Last week, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the arbitration agreement and award in Bartlett Grain Company v. Sheeder was enforceable. In so doing, the Supreme Court generally approved of the practice of using a signed, written confirmation to confirm the details of an oral agreement to deliver grain.
In reaching its decision, the Supreme Court drew from all the briefs submitted on behalf of Bartlett Grain Company, including AAI’s intervenor brief. The Court found that the signed written confirmation containing an arbitration clause was enforceable both because it was the final written expression of the parties’ agreement and because, even if the parties’ original agreement did not include an arbitration provision, the agreement was properly modified to include it by the written confirmation. The Court also rejected Sheeder’s argument that such agreements are unconscionable. The Court chose not to address whether the Federal Arbitration Act applied, citing the fact that none of the parties raised this issue.
“AAI is extremely pleased with the outcome,” said Tracy Gathman, AAI Director and Grain Committee Chair. “The members of the AAI Grain Committee and the Board of Directors felt it was imperative to support Bartlett Grain Company in this lawsuit due to the potential implication for our members if the Court ruled in Sheeder’s favor.”