National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA provided Seneca Family of Agencies with workers’ compensation and employers’ liability insurance for Seneca’s operations in California from 2004 to 2013. The parties entered into a payment agreement that governed the parties’ financing and credit obligations with respect to the insurance policies. The agreement’s arbitration provision provided that, among other things, “any action or proceeding concerning arbitrability, including motions to compel or to stay arbitration, may be brought only in a court of competent jurisdiction in the City, County, and State of New York.” In 2013, the parties amended the arbitration provision to include: “any action or proceeding concerning arbitrability, including motions to compel or to stay arbitration, may be brought only in a court of competent jurisdiction in the City, County, and State of New York.”
Years later, a dispute over the amount of collateral to be paid under the payment agreement arose and National Union moved to compel arbitration. At issue before the court was Seneca’s objection based on the application of Cal. Ins. Code § 11658.5, which requires arbitration provisions in workers’ compensation policies to be disclosed to potential insureds. The court approached this issue in two parts— first, addressing claims related to policies issued on or after July 1, 2012, the effective date of § 11658.5, (the “Post-July 2012 policies”) and second, addressing claims related to policies issued prior to July 1, 2012 (the “Pre-July 2012 policies”).
With regard to claims related to the Post-July 2012 policies, the Court denied National Union’s motion to compel arbitration. The Court analyzed an issue not previously addressed in the case of Monarch Consulting (see )— that is, whether the McCarran-Ferguson Act reverse-preempts the FAA with respect to § 11658.5. Applying the three-prong test to determine if a state statute reverse-preempts a federal statute, the Court found all prongs to be met: (1) the FAA did not specifically relate to insurance; (2) § 11658.5 was enacted to regulate the business of insurance; and (3) the FAA would invalidate, impair, or supersede § 11658.5 because § 4 of the FAA directly conflicted with § 11658.5 in this case.
With regard to the Pre-July 2012 policies, the Court found that any claims related to those policies must be arbitrated, primarily because § 11658.5 did not apply to those policies, and any claims related to Pre-July 2012 policies plainly fell within the scope of the payment agreement’s arbitration provision. As such, the Court granted National Union’s motion to compel arbitration of claims related to the Pre-July 2012 policies. , Case No: 17-cv-01061 (USDC S.D.N.Y. June 12, 2017).