Say you settle a class action. The pact calls for future royalty payments. A dispute ensues over accounting for the royalties. The settling plaintiffs invoke the peace treaty's arbitration clause. The arbitration panel rules against them.
The settling plaintiffs later raise another accounting complaint. They again file an arbitration proceeding. But the settling defendants sue in federal court for a ruling that the outcome in the first arbitration control under the res judicata doctrine and therefore bars the second one. The district court agrees with the settling plaintiffs but orders that the old panel decide the res judicata issue. The settling plaintiffs appeal.
The Tenth Circuit reverses. It cites the arbitration clause, which says:
The meaning and effect of this Agreement and any and all disputes . . . arising from or relating in any way to . . . this Agreement shall be submitted to and decided by binding arbitration . . . . Within ten (10) days after notice by one party to the other of its demand for arbitration, which demand shall also set forth the matter or matters to be submitted and the name of its arbitrator, the other party shall name its arbitrator, identify any other matter(s) to be submitted, and so notify the demanding party. Within ten (10) days thereafter the two arbitrators shall select a third arbitrator.
Shell Oil Co. v. The CO2 Committee, No. 08-2281, at *8 (10th Cir. Dec. 21, 2009). The panel holds that the broad reach of the arbitration clause — "any and all disputes . . . arising from or relating in any way to . . . this Agreement" — covers the settling defendants' res judicata defense and that the part about selecting arbitrators requires choosing a new panel for each time a party demanded arbitration.
Blawgletter wishes to point out that a more sticky issue would have presented itself had a party demanded Arbitration B before Arbitration A ended in a final judgment. We'd guess that the outcome would depend in part on how far Arbitration A had gotten and on how much the issues in Arbitration B overlapped with those in Arbitration A. Do you roll Arbitration B into Arbitration A? Does the panel decide? Which one? What if they disagree? And so on?