1. In 2002, Douglas opened a checking account with Union Planters Bank and signed a signature card with an arbitration provision. That clause included a “delegation provision,” delegating the question of a dispute’s arbitrability to an arbitrator. She closed the account a year later. Douglas v. Regions Bank, No. 12-60877 (July 7, 2014).
2. In 2007, Douglas was injured in a car accident, after which she brought suit against her lawyer and his bank for allegedly embezzling her settlement funds. That bank – Regions Bank – had acquired Union Planters in a 2005 transaction.
3. Regions Bank moved to compel arbitration. The district court denied the motion on a “successor-in-interest” theory that Douglas did not defend on appeal. She argued that the delegation provision was not relevant to this dispute, and the Fifth Circuit agreed, adopting a standard under which Douglas would “only . . . bind herself to arbitrate gateway questions of arbitrability if the argument that the dispute falls within the scope of the agreement is not wholly groundless.” A dissent argued that this test was foreclosed by recent Supreme Court authority on related issues about an arbitrator’s authority.