Using Wrong Arbitrator Voids Decision

In 2011, Cathy Pitts purchased a car with Respondent Car Credit, Inc. This transaction included an arbitration agreement that Pitts signed. The agreement stated that if a dispute arose, it would be resolved by an arbitration organization, and if no specific organization was listed it would be handled by the National Arbitration Forum (NAF). There was no organization listed, so the NAF would have needed to arbitrate in this case. However, at the time of the dispute, the NAF had ceased arbitrating consumer claims, so the trial court ordered Pitts to file her claim before the American Arbitration Association (AAA).

The AAA entered an award finding in favor of Car Credit, and the trial court confirmed the arbitration award. Pitts appealed, and the Missouri Court of Appeals reversed the circuit court’s order confirming award, stating that the AAA arbitrator lacked power to hear and resolve the disputes since the parties had initially agreed to arbitrate before the NAF.

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