United States: Missouri Supreme Court Punts Two Lawsuits In A Row, On Direct Flights To Arbitration

Last Updated: December 7 2017
Article by James M. Paul and Andrew L. Metcalf

Arbitration agreements have faced tackles and turbulence in a series of cases litigated in Missouri courts over the past few years. In the fall of 2017, the Supreme Court of Missouri issued two favorable arbitration agreement decisions: one involved an aviation school, the other arose from a training facility lease with the Rams football team, which has since left Missouri for California and was previously involved in a different arbitration-related case in Missouri. Other parties stand to benefit from these decisions if they carefully draft and execute arbitration clauses and properly incorporate and reference the procedural and substantive rules of the American Arbitration Association (AAA), Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services (JAMS), or a professional alternative dispute resolution organization that uses similar language in its rules.

A Quick Review

Some arbitration clauses have been enforced by Missouri courts, but others have been called for unnecessary roughness and invalidated.  In 2014, for example, the Supreme Court of Missouri refused to enforce an employment arbitration agreement signed by an at-will employee, holding at-will employment was not valid consideration for the agreement. A few months later, the Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals found another arbitration fumble—a carve out that allowed the employer to bypass arbitration and go to court to enforce noncompetition restrictions—and refused to enforce arbitration with regard to an employee's discrimination and harassment claims. In contrast, later in the 2015 season, the Supreme Court of Missouri enforced an employment arbitration agreement in which the Rams football team and one of its former employees made mutual promises to arbitrate, ruling the agreement was valid and supported by consideration. In the following two months, contracting parties both lost and gained yardage: the Supreme Court of Missouri rejected an arbitration clause because the agreement purportedly allowed the employer to modify the agreement unilaterally and retroactively, while the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals referred a case to arbitration because the parties' agreement delegated to the arbitrator the exclusive authority to decide whether the issues raised in the petition were subject to arbitration.

Two Arbitration Touchdowns in Quick Succession

The Supreme Court of Missouri delivered a one-two blitz in October and November of 2017 in favor of arbitration clauses. These two decisions should bode more favorably for parties, including employers, trying to enforce arbitration clauses in 2018 and beyond.

In State ex rel. Pinkerton v. Fahnestock, the Supreme Court of Missouri held that, if an arbitration agreement incorporates by reference the AAA's arbitration rules regarding the jurisdiction of the arbitrator, then the parties "clear[ly] and unmistakabl[y]" demonstrated their intent to delegate all issues relating to their claims and defenses to the arbitrator for a decision on all threshold issues, such as whether a contract was formed, whether consideration existed for the parties' promises and obligations, and ultimately whether the agreement is valid and enforceable. In this case, the state supreme court held that an aviation student's challenge to an arbitration agreement against his school, the Aviation Institute of Maintenance, must be directed to an arbitrator—rather than the court—because being granted enrollment in the aircraft technical engineering program came in exchange for the student's promise to arbitrate any claims he had against the aviation school.

In State ex rel. Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority v. Burton, the Supreme Court of Missouri addressed whether a declaratory judgment action fell within the scope of a lease's broad arbitration agreement. Even though the agreement had a few inconsistent provisions that seemed to create potential loopholes, such as allowing either the Rams football team (yes, the Rams again resurfaced in Missouri for this case) or the landlord of the football training facility to litigate some of their claims against each other in court, the supreme court enforced the arbitration agreement in this case because "the parties' intent to arbitrate disputes involving the lease is clear." The supreme court did not require any extra consideration to support the arbitration clause, and there was no "unambiguous or unmistakable" exclusion of the type of claim brought in the lawsuit. With this case, the Rams are "2 and 0" with enforcement of arbitration clauses in their agreements.

A New Year's Resolution for Employers: Audit and Update Your Arbitration Agreements 

Even well-drafted arbitration clauses can be difficult to enforce. These decisions could help employers seeking to enforce their arbitration agreements in Missouri. As 2017 comes to a close and employers gear up for 2018, businesses may want to review their arbitration agreements to make sure they are drafted in a way that will allow the parties to enforce their arbitration clauses—or at least get any legal challenges to the agreements on a direct flight to the arbitrator for a decision.

For example, employers may want to consider incorporating in all arbitration agreements a provision that expressly provides for—and requires—that any controversy, claim and dispute, (including any objections with respect to the existence, scope, or validity of the arbitration agreement or to the arbitrability of any claim or counterclaim) be snapped to the arbitrator in the first instance and not intercepted by a court of law. Employees seem to attack contract formation more and more these days, so clearly stating that such issues will be decided by the arbitrator will assist with shifting these matters to arbitration. Another turnover risk would be one party preserving the right to unilaterally modify or rescind the arbitration clause or other terms in the agreement. That penalty can easily be avoided.

Making these adjustments to the playbook in 2018 may go a long way in getting the ball into the end zone . . . where the arbitrator is waiting.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Squire Patton Boggs LLP
Troutman Sanders LLP
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Squire Patton Boggs LLP
Troutman Sanders LLP
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions