A group of reinsurers recently lost both their application for a partial stay of litigation pending arbitration and application to appoint an umpire pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act. The underlying dispute between the parties concerned a disagreement regarding whether the parties’ commutation agreement covered certain reinsurance contracts purchased from various non-party insurance companies. The plaintiff (CNA) filed an action for a declaratory judgment, alleging that the commutation agreement did not apply to the non-party reinsurance contracts. The reinsurers (collectively, SCOR) argued that the commutation settled and terminated those reinsurance contracts, and that the dispute over one of the reinsurance contracts was already the subject of pending arbitration between the parties. The court declined to order a stay in the case since CNA’s claim – a request for a declaration of rights under the commutation agreement – did not fall within any enforceable agreement to arbitrate. The commutation itself did not include an agreement to arbitrate. The court also declined to appoint an umpire since both the existence of an enforceable arbitration agreement between SCOR and CNA as well as the commutation of one of the reinsurance contracts was disputed. The court observed that appointing an umpire before determining whether the parties are required to arbitrate would be premature. Continental Casualty Co. v. Commercial Risk Re-Ins. Co., Case No. 07-6912 (USDC N.D. Ill. Apr. 16, 2009).  

Prior to this ruling, the court had also denied the defendant's Motion to Stay Discovery pending its ruling on the afore-mentioned matters.