Wiand Guerra King Convinces Florida’s Supreme Court Statutes of Limitations Apply in Arbitration

5/20/2013

Tampa, Fla. (May 20, 2013) – Florida’s Supreme Court has held that an “arbitration proceeding” is an “action” within the meaning of Fla. Stat. Ch. 95 (Florida’s Statute of Limitations). Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. v. Phillips, Case No. SC 11-2513 (May 16, 2013). The statute therefore applies to claims brought in arbitration. Despite years of debate, the issue was one of first impression for the Court.

Wiand Guerra King partner, George Guerra presented the successful argument on behalf of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. last October. The case had drawn national attention from groups recognizing the drastic consequences of the opinion issued by Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal which led to this ruling. (Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. v Phillips, 36 Fla. L. Weekly D2479 (Fla. 2d DCA Nov. 16, 2011)) That court held that claims in arbitration were not subject to any time limitation. Because so many of today’s transactions utilize arbitration agreements, the impact of the lower court decision, if allowed to stand, would have been profound.

This ruling also has potential ramifications outside Florida in various states where the same question has been raised. Mr. Guerra expects fundamental statutory analysis will dictate the outcome, as it did in Florida. When asked whether this decision favored any particular group, Mr. Guerra stated: “Chapter 95 limits the time for filing claims but it also prohibits shortening those periods. Eliminating its application in any forum would have had negative implications for everyone. ”

George Guerra may be reached at (813)347-5100 or at gguerra@wiandlaw.com.