West Virginia Supreme Court Reverses Circuit Court's Refusal to Consider Arbitration Agreement Contained Within A Loan Contract Held by an Assignee

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals (WVSCA) reversed and remanded an order of the Circuit Court of Wyoming County which denied a creditor's motion to compel arbitration. In so doing, the WVSCA expanded established law that "[a] party who seeks to enforce an arbitration agreement must make an initial, prima facie showing that the agreement exists between the parties." See State of West Virginia Ex Rel. Troy Group, Inc. v. Sims, 244 W. Va. 203, 852 S.E.2d 270. In Troy Group, the WVSCA explained that the initial burden of a party to establish the existence of an arbitration agreement is a light one, such burden being met by producing as an attachment to a motion to compel arbitration a written copy of the arbitration agreement containing the non-moving party's signature. The WVSCA expanded upon its holding in Troy Group, clarifying that "[w]hen the party seeking to compel arbitration received its right to arbitration by assignment, that party may meet its initial, prima facia burden by attaching to the party's motion to compel, along with the arbitration agreement [signed by the non-moving party], a copy of each duly executed assignment necessary to show a chain of assignment from an original party under the arbitration agreement to the party seeking to compel arbitration." Syl. Pt. 3, Ford Motor Credit Company, LLC v. Ronald R. Miller, 2022 WL 19336413. Ford Motor Credit Company attached to its motion to compel arbitration a copy of the arbitration agreement signed by Ronald R. Miller, which Miller acknowledged having signed. Furthermore, the arbitration agreement Miller signed included an assignment to Ford Motor Credit Company on its face. Accordingly, the WVSCA ruled that Ford Motor Credit Company did meet its initial, prima facie burden to establish the existence of an arbitration agreement between Miller and Ford Motor Credit Company, reversing the Circuit Court of Wyoming County's order denying Ford Motor Credit Company's motion to compel and remanding the matter for further proceedings.  

Flaherty attorneys Mike Bonasso, Bryan Price, and Jason Proctor represented Ford Motor Credit Company. 

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