Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Who Bears the Burden of Proof on a Motion to Enforce a Contractual Waiver of the Right to a Jury Trial? — Circuit Split

Regions Comm'l Equip. Fin., LLC v. Performance Aviation, LLC, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154782 (S.D. Miss. Nov. 8, 2016):

"[A]s the right of jury trial is fundamental, courts indulge every reasonable presumption against waiver." Aetna Ins. Co. v. Kennedy, 301 U.S. 389, 393, 57 S. Ct. 809, 81 L. Ed. 1177 (1937). However, the Fifth Circuit has not addressed whether [*8]  the movant or opposing party bears the burden of proof on a motion to enforce a contractual waiver of the right to trial by jury. See RDO Fin. Servs. Co. v. Powell, 191 F. Supp. 2d 811, 813 (N.D. Tex. 2002); Westside-Marrero Jeep Eagle v. Chrysler Corp., 56 F. Supp. 2d 694, 707 (E.D. La. 1999). Circuits are split on this issue. See Bakrac, Inc. v. Villager Franchise Sys., 164 F. App'x 820, 823 n. 1 (11th Cir. 2006) (citing Pierce v. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 110 F.3d 431, 435 n. 4 (7th Cir. 1997) (collecting cases)). The Court will assume, without deciding, that Plaintiff, as the movant, has the burden of proof.

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