On April 8, 2014, we reported on National Indemnity Company’s (“NICO”) attempt in a Nebraska federal district court to enjoin Transatlantic Reinsurance Company from commencing arbitration against NICO in Chicago and New York under various reinsurance agreements. Both arbitrations involved asbestos liability transferred to NICO, and separately reinsured by Transatlantic Re. The Nebraska court elected not to adjudicate NICO’s injunction claim, but instead decided to sever it into two, and transfer the resulting two claims to Illinois and New York.
The Illinois district court recently refused to compel arbitration against NICO, finding that NICO was a not a signatory to the underlying reinsurance agreement containing the arbitration agreement between Transatlantic Re and the cedent, Continental Insurance Company. The court also found that the language of the arbitration clause was not broad enough to include nonsignatories, and further found that NICO, by its conduct, never assumed the obligation to arbitrate. The court also interpreted the agreements between Continental and NICO and determined that the Transatlantic Re’s arbitration provisions were never incorporated in those agreements by reference. Finally, the court held that NICO was not estopped from disclaiming an obligation to arbitrate because it never asserted any rights of its own for its direct benefit under Transatlantic Re’s reinsurance agreement, notwithstanding the fact that NICO did derive certain indirect benefits. Transatlantic Reinsurance Co. v. National Indemnity Co., Case No. 1:14-cv-01535 (USDC N.D. Ill. June 24, 2014).