Plummer v. McSweeney, No. 18-3059 (8th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of the law firm's motion to compel arbitration between the firm and its client. The court held that the law firm's offer to pay plaintiff's share of the arbitration costs cured any substantive unconscionability that the agreement may have contained; the offer also cured any issue regarding substantive unconscionability where the arbitration provision in effect allowed only the firm to obtain redress of claims; plaintiff has not demonstrated that she lacked meaningful choice, and thus the circumstances giving rise to the lawsuit did not render the retainer agreement procedurally unconscionable; and the language in the agreement adequately disclosed the consequences of the arbitration provision, and the agreement was not unenforceable because the firm violated their ethical duties under DC Circuit precedent.
Court Description: Arnold, Author, with Gruender and Grasz, Circuit Judges] Civil case - Arbitration. The district court erred in denying defendant's motion to compel arbitration; the defendant's offer to pay plaintiff's share of the costs of arbitration has cured any substantive unconscionability that the attorney-client retainer agreement may have contained; this offer also cured any question that the agreement was substantively unconscionable because it, in effect, only allowed defendant to obtain redress of claims; the district court also erred in finding procedural unconscionability because plaintiff had meaningful choice as to whether to sign the retainer agreement, the agreement stated she had freedom to contract and any argument that she could not have negotiated other terms with the defendant was speculative; the language in the agreement adequately disclosed the consequences of the arbitration provision and did not violate D.C. Circuit case law on an attorney's ethical obligations in these situations. [ October 22, 2019