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Chris Lazarini Analyzes Court's Decision to Stay Proceedings Involving Non-Arbitrable Claims Pending the Outcome of an Arbitration

Securities Litigation Commentator


September 26, 2017
Chris Lazarini | Contributing Legal Editor | Securities Litigation Commentator

Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Chris Lazarini analyzed a case involving claims against one defendant that are arbitrable and claims against a second defendant that are not. Exercising its discretion, the court stayed the proceedings as to the non-arbitrable claims pending the outcome of the arbitration.

Chris provided the analysis for Securities Litigation Commentator (SLC). The full text of the analysis is below and used with permission from the publication. If you would like to receive additional content from the SLC, please visit the SLC website to sign up for the newsletter.

Roman vs. UBS Financial Services, Inc. of Puerto Rico, No. 12-1663 (D. P.R., 8/21/17) 

*In the First Circuit, a court may dismiss, rather than stay, a case when all issues before the Court are arbitrable.

**When a case involves claims against one defendant that are arbitrable and related to claims against a second defendant that are not arbitrable, the court has discretion to stay the non-arbitrable claims pending the outcome of the arbitration. 

This case was originally filed as a putative class action against broker-dealer UBS Financial Services Inc. of Puerto Rico ("UBS-PR"), two UBS-PR executive officers (the "Individual Defendants"), UBS Trust Company of Puerto Rico ("UBS Trust") and six closed-end management investment companies (the "UBS Bond Funds"). The Court denied Plaintiffs' motion for class certification (SLA 2016-48). The Court of Appeals for the First Circuit then denied Plaintiffs' Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(f) petition seeking leave for immediate appeal of the class certification issue.

Now, the Court considers the motion to dismiss and to compel arbitration filed by UBS-PR and the Individual Defendants. Despite the prior proceedings, Plaintiffs' sole argument in opposition is that the matter should be maintained as a class action. The Court deems Plaintiffs' argument another request for reconsideration and rejects it. It acknowledges that Plaintiffs' UBS-PR client agreements would bar arbitration if this were a class action, but notes that it is not, restating its earlier rationale for denying class certification. Here, UBS-PR and the Individual Defendants meet their burden of showing a valid agreement containing an arbitration clause that captures the claims asserted against them. Deciding that all issues before it as to the moving defendants are arbitrable, the Court dismisses, without prejudice, Plaintiffs' claims against UBS-PR and the Individual Defendants. As to the claims against UBS Trust and the UBS Bond Funds, which are not subject to an arbitration agreement, the Court finds them inextricably entwined with the arbitrable claims and, exercising its discretion, stays those claims pending the outcome of the arbitration.

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