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Malloy v. Thompson

Supreme Court of South Carolina

August 20, 2014

James Robert Malloy, Plaintiff,
v.
Swain N. Thompson, Jr., Defendant. In the Matter of: Estate of Robert L. Chamblee. James Robert Malloy, Respondent,
v.
Swain N. Thompson, Jr., Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., Joseph T. Argo, and Greene and Company, L.L.P., Defendants, of whom Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. is the Appellant, In the Matter of: Estate of Robert L. Chamblee Appellate Case No. 2012-213385.

Heard April 16, 2014

Appeal from Anderson County. Alexander S. Macaulay, Circuit Court Judge.

Christopher A. Ogiba and E. Brandon Gaskins, both of Moore & Van Allen, PLLC, of Charleston; Tara A. LaClair, Rodney J. Heggy, and Mary H. Tolbert, all of Crow & Dunleavy, PC, of Oklahoma City, OK, for Appellants.

James R. Gilreath and William Mitchell Hogan, both of Gilreath Law Firm, PA, of Greenville, and S. Alan Medlin, of Columbia, for Respondents.

JUSTICE PLEICONES. TOAL, C.J., BEATTY, KITTREDGE and HEARN, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 691

[409 S.C. 559] PLEICONES, JUSTICE:

We affirm the circuit court's denial of Appellant Merrill Lynch's motion to dismiss and compel arbitration. Because we find Respondent Robert Malloy's claim is not based on a duty derived from the agreements containing arbitration clauses as asserted by Merrill Lynch, we agree with the circuit court that as a non-signatory Malloy cannot be compelled to arbitrate under these agreements.

FACTS

This action arises out of a dispute between Malloy and Swain R. Thompson, regarding assets of Robert L. Chamblee (Decedent). The complaint alleges that Thompson, with the assistance of Merrill Lynch,[1] acted to disrupt Decedent's estate plan and divert Decedent's assets from Malloy to Thompson.

Malloy denominates his claims against Merrill Lynch as: (a) intentional interference with inheritance; [2] (b) aiding and abetting [409 S.C. 560] intentional interference with inheritance; (c) and civil conspiracy.

Merrill Lynch moved to dismiss and compel arbitration arguing that its only connection to this dispute is through its contractual duties under the client relationship agreements (CRAs) entered into between Decedent and Merrill Lynch, which contained mandatory arbitration clauses. Merrill Lynch argued that although Malloy was a non-signatory to the agreements, any duty, if any, owed by Merrill Lynch to Malloy derives from the CRAs, and therefore, he is bound by the arbitration clauses.

The circuit court denied the motion and found that while non-signatories may be bound to an arbitration agreement under common law principles of contract and agency law, none of those principles apply in this case, and therefore, there was ...


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