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COA panel divided on trial court involvement with subpoena

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The Indiana Court of Appeals split today on whether an Indiana trial court had the authority to order a company to comply with a subpoena issued by arbitrators in New York.

Monsanto Co. and Monsanto Technology entered into corn and soybean license agreements with Pioneer Hi-Bred International and its parent company, E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. Based on those agreements, when Monsanto alleged DuPont had engaged in a sublicensing scheme involving third parties in the U.S., the dispute was to be resolved by arbitration in New York City. One of those third parties was Beck’s Superior Hybrids in Indiana.

The arbitration panel issued a subpoena duces tecum to Beck’s, ordering the company to appear at a preliminary hearing in Indiana before one of the panel members and to produce business records relating to the arbitration claim. Beck’s refused, believing the Federal Arbitration Act required Monsanto to seek enforcement of its nonparty subpoena in the Southern District of New York, based on Section 7 of the act. Monsanto then filed a petition to assist in Hamilton Superior Court pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 28(E); the trial court ordered Beck’s to comply with the subpoena.

The majority concluded that Section 7 of the act preempts Trial Rule 28(E), and that in order to enforce the subpoena against a nonparty, Monsanto had to file its petition to compel “in the United States district court for the district” where the arbitration panel, or a majority of its members, is sitting, based on the language in Section 7. That would be the Southern District of New York, since Monsanto and DuPont agreed to arbitrate in New York City.

Judges Edward Najam and Paul Mathias also held that Monsanto’s lack of federal subject matter jurisdiction to enforce its subpoena doesn’t justify ignoring the plain text of Section 7 regarding that the petition to compel must be filed in the U.S. District Court for the district where the arbitrators are. The majority also relied on caselaw that has ruled if the party attempting to invoke Section 7 lacks federal jurisdiction to do so, then the arbitration panel’s nonparty subpoena may not be enforced by the “United States district court,” wrote Judge Najam for the majority.

The majority also held in Beck's Superior Hybrids, Inc. v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 29A05-1008-MI-489, that Congress wrote Section 7 to require the enforcement of an arbitration panel’s nonparty subpoena to be brought in the federal forum.

“Indeed, the only reason why Monsanto petitioned an Indiana trial court in the first place is because Monsanto cannot avail itself of relief from a federal court,” wrote Judge Najam. “Both Monsanto and DuPont are Delaware corporations—and therefore Monsanto lacks federal diversity jurisdiction—and the dispute between them does not arise under the laws of the United States.”

Judge John Baker dissented because he believed as in this case, where there is no federal jurisdiction, Congress didn’t intend to “tie the hands of arbitrators and the States in this fashion.” He wrote if there was ongoing litigation in a Minnesota state court, an Indiana trial court could step in pursuant to Trial Rule 28(E), but the result reached by the majority means an Indiana court couldn’t offer the same help to a sister arbitration panel, notwithstanding the fact that there is no federal court jurisdiction.

“Indeed, this interpretation of Section 7 means, essentially, that only the largest corporations, which engage in business in all fifty states, are without recourse. Whereas an entity that does not have a presence in all fifty states would be able to achieve diversity jurisdiction, and the arbitrators in such a scenario would be able to enforce nonparty subpoenas in the federal district courts, a large entity such as Monsanto has no such option. Congress could not have intended to treat large and small corporations so disparately,” he wrote.

The majority remanded with instructions that the trial court dismiss Monsanto’s petition.
 

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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