Awuah v. Coverall N. Am., Inc., No. 12-2495 (1st Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Defendant in this case was a franchisor and Plaintiffs were its franchisees. After Plaintiffs sued Defendant, the district court certified a class, excluding those franchisees whose agreements with Defendant contained clauses expressly requiring arbitration. While those franchisees pursued arbitration, the arbitrator imposed a stay of the arbitrations of ten of those franchisees. The district court later concluded that Defendant had violated an order requiring it to obtain judicial permission before making any motion to delay or prevent arbitration proceedings and sanctioned Defendant by admitting to the class the ten franchisees, relieving them of their obligations to arbitrate. Defendant then unsuccessfully filed a motion to reconsider the sanction and to stay the ten franchisees' judicial proceedings pending arbitration. The First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the district court's determination that Defendant violated the order was an abuse of discretion; and (2) therefore, there was no basis for the sanction, and Defendant's motion to stay should have been granted.