US Supreme Court Lets Stand Garden State Arbitration Case

October 6, 2003 ( - The nation's high court has refused to disturb a state-court ruling allowing a fired Cigna Insurance Co. lawyer to sue the company even though Cigna had a corporate arbitration policy.

Cigna had asked for the US Supreme Court review of rulings by New Jersey courts upholding Paul Leodori’s litigation rights, arguing the state decisions didn’t fit with the Federal Arbitration Act and recent high court precedent, Dow Jones reported.

The case stems from Leodori’s 1999 firing from Cigna after misconduct allegations he reported internally at the company were declared unfounded by a third party-investigator. After Leodori challenged the firing in a New Jersey court, Cigna argued that the suit was barred by its employee arbitration policy as explained in its employment policy publications. A lower court New Jersey judge agreed and kicked Leodori’s lawsuit into arbitration.

A New Jersey appeals panel overruled that move, pointing out that Leodori had not signed any documents that specifically gave up his ability to go to court instead of into arbitration. The New Jersey Supreme Court upheld that decision in February 2003.

Leodori, in his US Supreme Court brief, maintains he never submitted to Cigna’s arbitration policy. “There is no agreement if the contract is not signed,” Leodori said.

The case is Cigna Corp. v. Leodori, 02-1680.