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Pittsburgh Logistics Systems, Inc. v. B. Keppel Trucking, LLC

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

January 6, 2017

PITTSBURGH LOGISTICS SYSTEMS, INC. Appellant
v.
B. KEPPEL TRUCKING, LLC

         Appeal from the Order December 1, 2015 In the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County Civil Division at No(s): G.D.13-18152

          BEFORE: BENDER, P.J.E., RANSOM, J., and MUSMANNO, J.

          OPINION

          RANSOM, J.

         Pittsburgh Logistics Systems, Inc. (Appellant) appeals from the order entered December 1, 2015, granting B. Keppel Trucking, LLC's (Appellee) petition to confirm an arbitration award and granting judgement thereon. We affirm.

         Appellant is a third-party logistics company that, among other services, brokers transportation of freight between shippers and trucking companies. See Pet. To Stay Arbitration 9/10/13. In September of 2009, Appellant began doing business with Appellee, a large trucking company. Keppel Dep., 12/3/15, 21:25. That month, an employee of Appellant called to offer Appellee a load for pick-up. Spears Dep., 1/31/14, 8:23-9:10. The parties orally agreed on the price of the shipment. Id. at 7:10. Appellee then received a "carrier set-up packet" containing various forms, as well as the Motor Carrier Service Contract ("MCSC"). Id. at 10:20- 11:9. Appellee signed and returned the documents to Appellant. Id. at 12:1-4.

         Other carriers used Appellant's web-based system, which enables carriers to bid on loads posted by Appellant on behalf of its customers. Homan Dep., 12/6/13, 23:5-16. If a carrier is awarded a shipment, the carrier receives an email confirmation that contains a hyperlink to the Appellant's Carrier Terms of Use ("Terms of Use"). The Terms of Use do not include an arbitration clause. See Carrier Terms of Use.

         Regarding this first job, Appellee did not bid via the online system; Appellant contacted Appellee directly. Spears Dep. At 8:23-9:10. Nevertheless, twelve days after Appellee completed delivery, Appellant emailed an award confirmation containing a hyperlink to the Terms of Use. Id. at 9:11-20.

         In May of 2012, Appellant contacted Appellee for assistance with another client, Streamlite. Id. at 14:25, 15:1-25, 16:1-6. Appellant called Appellee and other carriers for their pricing and ultimately awarded Appellee the job. Id. Thereafter, Appellant received weekly email confirmations arranging shipments for the following week. Keppel Dep. at 68:1-25, 69:1-6. This practice continued until June 2012, when Streamlite abruptly went out of business and Appellant stopped paying Appellee for shipments. Id. at 19:22-20:14. Appellant pursued legal action against Streamlite and was able to recover a portion of Streamlite's unpaid balance. See Affidavit of Ryan Boushell 5/13/14 at ¶ 10. Appellant offered Appellee $9, 812.87, 19% of the $50, 513.15 owed to Appellee. Id. at ¶ 12.

         Appellee refused payment and, on July 23, 2013, filed a demand for arbitration against Appellant seeking payment of the full $50, 513.15. Appellant brought a Petition to Stay Arbitration pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 7304(b), which the lower court denied. See Petition to Stay Arbitration, 10/21/13. The parties proceeded to arbitration, and ultimately Appellee was awarded $50, 952.09, plus $637.50 in costs. See Arbitration Award 2/20/15. Appellant filed a Petition to Vacate the Arbitration Award. On April 10, 2015, the Petition to Vacate was denied. Appellant filed an appeal, which was quashed as premature. On December 1, 2015, the lower court granted Appellee's Petition to Confirm the Arbitration Award and entered judgment in its favor. This appeal followed.

         Appellant timely filed a court-ordered PA.R.A.P. 1925(b) statement. The trial court issued a responsive opinion.

Appellant raises the following issue for review:
Did the Court of Common Pleas err in its denial of Appellant's Petition to Stay arbitration and in its subsequent confirmation of the arbitration award were [sic] there was no enforceable arbitration agreement between the parties?

Appellant's Brief at 5.

         Appellant contends the trial court erred in compelling arbitration of Appellee's claim for damages. [1] Appellate courts employ a two-part test to determine whether a trial court should have compelled arbitration: the court must determine (1) whether a valid agreement to arbitrate exists, and (2) whether the dispute is within the ...


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