You can't make this stuff up. Sheena Monnin was the winner
in the Miss Pennsylvania USA 2012 competition. After her victory,
she was signed up by Miss Universe LP LLP (partly owned by a
well-known property developer with bad hair and a taste for shiny
ties) to be a contestant in the Miss USA Pageant. Monnin claims she
barely read the 'extremely dense' agreements, which were
'full of legal terms', although she did initial each page
and sign the last ones. On the day of the contest, the backstage
chatter amongst some of the participants (conducted by text;
presumably you can stash a phone under your sash) was that the
whole thing was rigged: one of the contestants had allegedly seen a
piece of paper which gave the names of the five finalists, even
before the rest of the contestants had done their song-and-dance
routines and stated how they would end world poverty (or whatever).
Monnin was evidently outraged, as she emailed the agent who had
signed her up, indicating she was terminating the contract on the
grounds that there had not been 'fair play' -- and on
account of a decision by Miss Universe LP LLP to allow
transgendered contestants. As people are wont to do, she posted on
Facebook saying that the contest was 'fraudulent' and
'lacking in morals' and later reiterated her claims on a TV
talk-show. Miss Universe LP LLP, none too pleased, threatened legal
action and pointed to the arbitration clause in her contracts,
which required any dispute to be settled first through direct
discussion then through binding arbitration. Monnin failed to
participate in the arbitration, at least partly (it seems) on the
advice of her lawyer, one Klineburger. Miss Universe LP LLP filed a
demand for arbitration with the arbitrator and obtained an award
for US$5 million for defamation, tortious interference with
prospective economic advantage and breach of contract.
Monnin moved to have the arbitration award set aside, on the
grounds that the arbitrator exceeded his powers. Monnin also argued
she had not been notified (actually or constructively) of the
arbitration and the award was based on a manifest disregard for the
law. The district court in Manhattan rejected all of Monnin's
claims: Miss Universe LP LLP v Monnin (SDNY, 2 July 2013).
The arbitrator did not exceed his jurisdiction, considering matters
which were properly put before him and not manifestly misapplying
the law to them. Monnin clearly had received actual notice of the
arbitration, both directly and through her counsel, and had no
basis to wiggle out of the arbitration clause on the grounds she
wasn't bound by it. It was true, however, that her lawyer had
done her a disservice in repeatedly telling her that she was not
bound to participate in the process, made worse by a last-ditch
attempt to say he had never represented her and was not a New York
lawyer in any event. Klineburger's serious deficiencies as a
lawyer could not, however, alter the fact that a court has very
limited ability to overturn an arbitral award: 'Sympathy, or
apparent inequity, may play no role in a court's legal
analysis, and here, the law is clear', in the words of Oetken
J, who affirmed the $5-million award.
It's not often that our little blog intersects with such titanic struggles as the U.S. presidential race – and by using the term "titanic" I certainly don't mean to suggest that anything disastrous is in the future.
J.J. v. C.C., is an interesting case in which the court held that an automotive garage owes a duty to minor children to secure the vehicles on the premises by locking the cars and safely storing the car keys...
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
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