Plaintiff Louisiana Safety Association of Timbermen - Self Insurers (“LSAT”) filed an action in federal district court in Louisiana seeking to enforce the assignment of a reinsurance contract entered into between its predecessor in interest, Safety National Casualty Corporation (“SNCC”), and SNCC’s reinsurer, Certain Underwriters at Llloyd’s, London (“Lloyd’s”). Lloyd’s refused to recognize the attempted assignment by SNCC to LSAT of SNCC’s rights under the reinsurance contract on the ground that the reinsurance pertained to underlying personal injury claims under workers compensation insurance, and thus were non-assignable rights.
Lloyd’s sought, in response to LSAT’s suit, an order referring the matter to arbitration, as required under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (“Convention”). The Convention, an international treaty, requires that courts of signatory states “shall, at the request of one of the parties, refer the parties to arbitration. . .” LSAT contended that a Louisiana statute barring mandatory arbitration provisions in insurance contracts reverse-preempted the Convention, under the McCarran-Ferguson Act. The district court granted summary judgment to LSAT, finding that the Louisiana statute supersedes the Convention. Lloyd’s appealed. The Fifth Circuit reversed, holding that while McCarran-Ferguson reverse-preempted “Acts of Congress,” that term did not encompass international treaties, which controlled in the face of contrary state law. Safety Nat’l. Cas. Corp. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London, et al., No. 06-30262 (5th Cir. Sept. 29, 2008).