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State v. The American Arbitration Association

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 9, 2019

THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA, BOARD OF REGENTS, STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
THE AMERICAN ARBITRATION ASSOCIATION, Defendant-Appellee, MODERN PIPING, INC., Intervenor/Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Mary E. Chicchelly, Judge.

         The petitioners appeal the order granting summary judgment on their action to enjoin the American Arbitration Association from arbitrating a contract dispute. AFFIRMED.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and George A. Carroll, Assistant Attorney General, for appellants.

          John A. Templer Jr. and Zachary J. Hermsen of Whitfield & Eddy, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellee The American Arbitration Association.

          Jeffrey A. Stone and Gail Brashers-Krug of Simmons Perrine Moyer Bergman PLC, Cedar Rapids, for appellee Modern Piping, Inc.

          Heard by Potterfield, P.J., Doyle, J., and Danilson, S.J. [*]

          DOYLE, JUDGE.

         The University of Iowa, Board of Regents, and State of Iowa (petitioners) appeal from the order granting summary judgment on their action to enjoin the American Arbitration Association (AAA) from arbitrating a contract dispute. They contend the district court erred in determining the doctrine of arbitral immunity prevents them from enjoining the AAA from arbitrating the dispute.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         Modern Piping, Inc. contracted to perform work on two building projects at the University of Iowa. Both contracts contain the following arbitration provision:

[A]ny claim, dispute or other matter in question between the Contractor and the Owner referred to the Design Professional, except those which have been waived by the making or acceptance of final payment as provided in the Uniform General Conditions of the Contract, shall be subject to arbitration in accordance with the provisions of the Uniform General Conditions of the Contract.

         When disputes arose with regard to each contract, Modern Piping filed demands for arbitration with the AAA.

         The petitioners filed an action against the AAA, [1] seeking to enjoin it from arbitrating the disputes. The district court issued a temporary injunction but dissolved it after determining that the doctrine of arbitral immunity applied. The court granted the AAA's motion for summary judgment, dismissing the action on the same ground. The petitioners appealed.

         II. Scope and ...


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