Awuah v. Coverall N.A., Inc. , No. 12-1301 (1st Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
This appeal involved litigation between Coverall North America, Inc. and its franchisees. Proceeding under federal diversity jurisdiction, the franchisees asserted a variety of state-law claims against Coverall. Which of the various plaintiffs were subject to the arbitration provisions of the Franchise Agreement was at issue in this appeal. Appellees were a subgroup of Plaintiffs who became Coverall franchisees by signing consent to transfer agreements, which by reference incorporated under franchise agreements that contained arbitration clauses. The district court determined that Appellees did not have to arbitrate their claims against Coverall because they did not have adequate notice of the arbitration clauses contained in the franchise agreements. The First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the district court erred because (1) Massachusetts law, which governed this dispute, did not impose any such special notice requirement upon these commercial contractual provisions; and (2) in any event, any special notice requirement would be preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act.