Friday, November 30, 2018

TRO issued in Jay-Z AAA Arbitration

An injunction was issued this week by a New York judge in favor of Jay-Z on the grounds that the lack of African-American arbitrators provided by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) impeded his right to equal opportunity under the law. Judge Saliann Scarpulla issued a temporary restraining order, pushing arbitration back to next month at the earliest. The dispute involves Iconix, which acquired Rocawear in 2007, and sued the rapper last year for allegedly breaching their 2007 contract by using the Roc Nation logo on a new line of baseball caps. A countersuit argues that the contract applied only to Rocawear and not Roc Nation, at which point both parties entered AAA arbitration. Jay-Z claims AAA found only three potential African-American arbitrators, out of the hundreds it uses, for his case, and one already represented Iconix in related litigation. To begin the process, the AAA typically provides parties with a list of potential arbitrators from which they must eliminate names until they arrive at one. Reportedly, Jay-Z maintains that white arbitrators exhibit “unconscious bias” towards black defendants, and that the AAA’s lack of racial diversity consequently “deprives litigants of colour of a meaningful opportunity to have their claims heard by a panel of arbitrators reflecting their backgrounds and life experience.” His lawyers claim arbitration procedures in place by the AAA “deprive black litigants...of the equal protection of the laws, equal access to public accommodations, and mislead consumers into believing that they will receive a fair and impartial adjudication.” Although the ruling may not stop the proceeding altogether, it could set an important precedent for addressing diversity in neutral selection. See full news stories here-- and

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Tomorrow in Orlando: Closing the Gap

Join me tomorrow at the Orange County Bar Association as I moderate a seasoned panel on strategies to bridge gaps causing impasses. I will present panel members with complex fact patterns and describe the specific situations in which the negotiations have stalled and then ask what techniques they would utilize to move the negotiations forward. This will be an engaging program and will feature some of our firm's best mediators. The attendee list is an impressive one as well, with many veteran trial lawyers and even a few mediators, as well as a United States Magistrate Judge from the Middle District of Florida. This program is eligible for 1.5 hours of CLE credit from The Florida Bar. We also plan to meet afterwards in Downtown's North Quarter for an ADR Committee reception at Reyes, just across the street on Orange Avenue. Please come in the event you cannot make the afternoon seminar!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Special Master Orders Briefs in Water Wars

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court-appointed Special Master of the so-called Water Wars, Honorable Paul J. Kelly, Jr., set a January 31, 2019 deadline for initial briefs and a February 28, 2019 deadline for reply briefs. Judge Kelly denied Florida’s request for additional evidence-gathering in the case before he will make further findings regarding Florida's claim it suffered harm from the overconsumption of water by Georgia. He found additional discovery would only lengthen the proceedings, delay the outcome and increase litigation costs, citing a voluminous record in the case from unlimited discovery and lengthy prior trial. Florida still seeks the cap on consumption that would alleviate past damage allegedly caused by Georgia. Future proceedings will weigh Georgia’s claims that any limits on its water use would undermine its economy, including the growth of the Atlanta area and the state’s agriculture industry in southwestern Georgia. This blog has followed the Water Wars for years in other entries. Florida ultimately seeks to limit Georgia’s water consumption from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, including Lake Lanier, to 1992 levels and to get reparations for alleged economic and environmental harm to Apalachicola's oyster fisheries from drought. See more here-- and here--