MediVas, LLC v. Marubeni Corp., No. 12-55375 (9th Cir. Jan. 27, 2014) [click for opinion]

Plaintiff MediVas, a California biomedical company, filed claims in California state court against Defendant Marubeni, a Japanese trading company, arising out of a series of contracts between the companies. One contract contained an arbitration clause requiring contractual disputes to be arbitrated in Tokyo; other contracts designated California as the exclusive forum for disputes.  Defendant removed the case to federal court under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), which requires courts to give effect to private arbitration agreements, and moved to compel arbitration. The district court ordered arbitration for some of Plaintiff’s claims and remanded the remaining claims to state court.  Plaintiff appealed.

The Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction because the district court's order was not a “final decision” under the FAA, which allows a party to immediately appeal a “final decision with respect to an arbitration.”  The Ninth Circuit held that, because the district court did not explicitly dismiss or stay the arbitrable claims, there was a rebuttable presumption that the district court stayed the action pending the outcome of arbitration.  A stay is not a final decision on the merits, and is thus not immediately appealable.