Wiand Guerra King Argues Pivotal Issues Before The Supreme Court Of Florida Regarding The Application Of The Statute Of Limitations In Arbitration

10/5/2012

TAMPA, FL. (October 5, 2012) – On Tuesday, October 2, 2012, one of Wiand Guerra King’s founding partners, George Guerra, presented argument on behalf of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., before the Florida Supreme Court. The case Mr. Guerra argued − Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. v. Barbara J. Phillips etc., et al.(Case No. SC11-2513) − raised issues that are of great significance to securities arbitration and arbitration in general. In the lower court litigation, a Florida circuit court entered a surprising order effectively ruling that the Florida statute of limitations (Chapter 95) did not apply in arbitration proceedings. A divided Second District Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling, though its grounds and reasoning were different. (Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. v. Phillips, 2011 WL 5555691 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011)). The impact of these decisions extends well beyond Wiand Guerra King’s client to all persons and businesses that have entered into contracts with arbitration clauses, as these Florida courts had now ruled that statutes of limitations were not applicable to arbitration proceedings.

The argument before the Supreme Court centered on whether the phrase “civil actions or proceedings” in Chapter 95 of the Florida Statutes included arbitration proceedings. Counsel for Appellees argued that the statute should be interpreted so as to apply only to “judicial” proceedings before Florida courts. Mr. Guerra, on behalf of Raymond James, argued that the statute unambiguously encompassed arbitration proceedings, and also that the arbitration contract the Appellees had entered into expressly adopted Florida substantive law as well as the statute of limitations. The Appellees were supported by amicus curiae, the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (“PIABA”), and the Appellant was supported by amicus curiae, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (“SIFMA”), the Florida Realtors Association, the Florida Securities Dealers Association (“FDSA”), the Financial Services Institute (“FSI”), and the Miami International Arbitration Association. After the argument, Mr. Guerra stated: “I was pleased with the Supreme Court Justices’ active participation in the argument and their apparent grasp of the important issues presented by this case. Mr. Guerra further stated that “while I am only representing Raymond James before the Supreme Court, the decision in this case will impact the rights of all parties to arbitration agreements and potentially change the way business is done in Florida.” The argument before the Florida Supreme Court may be viewed through the following link to the website of the Florida Supreme Court: http://www.wfsu.org/gavel2gavel/viewcase.php?eid=359.