Missouri ruling limits Arbitration clause for unconscionability

Posted By Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney || 27-Oct-2011

A case from the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, sitting en banc, with two separate opinions. The case provides a very detailed discussion of whether an arbitration provision in a contract between an insurer and a chiropractor is enforceable. The court concludes that the agreement is unconscionable:

While an ordinary person could reasonably expect general arbitration provisions in an adhesion contract, an ordinary person would not reasonably expect provisions that allow the other party to unilaterally revise the arbitration rules, render the arbitrator powerless to resolve a large class of claims, or fail to provide an adequate remedy for the dispute. The practical effect of these provisions is to grant BCBS immunity for improper conduct in declaring procedures medically unnecessary or, as in this case, re-categorizing a treatment as medically experimental and, therefore, not subject to reimbursement. While purporting to provide a remedy for disputes between the parties through arbitration, the limitations placed on the arbitrators' authority prevent arbitration from providing much, if any, remedy at all. As noted by the trial court, "[t]he arbitrators are rendered practically powerless and arbitration is effectively no remedy at all." Where, as here, the practical effect of forcing a case to arbitration would be to deny the injured party a remedy, requiring the case to be arbitrated is unconscionable.
Categories: Insurance