In third quarter ’09, this blog reported an Eighth Circuit decision holding that a business that did not enter into an arbitration agreement could not compel arbitration based on an arbitration clause to which it was not a party. In today’s decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (Melloy, J.) held under “alternative estoppel” and “concerted misconduct” theories that a non-signatory could compel the signatory of an arbitration clause (with a third party, of course) to arbitrate rather than litigate its claims (finding allegations of “interdependent and concerted misconduct of a nonsignatory and a signatory” sufficient to compel arbitration). The claims involve certain licensed gasification technologies, an agreement between licensor/licensee that included an arbitration clause, and alleged wrong-doing by a sublicensee (not a party to the clause but successfully invoking the clause nevertheless).
Judge Beam dissented, arguing that the subject matter of the arbitration was only tangentially connected to the agreement that contained the arbitration clause.