Plaintiff filed a complaint in federal court alleging breach of contract and fraud against StoresOnline, its parent corporation, IMergent, and several officers and directors of the companies. StoresOnline offers software and support services for conducting internet businesses; Plaintiff had contracted with StoresOnline to purchase six web-stores. The contract between plaintiff and StoresOnline contained an arbitration clause, which provided that: “any and all disputes that arise . . . concerning this Agreement . . . or that concern any aspect of the relationship . . . shall be decided exclusively in binding arbitration.” Plaintiff asserted two arguments in opposition to the defendants’ motion to compel arbitration. First, Plaintiff argued that she only agreed to arbitrate with StoresOnline and not the other defendants, and, second, that the agreement was unenforceable because it had been procured by fraud. The court rejected both arguments and compelled arbitration. The court held that plaintiff’s claims against all defendants arose out of her relationship with StoresOnline and thus were governed by the terms of the arbitration clause, and that a claim of fraudulent inducement that generally challenges the enforceability of a contract, and not specifically the arbitration provision itself, may be subject to arbitration. Hird v. IMergent, Inc., Case No. 10-166 (USDC S.D.N.Y. Jan. 6, 2011).
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Non-parties to contract containing arbitration clause can compel arbitration; fraudulent inducement claim is arbitrable
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