June 27, 2019

Legal Trends in Class Arbitration: Stolt-Nielsen S.A. v. AnimalFeeds Int’l Corp.

(and via webcast) on September 27 at noon.

Green Tree Financial Corp. v. Bazzle, 539 U.S. 444 (2003): In a plurality decision, the Supreme Court held that an arbitrator, rather than a court, has the power to determine if a contract remains silent with regard to class arbitration.

Stolt-Nielsen S.A. v. AnimalFeeds International Corp., 130 S. Ct. 1758 (2010): The Court held that no party is obligated to submit to class arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) when an arbitration agreement remains silent about the parties’ intent to allow for class arbitration, and clarified that Bazzle did not establish a standard for determining whether an arbitration agreement allows for class arbitration. The impact of the Court’s decision in Stolt-Nielsen on arbitration jurisprudence remains unclear because the Court refrained from deciding how parties could demonstrate intent to include class arbitration absent express language in a contract, and whether the FAA preempts state courts from permitting class arbitration under state law in such situations.

What’s Next?

The Supreme Court has now granted certiorari to AT&T v. Concepcion, a case that will allow the Court to decide whether the FAA preempts states from conditioning the validity of arbitration provisions on the inclusion of specific procedures, including class arbitration. If the Court finds that the FAA preempts state law regarding class arbitration waivers, then parties with unequal bargaining power may be limited in their ability to seek judicial review at either the state or federal level.

The impact of Stolt-Nielsen depends significantly on the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision in AT&T v. Concepcion, which will clarify whether Stolt-Nielsen preempts state law on class arbitration issues.

Excerpts from “Legal Trends and Best Practices in Class Arbitration: Enforcing or Invalidating Class Actions Arbitration Waivers”, Dirk W. de Roos, Esq., Faegre & Benson LLP.

To learn more about the legal theories and cases impacting class actions arbitration, register today for a one hour program on September 27th at noon, presented by Dirk de Roos. The program is also available via live webcast.
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