United States District Court, District of Alaska (2022)
In Malin v. Osprey Underwriting Agency Ltd., 595 F. Supp. 3d 861 (D. Alaska 2022), the district
court held that a dispute between crewmembers of a vessel involved in an incident and the
underwriters of the vessel’s insurance policy had to be arbitrated in England as stated in the policy.
(Id. at 868). The vessel had a maritime protection and indemnity policy, which was underwritten
by another company. (Id. at 863). In an incident on the vessel, the captain allegedly assaulted the
crewmembers who then brought suit. (Id.). The suit was settled and the parties agreed that the
underwriters would be assigned any other claims related to the incident under the policy. (Id.). The
crewmembers then filed this lawsuit, despite there being an arbitration clause in the policy,
claiming that the underwriters had wrongfully refused to pay for their claims in the original lawsuit.
(Id.). The underwriters filed a motion to compel the crewmembers to pursue their claims through
arbitration. (Id.). To determine whether to grant a motion to compel arbitration, a court must
consider four factors: (1) there must be a written arbitration agreement, (2) the agreement must
allow for arbitration in a signatory country to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement
of Foreign Arbitral Awards, (3) the agreement must arise from a legal relationship, and (4) one of
the parties to the agreement must not be a U.S. citizen, or the commercial relationship underpinning
the agreement must have some reasonable relation with a foreign state. (Id. at 864). The
crewmembers argued that the arbitration clause was unenforceable and their suit should be allowed
to proceed. (Id.). The district court rejected the crewmembers’ argument, reasoning that all of the
factors were met. (Id. at 865). It stated that the underwriters were not U.S. citizens and that the
policy was written, commercial, and contained an arbitration provision. (Id.). The court further
reasoned that under the general principles of the Federal Arbitration Act, any ambiguities as to the
scope of whether issues can go to arbitration should be resolved in favor of arbitration. (Id. at 866).
Dismissing the case, the district court held that arbitration of the issues was compelled under the
insurance policy’s arbitration clause, and referred all issues to arbitration. (Id. at 868).