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In re Application of Whitehaven S.F., LLC

United States District Court, S.D. New York

September 10, 2014

In the Matter of the Application of WHITEHAVEN S.F., LLC, Petitioner,
v.
STEVEN SPANGLER, LANCE WITTRY, ESQ., WITTRY LAW OFFICES and HARVEY THATCHER, Respondents

Page 334

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 335

For Whitehaven S.F., LLC, In The Matter of the Application of, Petitioner: Eileen Theresa Rohan, Law Offices of Eileen T. Rohan, Hudson, NY.

For Steven Spangler, For an order compelling arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act, Wittry Law Offices, For an order compelling arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act, Respondents: Daniel Lance Wittry, LEAD ATTORNEY, Wittry Law Office, Indianapolis, IN.

For Esq. Lance Wittry, For an order compelling arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act, Respondent: Daniel Lance Wittry, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Wittry Law Office, Indianapolis, IN.

For Harvey Thatcher, For an order compelling arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act, Respondent: Eric Noah Aglow, LEAD ATTORNEY, UAW Legal Services Plan, Woodbridge, NJ.

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OPINION AND ORDER

Edgardo Ramos, United States District Judge.

The instant dispute concerns the validity of an arbitration clause in a litigation financing agreement. Respondent Steven Spangler (" Spangler" or " Respondent Spangler" ) sought funding for a medical malpractice action in Indiana (the " Skyleign Spangler Litigation" ) after his daughter, Skyleign Spangler, was delivered stillborn in 2003. To that end, Spangler entered a loan agreement with a man named Harvey Thatcher (" Thatcher" ) in October 2007 and, pursuant to a separate

Page 337

contract (the " Finance Agreement" ), obtained additional funding from Whitehaven S.F., LLC (" Whitehaven" or " Petitioner" ), a legal financier, in June 2008. Among other terms, the Finance Agreement contained an arbitration clause.

The Skyleign Spangler Litigation settled in approximately 2012 or 2013. In June 2013, Spangler, deeming the litigation financing agreements that he previously entered unconscionable, filed an action in Indiana state court against Whitehaven and Thatcher, seeking to extinguish their liens and void the Finance Agreement (the " Indiana Proceeding" ). Thatcher filed a counterclaim in that action, through which he seeks to recover his losses. Whitehaven, in turn, filed the instant action as a petition for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order. Although this Court rejected Whitehaven's initial request for injunctive relief to stay the Indiana Proceeding and compel arbitration, it directed the parties to submit further briefing on (1) the amount in controversy and (2) the enforceability of the arbitration clause in the Finance Agreement.

Presently before the Court is Whitehaven's motion to compel arbitration in accordance with the arbitration clause in the Finance Agreement. Doc. 6 (" Mem. Supp. Mot. Compel" ). For the reasons discussed below, the motion is GRANTED.

I. Factual Background

A. Parties

Petitioner Whitehaven is a Delaware corporation with a principal place of business in New York. Mem. Supp. Mot. Compel 5. Whitehaven provides non-recourse cash advances to injured individuals who have a pending claim or lawsuit, meaning that they do not have to repay the money advanced by Whitehaven in the event that their lawsuit is " lost, dismissed or otherwise result[s] in no recovery." Id.

Respondent Spangler is a Florida resident. Id. Lance Wittry (" Wittry" ), an Indiana attorney, represents Spangler. Thatcher is also an Indiana resident. Harvey Thatcher Answer and Countercl., Spangler v. Thatcher, Whitehaven S.F. LLC (Ind. S.Ct. Marion Cnty. 2013). Whitehaven initially named Thatcher, Wittry and his firm, the Wittry Law Offices, as Respondents in the instant action. Spangler Opp. ...


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