UBS AG named Ramy and Michel Lakah (the “Lakahs”) as respondents in an arbitration proceeding, despite Michel never signing the arbitration agreement and Ramy only signing on behalf of Lakah Funding Ltd. and the guarantors, not in his personal capacity. The Lakahs petitioned the state court to stay the arbitration, and UBS removed the petition to federal court seeking to pierce the corporate veil. While the action was pending, the arbitration panel chairman informed all parties that the panel would address the question of jurisdiction over the Lakahs, and the Lakahs subsequently moved for a preliminary injunction. The court granted the petitioners’ motion for injunctive relief, stating that, unless the agreement clearly provides otherwise, courts decide the question of whether the parties agreed to arbitrate, and, without addressing the merits, the court found that petitioners would be irreparably harmed if the panel addressed the issue due to the cost of and time spent litigating before a body lacking the authority to decide this issue. Lakah v. UBS AG, Case No. 07-2799 (USDC S.D.N.Y. Mar. 6, 2009).
Symetra National Life Insurance Co. and Symetra Life Insurance Co., (collectively “Symetra”), obligors on structured settlement payments and nonparties to the transfer agreement that contained the arbitration clause, appealed from a trial court’s confirmation of an arbitration award that directed Symetra to pay Rapid Settlements, Ltd., instead of the original payee. In reversing the trial court’s judgment and vacating the arbitration award, the court held that the arbitration award violated public policy as set forth in the Texas Structured Settlement Protection Act (“TSSPA”) because no court had preapproved the transfer agreement. The court also held that Symetra had standing to contest the arbitration award because, first, the TSSPA gave Symetra an interest sufficient to contest any attempt to force the company to make payments, in the absence of court approval, to anyone other than the payee and, second, Symetra could be subject to double liability if payments were ever made to the wrong party. Symetra Nat’l Life Ins. Co. & Symetra Life Ins. Co. v. Rapid Settlements, Ltd., Case No. 14-07-00880 (Tex. App. Apr. 21, 2009).