Ricky Martin Music Video Case Must Be Arbitrated; 1st Cir.

Cortes-Ramon v. Sony Corp., No. 15-1786 (1st Cir. Sep. 9, 2016).

Claims against Ricky Martin and his record label were properly dismissed in favor of mandatory arbitration, holds the 1st Circuit affirming the lower court.  The dispute concerned an original song and music video that the plaintiff submitted to Sony as part of a songwriting contest sponsored by Sony.  Plaintiff did not win the contest.  Nonetheless, shortly thereafter Martin released a song and music video -- "Vida" –- that, according to the plaintiff, closely resembled his own contest submission.  

Sony filed a motion seeking, among other things, dismissal under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and, in the alternative, a stay pending arbitration under 9 U.S.C. § 3.  Sony appended the "Contest Official Rules" to its motion to dismiss.  Those rules contained a mandatory arbitration clause, requiring that disputes "arising under, in connection with, touching upon or relating to" the rules be submitted to an arbitrator.  The District Court granted the motion, dismissing the case with prejudice.  The District Court found that the plaintiff "received, signed, notarized, and returned" an affidavit stating he had complied with the Contest Rules, and noted that "a valid agreement to arbitrate is presumed even when the signed document incorporates by reference an arbitration provision that may be found in another document, irrespective of whether the party received a copy of the document containing the clause." 

On appeal, the plaintiff appealed only the motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim -- not the dismissal on the grounds of the arbitration clause.  Accordingly, the First Circuit affirmed.  "Because those rulings provide an independent basis for dismissing his claims, we need not address Cortés's challenge to the District Court's decision to dismiss his complaint on 12(b)(6) factual sufficiency grounds."