In 1986, Pine Top Insurance Company became insolvent and was placed into liquidation. The liquidator eventually sold Pine Top’s accounts receivable, including reinsurance claims, to an entity named Pine Top Receivables of Illinois, LLC. In 2015, Pine Top Receivables sued Transfercom, Ltd. to collect on an assigned reinsurance claim and sought to compel Transfercom to arbitrate the claim pursuant to the underlying reinsurance agreement.
Several years earlier, Pine Top had unsuccessfully sued a Uruguayan entity in a federal district court in Illinois, and similarly sought to compel arbitration. That court and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals determined that Pine Top Receivables had no right to enforce the arbitration clause in the reinsurance contract because, among other reasons, the assignment of the reinsurance claims from the liquidator conveyed only the right to collect the debt but did not convey the contractual right to demand arbitration.
In the current litigation, Transfercom argued that the Seventh Circuit’s decision collaterally estopped Pine Top Receivables from relitigating the issue of whether it was entitled to demand arbitration with respect to the assigned reinsurance claims. The trial court agreed with Transfercom and denied Pine Top’s motion to compel. And on appeal, the court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. The appellate court reasoned that the earlier case resolved on the merits the issue of whether Pine Top Receivables was entitled to demand arbitration of claims assigned to it by the liquidator. The appellate court further explained that once the Seventh Circuit resolved the arbitration issue in Pine Top Receivables’s interlocutory appeal in the earlier litigation, the issue could not be revisited and the judgment on that issue was final. , Case No. 15 L 009145, (Ill. App. Ct. Mar. 31, 2017).