Plaintiff does not imply or suggest “that there has been an intervening change in controlling law,” or that the District Court of the Virgin Islands’ decision in Reed v. Turner St. Croix Maintenance, Inc., No. Civ.2003/0095 (D.V.I. Mar. 28, 2005), is binding precedent on this Court, as Defendant argues.  Plaintiff has only made the very reasonable argument that the Court’s failure to file a memorandum opinion when it issued the summary Order strongly suggests that the Court considered neither the Reed case nor the other legal authority, including Third Circuit precedent, cited in Plaintiff’s Opposition to Defendant’s Motion to Stay Proceedings.

It is wrong to say that the court in its decision in Moore v. HOVENSA, LLC, No. Civ. 171/2004 (V.I. Super. Ct. June 22, 2005), rejected the court’s reasoning in Reed v. Turner St. Croix Maintenance, Inc., No. Civ.2003/0095 (D.V.I. Mar. 28, 2005).  The Moore court respectfully considered the Reed court’s reasoning and, indeed, adopted it to some extent.  For example, the Moore court discussed the finding in Reed “that Reed had no choice but to agree to the arbitration provisions of the Hourly Employment Agreement if Reed wanted to gain employment with Turner.”   Following Reed, the Moore Court found “that the arbitration provisions of the subject Employment Agreement constitute[d] a contract of adhesion” and was therefore procedurally unconscionable.  The Moore Court then went on to discuss and reject the Reed court’s finding of substantive unconscionability.  It concluded that the plaintiff failed to “establish substantive unconscionability . . . in […]

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