Arbitration Case Law Update

Published: June 2023 
Written by: Donna Greenspan Solomon

Prof’l Airline Flight Control Ass’n v. Spirit Airlines, Inc., 65 F.4th 647 (11th Cir. 2023).  Under Railway Labor Act, a minor dispute that parties cannot resolve is subject to arbitration before adjustment board created by airline and its employees.

Landcastle Acquisition Corp. v. Renasant Bank, 57 F.4th 1203 (11th Cir. 2023).  In arbitrations governed by the Federal Arbitration Act, courts look at whether arbitration agreement signed by agent is binding on the principal.

Warrington v. Rocky Patel Premium Cigars, Inc., 2023 WL 1818920, at *2 (11th Cir. Feb. 8, 2023).  Order denying motion to compel arbitration was affirmed where appellant “substantially invoked the litigation machinery prior to demanding arbitration.”

Communications Workers of Am. v. BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc., 2023 WL 2401327, at *3 (11th Cir. Mar. 8, 2023).  Where an arbitration provision is broad, courts should look for an “express provision excluding a particular grievance from arbitration”; otherwise, “only the most forceful evidence of a purpose to exclude the claim from arbitration can prevail.”

Corporacion AIC, SA v. Hidroelectrica Santa Rita S.A., 20-13039, 2023 WL 2922297 (11th Cir. Apr. 13, 2023).  In New York Convention case where arbitration is seated in the United States, or where United States law governs the conduct of the arbitration, Chapter 1 of the FAA provides the grounds for vacatur of an arbitral award.

Calvary Chapel Church, Inc. v. Happ, 353 So. 3d 649 (Fla. 4th DCA 2023).  School’s enrollment contract contained arbitration provision requiring arbitration of wrongful death action brought by parent whose child had died by suicide.

Lennar Homes, LLC v. Wilkinsky, 353 So. 3d 654 (Fla. 4th DCA Jan. 4, 2023).  Arbitration clause requiring arbitration for personal injuries “in the Community” required homeowner to arbitrate action against real estate developer for injuries in bicycle accident on road in community.

GR OPCO, LLC v. Murillo, 352 So. 3d 1279 (Fla. 3d DCA 2023).  Substantial competent evidence supported trial court’s finding that employee did not sign employer’s arbitration agreement and that therefore, no arbitration agreement existed.

Oana v. Solomon, 357 So. 3d 280 (Fla. 2d DCA 2023).  Where order approved arbitration award without entering final judgment but also authorized receiver’s sale of real property, the appellate court lacked jurisdiction to review the arbitration award but nevertheless had non-final jurisdiction to review the order as to the approval of the receiver’s sale of the property.

Erb v. Chubb Nat’l Ins. Co., 47 Fla. L. Weekly D2635 (Fla. 3d DCA Dec. 14, 2022).  Insurer waived its right to arbitrate by failing to timely invoke arbitration provision.

Ron v. Parrado, 48 Fla. L. Weekly D413 (Fla. 3d DCA Feb. 22, 2023).  Party may compel arbitration of agreement not containing arbitration clause if agreement incorporates a different agreement which does contain an arbitration provision.

Vitesse, Inc. v. Mapl Associates LLC, 48 Fla. L. Weekly D618 (Fla. 4th DCA Mar. 22, 2023).  Any scrivener’s error in seller’s motion for trial de novo was trivial and did not substantially impair either purchaser or trial court from having reasonable notice of seller’s desire to proceed to trial, and thus seller’s motion substantially complied with statute governing court-ordered nonbinding arbitration and rule governing motions for trial de novo.

Costa v. Miami Lakes AM, LLC, 2023 WL 2777524, at *3 (Fla. 3d DCA Apr. 5, 2023).  Non-signatory to arbitration agreement may compel arbitration of claims brought by signatory based on doctrine of equitable estoppel if signatory raises allegations of concerted misconduct by both non-signatory and one or more of the signatories to the contract; evidentiary hearing required on remand.

F.R. Aleman & Associates, Inc. v. EAC Consulting, Inc., 2023 WL 2777505, at *1 (Fla. 3d DCA Apr. 5, 2023).  Appellate court affirmed trial court’s confirmation of arbitration panel’s fee award where record contained competent, substantial evidence supporting court’s determination that the parties expressly agreed to have the arbitration panel adjudicate the attorney’s fees issue.

City of Miami v. Fraternal Order of Police, Miami Lodge No. 20, 2023 WL 2777479 (Fla. 3d DCA Apr. 5, 2023).  Police officer waived right to arbitrate grievance challenging his termination for violation of drug policy where officer actively participated in previous litigation that had already determined issues contained in grievance.

Donna Greenspan Solomon was the first attorney certified by The Florida Bar as both Business Litigator and Appellate Specialist.  Donna is a Member of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals and serves as a Chair on AAA (Commercial Panel) and FINRA arbitrations.  She is also a Certified Circuit, Appellate, and Family Mediator and Florida Supreme Court Qualified Arbitrator.  Donna is also a Member of the Florida Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions—Contract and Business Cases.  Donna can be reached at (561) 762-9932 or or by visiting 

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With the retirement of the Hon. Laura Johnson, the Hon. Samantha Feuer moves from Circuit Civil AH to Probate Division IA.



Newly appointed County Court Judge, the Hon. Danielle Sherriff is assigned to Division RB/WD.


Divisional Rotation—EFFECTIVE JULY 3, 2023


Judge Donald Hafele (Current Juvenile Division JL) to Criminal Division T/KK2/KD.

Judge Kirk Volker (Current Criminal Division T/KK2/KD) to Juvenile Division JL.

Senior Judge Richard Oftedal will preside over Circuit Civil Division AK pending Judge Johnson’s replacement.

TBA will preside over Circuit Civil Division AH until July 10, 2023



Judge Sherri Collins (Current Criminal Division P) moves to TD Division.

Judge Ashley Zuckerman (Current TD Division) moves to County Criminal Division M.

Judge Frank Castor (Current Division RB/WD) moves to County Criminal Division P.



Newly appointed Circuit Judge, the Hon. Reid Scott is assigned to Circuit Civil Division AH. 


Next month, the Circuit anticipates amending Administrative Order 3.107 relating to Civil Differentiated Case Management Plans. The goal of the amendment is to save the parties, and the Court, time and resources while more actively managing their cases consistent with the Supreme Court’s directives.

Important changes to the DCM program include the creation of an automated system to provide for the immediate entry of a Differentiated Case Management Order (DCMO) upon the filing of each civil action subject to DCM. The DCMO will set a Case Management Conference/Calendar Call, at which, the case will be set for trial as well as setting critical pretrial and mediation deadlines necessary to resolve the matter within the time standards set forth in Rule 2.250(a)(1)(B), Fla. R. Gen. Prac. & Jud. Admin. The DCMO will provide uniformity across divisions and important instructions for pretrial practice in the Circuit and County Courts. The new DCM Administrative Order will also provide procedures for the parties to amend a DCMO as necessary to fit their particular needs when done in a timely fashion. Please continue to monitor the Circuit’s website for additional information.


Governor Ron DeSantis announces two judicial appointments: one to the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Court and one to the Palm Beach County Court.

Reid Scott II to serve as Judge on the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Court

Scott has served as an Assistant State Attorney for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit since 2006. Previously, he was a partner at Freenman, Goldis & Cash P.A. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and his juris doctor from Stetson University. Scott fills the judicial vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Paige Kilbane.

Danielle Sherriff to serve as Judge on the Palm Beach County Court

Sherriff has served as the Senior Litigation Attorney for the Palm Beach County School District since 2022. Previously, she was an associate at Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith PLLC, and prior to that she served as an Assistant State Attorney for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida International University and her juris doctor from Florida State University. Sherriff fills the judicial vacancy created by the elevation of Judge John Parnofiello.


On May 1, 2023, Judge Mark W. Klingensmith (right) was re-elected as Chief Judge of the Fourth District Court of Appeal and Judge Jeffrey T. Kuntz (left) was chosen as the Chief Judge-elect.  As Chief Judge, Judge Klingensmith will oversee all administrative matters of the court including budgeting, scheduling, and bench-bar relations.

Judge Klingensmith has served on Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal since his appointment in 2013.  Before his elevation to the appeals court, he was a Circuit Court judge in the 19th Judicial Circuit. Prior to taking the bench, Judge Klingensmith practiced civil litigation in private practice for 25 years and was board certified in Civil Trial Practice by the Florida Bar in 2001.  In 2008 he was elected Commissioner for the Town of Sewall’s Point, FL and served terms as Vice Mayor and Mayor.

Judge Klingensmith received his B.A. degree in 1982, and his J.D. degree in 1985, both from the University of Florida. He received his LL.M. degree in Judicial Studies from Duke University in 2016.

Judge Kuntz has served on Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal since his appointment in 2016.  Before his appointment, he practiced appellate litigation in Fort Lauderdale. 

Judge Kuntz received his B.A. degree from Boston College, and his J.D. degree from Suffolk University Law School. 

To Zoom or Not to Zoom – 2023 Version

Written by: Alfred A. LaSorte, Jr.
Published: May 2023

The pandemic is finally over (more or less) and law practice has moved to the “new normal,” where working from home is an option, but many lawyers have moved back to their firms’ offices. Where does Zoom mediation fit in this new normal?

We all got dragged into the Zoom age three years ago (some, kicking and screaming) as the pandemic wreaked its havoc.  But within the past year, with restrictions loosened, in-person mediations have made a comeback of sorts.  Today they constitute perhaps 20% of my mediations.

Initially, Zoom had a learning curve.  My first mediations on Zooms seemed less effective than those in-person.  Some people were frustrated by their inability to read opponents’ body language across a web cam and computer monitor.  From 2020 through 2022, all but a few of my mediations took place on Zoom, but not by choice.  We all just made do with Zoom, as in-person conferencing simply wasn’t an option.

Over time, people became more accustomed to doing business via teleconference, and Zoom mediations improved, at least in my anecdotal experience. I’d say that at this point, Zoom mediations are just about as  effective and successful as those held in-person.

We’re all familiar with Zoom’s drawbacks – the lack of true, face-to-face negotiation, distractions allowing participants from home to zone out and lose focus. (I’ve seen parties – and lawyers – called away from their webcams mid-mediation by everything from barking pets and crying babies to laundry chores.)

Zoom does have unquestionable benefits, though.  Its screen sharing feature makes doc presentations easy.  Scheduling is easier as well – that insurance adjuster in Nashville no longer needs travel arrangements for two days out of the office, just an internet connection and webcam. Participants appreciate being able to join in from their homes or offices, or those of their counsel. It can be much less expensive as well, without the need for any travel.  And counsel attending via their office computers, with easy access to their staffs, makes preparation and circulation of settlement docs convenient and quick.

So, which should you choose for your next mediation – in-person or Zoom?

In federal cases, Zoom is the court’s preferred method. The most recent version of Southern District of Florida Local Rule 16.2, “Court Annexed Mediation,” amended last October, provides that if the parties cannot agree on whether to conduct a mediation in-person or via video conference, it takes place via video conference. “Unless the Court orders otherwise, the parties shall decide whether their mediation conference will be conducted in person or by video-conference and, if the parties cannot agree, the mediation conference shall be held by video-conference.” S.D. of Fla. Local Rule 16.2(a)(2)

State court rules show an opposite preference, namely, that mediation take place in person unless the parties stipulate to (or the court orders) a video conference. See FRCP 1.700(a): “Absent direction in the order of referral, mediation or arbitration must be conducted in person, unless the parties stipulate or the court, on its own motion or on motion by a party, otherwise orders that the proceeding be conducted by communication technology or by a combination of communication technology and in-person participation.”

In most cases, I prefer Zoom.  I’m happy to handle in-person mediations when parties and counsel prefer. But I’m reluctant to give up Zoom’s many conveniences.  In nearly every mediation I find the parties sharing pleadings, case law and documentary evidence on screen. Many of my mediations involve real estate disputes.  In a boundary dispute, for example, there is no better aid to analyzing a case’s strengths and weaknesses than sharing online aerial photos, depicting the locations of hedges, fences, etc., over time.  Zoom’s share screen feature is perfect for this.

The same is no doubt true in contested liability auto accident cases, for example, where accident scene and vehicle damage photos can be assessed together on everyone’s screens.

On the other hand, with Zoom you do lose a bit of the “feel” for other participant’s body language and other subtle clues to what they’re thinking that only a face-to-face conversation provides.  In some cases, this could be the deciding factor as to whether to select Zoom for your mediation or not.  But, in my experience, what you gain with Zoom usually outweighs what you lose.

Now that in-person mediation is back on the table as an option, consider the benefits and disadvantages of both alternatives and pick whichever is the best fit for your clients’ and your cases’ needs. And then go settle your case!

After a long career at Shutts & Bowen LLP as a commercial litigator specializing in real estate and general business cases, Mr. LaSorte now acts exclusively as mediator (over 400 cases so far) and expert witness through his own firm, Alfred A. LaSorte, Jr., P.A. d/b/a LaSorte Mediation.  (  Mr. LaSorte can be reached at (561) 286-7994 and

For additional ADR tips and resources, go to


The Florida Supreme Court Historical Society is seeking judges, lawyers, law teachers, and other citizens to serve on its board of trustees. New Trustees will be elected during the society’s meeting at the 2023 Annual Florida Bar Convention in June at The Boca Raton.

The mission of the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society is two-fold: preserving the rich history of Florida’s judicial system and educating the public about the important role of the courts in protecting personal rights and freedoms. The historical society supports education and outreach programs, publishes books chronicling the history of the Florida Supreme Court and the award-winning Historical Review magazine, and facilitates the collection and archiving of historical documents and artifacts.

Trustees provide leadership, a shared vision, and a sense of mission, and are responsible for the fiscal health of the Historical Society. Nominating Committee Chair and Miami attorney Edward G. Guedes said the committee is “looking for leaders with proven performance and a commitment to the legal profession, time and ability to serve, sound judgment and integrity, and enthusiasm for honoring and preserving the history of Florida’s judiciary.”

The board meets in person twice a year, including once at The Florida Bar Annual Convention and once in Tallahassee. Trustees and members participate each year in the society’s centerpiece event “A Supreme Evening” in Tallahassee attended by governmental leaders, judges, attorneys, educators, and special guests.

To be considered by the nominating committee for a three-year term beginning July 1, visit for additional information and complete and submit the Expression of Interest to Serve application, or contact Mark Miller, executive director, at 850-385-3098. The deadline for completing and returning the interest form is Friday, April 28, by email to