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Forthcoming Opinion

September 28, 2012

On Monday, the Court will release opinions in 20 cases, one of which is within the scope of our coverage. We will update on Monday morning with a summary of the opinion issued.

S12G0463. AMERICAN GENERAL FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC. v. JAPE

This case presents an apparent conflict between the Federal Arbitration Act and Georgia law. It began when American General Financial Services filed a collection against Jape to recover on a loan Jape obtained from American General. Jape counterclaimed, alleging breach of contract. When Jape filed his counterclaim, American General moved to compel arbitration and stay the proceedings pending arbitration. The trial court denied the motion, finding that American General waived its right to arbitrate the counterclaim by filing a collection action in the trial court. American General requested a certificate of immediate review and when the trial court did not issue it, American General filed a notice of direct appeal.

The Court of Appeals dismissed the notice of appeal for lack of jurisdiction, finding that American General failed to obtain a certificate of immediate review for the motion to compel arbitration and stay proceedings.  (Thanks Hunton & Williams LLP for providing a copy of the Court of Appeals decision that was not otherwise available.)

On March 5, 2012, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in a 4-3 vote (Hunstein, Carley, and Hines dissenting) to consider the following question:

  1. Did the Court of Appeals err in finding that the Federal Arbitration Act’s provision allowing direct appeals from orders denying motions to compel arbitration, see 9 U.S.C. § 16 (a) (1) (B), does not preempt Georgia’s procedural rules which require that appeals of interlocutory orders come by application?
The case was heard at oral argument on June 5, 2012.
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