Petitioner and her husband, W. Nelson Bayles, were married for 22 years. Approximately a year before his death, Bayles and his daughter, Respondent, Kristina Nicholls, visited a financial adviser at Respondent, Ameriprise. Petitioner alleges that Nicholls and Ameriprise fraudulently coerced her to consent to a rollover of her husband’s 401K investment into an IRA. The beneficiary of the IRA was later changed from Petitioner to Nicholls, without Petitioner’s knowledge or consent.
After her husband’s death, Petitioner sued Nicholls, Ameriprise and others, alleging that they engaged in a fraudulent scheme to obtain the proceeds of the 401K. Specifically, she asserted common law claims including breach of contract, negligence, and fraud. Respondents then invoked an arbitration clause in the Ameriprise brokerage agreement. Ameriprise moved to dismiss on that basis. Initially, the trial court denied the motion, finding that one of the two brokerage agreements was not signed. The Supreme Court reversed, but remanded the case for further proceedings relating to the arbitration issue.
Following remand, the trial court entered an order dismissing all claims seeking recovery of the investment proceeds. However, the trial court also ruled as follows:
“What, if any, causes of action Plaintiff, Debra K. Bayles has or may assert against Defendants relative to fraud or concealment following the passing of William N. Bayles are not subject to this dismissal.”
Thereafter, both parties appealed.
Are the claims of a spouse who consented to transfer of a 401k, but did not sign any brokerage agreement relating to that transfer, subject to an arbitration clause in the brokerage agreement?