Lower Court Erred By Not Determining Whether There Was An Agreement To Arbitrate

The Fifth Circuit, in Allen v. Vaksman Law Offices, P.C., summarily reversed the U.S. District Court for denying a law firm’s motion to compel arbitration of a former client’s claims. The lower court’s denial of arbitration was solely predicated on, as the appellate court described it, a finding “only that [plaintiff] Allen plausibly denied the existence of a valid arbitration agreement.”

Subtly reminding the lower court of its obligation on remand, the appellate panel noted “[t]here is no reason to doubt that the district court will, as [defendant] Vaksman requests, hold ‘an evidentiary hearing and [make] a factual finding based on the preponderance of the evidence as to whether there exists a valid and binding arbitration agreement between the parties.'”

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