Supreme Court Summaries
Opinions filed February 3, 2011
No. 109485 Carr v. Gateway, Inc.
Appellate citation: 395 Ill. App. 3d 1079.
JUSTICE GARMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Karmeier, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.
This Madison County litigation arose from the 2001 purchase of a computer which had allegedly been misrepresented as to its speed. Defendant vendor, Gateway, Inc., sought to dismiss the suit and compel arbitration based on what it claimed was a sales contract. In that purported agreement, the National Arbitration Forum was designated as the exclusive arbitrator. Gateway filed a motion to dismiss the suit or compel arbitration, which was denied, and it appealed. The appellate court then had to deal with the fact that the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) had stopped accepting consumer arbitrations. That court noted that the NAF had been designated as the exclusive arbitration forum, with no provision for a substitute. Although the Federal Arbitration Act contains a provision at section 5 which allows a circuit court to appoint a substitute arbitrator if the designated arbitrator is unavailable, the appellate court held that this provision should not be utilized because the exclusive designation was an integral part of the arbitration clause. Also, the arbitration agreement provided penalties for seeking to arbitrate elsewhere. The appellate court affirmed the circuit court’s order denying Gateway’s motion to dismiss or compel arbitration. Gateway appealed.
In this decision, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court, agreeing that the unavailability of the designated arbitrator brought the arbitration agreement to an end.
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