Plaintiff Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC (“Outokumpu”) contracted with F.L. Industries, Inc. “”FLI”), a German company, to provide cold rolling mills (“CRMs”), which are used in the production of certain steel products. FLI later contracted with GE Energy Conversion France SAS (“GE Energy”). Both contracts contained arbitration agreements.
Outokumpu and GE Energy became involved in a dispute over failed CRMs. Outokumpu filed suit in Alabama state court and GE Energy removed to Alabama federal court, and moved to compel arbitration under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (“New York Convention”). Outokumpu sought to remand to state court. The District Court denied remand and granted GE Energy’s motion to compel arbitration. Outokumpu appealed.
The Eleventh Circuit reversed, finding that, while the District Court properly maintained jurisdiction because the dispute “related to” the arbitration agreement at issue, it reversed the granting of the motion to compel arbitration, as the New York Convention requires that the parties signed a written agreement to arbitrate. Here, no agreement was “signed” by both parties, as, at the time Outokumpu entered into the contract with FLI, GE Energy was a stranger to that contract, and had not yet entered into its own contract with GE Energy, through which it ultimately sought to enforce the Outokumpu – FLI arbitration agreement.
The Court remanded for further proceedings before the Alabama federal district court.