Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Florida Statute Of Limitations Does Not Apply In Arbitration Unless Specifically Included In Agreement

In Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. v. Phillips (2D10-2144), the Second District affirmed the trial court's order and held that Florida's statute of limitations do not apply to arbitration proceedings unless the contract specifically incorporates the statute of limitations into the arbitration clause. Judge Black and Associate Judge Raiden concurred in the per curiam opinion and Judge Kelly dissented. The court also certified the following question to the Florida Supreme Court as one of great public importance:
Does Section 95.011, Florida Statutes, Apply To Artbitration When The Parties Have Not Expressly Included A Provision In Their Arbitration Agreement Stating That It Is Applicable?
The facts were described as follows:
The Account Holders' grievances may briefly be summarized as claims of negligence; misconduct, including breaches of fiduciary duty; and state and federal securities violations. In response to the Account Holders' claims, Raymond James filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that the Account Holders' claims were barred by the limitations periods in chapter 95, Florida Statutes (2005). The Account Holders then invoked the provision in the arbitration agreement which stated that timeliness issues would be decided by the court, and they filed an action in the circuit court of Collier County seeking a declaratory judgment. The Account Holders argued that Florida's statutes of limitations do not apply to arbitration proceedings. The circuit court agreed and issued a final declaratory judgment stating that Florida's statutes of limitations were not applicable to the Account Holders' arbitration claims as a matter of law.
The language of the contract at issue in this case does not expressly state that Florida’s statutes of limitations apply to the arbitration claims. Instead, the language states that the contract will not "limit or waive the application of any relevant state or federal statute of limitation." The Account Holders argue, and we agree, that this phrase does not affirmatively incorporate Florida's statutes of limitations into the agreement. The phrase indicates that Raymond James did not intend to waive any relevant statute of limitations defenses.
The court concluded:
In sum, Raymond James did not expressly include the Florida statutes of limitations in the contract. Since the contract is construed against the drafter and since the language of the statute does not state that it applies to arbitration, we hold that Florida's statutes of limitations do not apply to arbitrations where the arbitration agreement does not expressly provide for their application. Thus, the trial court correctly determined that Florida's statutes of limitation do not bar the Account Holders' claims.


Post a Comment