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Posts Tagged ‘SCOTUS’

International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) Interviews Professor Angela Downes, Richard D. Faulkner, and Philip J. Loree Jr. about the Three SCOTUS Cases Decided this Term and More  

June 3rd, 2024 Application to Stay Litigation, Arbitrability, Arbitrability | Clear and Unmistakable Rule, Arbitrability | Existence of Arbitration Agreement, Arbitration Agreements, Arbitration as a Matter of Consent, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Authority of Arbitrators, Clear and Unmistakable Rule, CPR Alternatives, CPR Video Interviews, Delegation Agreements, Exemption from FAA, Existence of Arbitration Agreement, FAA Chapter 1, FAA Section 1, FAA Section 2, FAA Section 3, FAA Transportation Worker Exemption, Federal Arbitration Act Enforcement Litigation Procedure, Federal Arbitration Act Section 1, Federal Arbitration Act Section 2, Federal Arbitration Act Section 3, Federal Courts, Federal Subject Matter Jurisdiction, First Options Reverse Presumption of Arbitrability, First Principle - Consent not Coercion, Forum Selection Agreements, Loree and Faulkner Interviews, Professor Angela Downes, Questions of Arbitrability, Richard D. Faulkner, Russ Bleemer, Stay of Litigation, Stay of Litigation Pending Arbitration, United States Supreme Court 1 Comment »

CPR SCOTUS Wrap Up

As readers may know, over the last four years or so, our friend and colleague Russ Bleemer, Editor of Alternatives to the High Cost of Litigation, Newsletter of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) (“CPR Alternatives”), has hosted presentations about significant arbitration-law developments (principally in the United States Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”)) that feature interviews of our friends and colleagues: Professor Angela Downes, University of North Texas-Dallas College of Law Professor of Practice and Assistant Director of Experiential Education; arbitrator, mediator, arbitration-law attorney, and former judge, Richard D. Faulkner; and yours truly, Loree Law Firm principal, Philip J. Loree Jr.  (See, e.g., here, here, and here.) These interviews are posted on CPR’s YouTube channel, @CPRInstituteOnline.

On Wednesday, May 29, 2024, Russ interviewed Professor Downes, Rick and me about the three arbitration cases SCOTUS heard and decided this 2023 Term: (a) Bissonnette v. LePage Bakeries Park St., LLC, 601 U.S. 246 (2024); (b) Smith v. Spizzirri, 601 U.S. ___ (2024); and (c) Coinbase, Inc. v. Suski, 602 U.S. ___ (2024). We also discussed what one might expect on the arbitration front from the 2024 SCOTUS Term, Samsung’s mass arbitration case pending in the Seventh Circuit, and recent, controversial arbitration awards rendered against a major U.S. retail pharmacy company and their implications. You can view that interview here.

As always, we express our gratitude to Russ and CPR for hosting these interviews, and, along with Angela and Rick, look forward to contributing to future programs hosted by CPR.

On a related matter,  CPR Alternatives recently published parts I and II of our article discussing and analyzing SmartSky Networks LLC v. DAG Wireless Ltd., ___ F.4th ___, No. 22-1253, slip op. (4th Cir. Feb. 13, 2024) (available at https://bit.ly/4aviBLS). That case has created a split in the circuits concerning whether a Court having the requisite subject matter jurisdiction to hear a federal question lawsuit on the merits, and thus the requisite subject matter jurisdiction to grant a Section 3 stay of litigation pending arbitration, can be deemed to have subject matter jurisdiction over a post-award application to confirm, vacate, or modify an award—or an application to appoint an arbitrator or enforce a Section 5  arbitral summons—in circumstances where, if the application were made in a standalone, independent action, the Court would not have had subject matter jurisdiction under Badgerow. Prior to Spizzirri, we wrote a number of articles concerning this sometimes-vexing issue. (See here, here, and here.)

Part I of the article is entitled Philip J. Loree Jr., The Fourth Circuit Weighs the Post-Badgerow Jurisdictional Anchor—and Finds It Won’t Set, 42 Alternatives 73 (May 2024), and was published in the May 2024 issue of Alternatives. Part II is entitled Philip J. Loree Jr., More on Independent Actions and the “Jurisdictional Anchor”: Where the Law on Award Enforcement May Be Going, 42 Alternatives 95 (June 2024), which was published in the June 2024 issue of Alternatives. We recently submitted to Alternatives a short, post-script article about how the Spizzirri case, which was not decided until after the other two articles had been submitted, might bear on SmartSky. We expect that article will be published in CPR Alternatives next issue.

Although CPR Alternatives is a subscription-only publication (available to CPR Members only), Russ has said that upon email request, CPR will provide, for fair use purposes only, a copy of each of these articles. You can make your  request by emailing Alternatives@cpradr.org.

Contacting the Author

If you have any questions about this article, arbitration, arbitration-law, arbitration-related litigation, then please contact Philip J. Loree Jr., at (516) 941-6094 or PJL1@LoreeLawFirm.com.

Philip J. Loree Jr. is principal of the Loree Law Firm, a New York attorney who focuses his practice on arbitration and associated litigation. A former BigLaw partner, he has nearly 35 years of experience representing a wide variety of corporate, other entity, and individual clients in matters arising under the Federal Arbitration Act, as well as in insurance or reinsurance-related and other matters.

ATTORNEY ADVERTISING NOTICE: Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

 Photo Acknowledgment

The photo featured in this post was licensed from Yay Images and is subject to copyright protection under applicable law.

 

SCOTUS Decides Spizzirri, Saying that FAA Section 3 Stays of Litigation Pending Arbitration are Mandatory if Requested

May 21st, 2024 Appellate Jurisdiction, Appellate Practice, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, FAA Chapter 1, FAA Section 16, FAA Section 3, FAA Section 4, Federal Arbitration Act Enforcement Litigation Procedure, Federal Arbitration Act Section 3, Federal Arbitration Act Section 4, Federal Courts, Federal Question, Federal Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Look Through, Post-Award Federal Arbitration Act Litigation, Practice and Procedure, Pre-Award Federal Arbitration Act Litigation, Section 16, Section 3 Stay of Litigation, Section 4, Stay of Litigation, Stay of Litigation Pending Arbitration, Stay Pending Appeal, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Textualism, Uncategorized, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, United States Supreme Court No Comments »

Section 3 Stay of LitigationOn May 16, 2024, the U.S. Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) in Smith v. Spizzirri, 601 U.S. ___, No 22-1218, slip op. (U.S. May 16, 2024), decided 9-0 that Section 3 of the Federal Arbitration Act (the “FAA”) does not “permit[] a court to dismiss the case instead of issuing a stay when the dispute is subject to arbitration and a party requests a stay pending arbitration.” 601 U.S. at ___; slip op. at 1.

In an opinion written by Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Court concluded that the “text, structure, and purpose” of Section 3 and the FAA all “point to the same conclusion: When a federal court finds that a dispute is subject to arbitration, and a party has requested a stay of the court proceeding pending arbitration , the court does not have discretion to dismiss the suit on the basis that all the claims are subject to arbitration.” 601 U.S. at ___, slip op. at 3. The Court therefore held that if a lawsuit “involves an arbitrable dispute, and a party requests a Section 3 stay, the Court must stay the litigation. 601 U.S. at ___; slip op. at 6.

The Court’s opinion resolves a long-standing and deepening split in the circuits, which the Court left open in Green Tree Financial Corp.-Ala. v. Randolph, 531 U.S. 79, 87 n.2 (2000), and Lamps Plus v. Varela, 587 U.S. 176, 181 n.1 (2019). That split in the circuits is discussed in note 1 of the Court’s opinion. 601 U.S. at ___ n.1, slip op. at 2-3 n.1 (citing cases).

Background

The underlying merits litigation that resulted in an order granting a motion to compel arbitration—but a dismissal despite the request for a Section 3 stay— was a state court action between current and former drivers for a delivery service and the operators of that service. Claims were made under state and federal employment laws based on alleged misclassification of the drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. Claimants sought damages for sick leave and overtime wages.

Defendants removed the case to federal district court in Arizona and moved to compel arbitration and dismiss the action. Claimants conceded arbitrability but argued that the action should be stayed under Section 3.

Ninth circuit precedent granted district courts considering an application to stay litigation under Section 3 the discretion to either stay or dismiss the action. Relying on that precedent, the district court dismissed the suit, reasoning that all claims in the litigation had been ordered to arbitration.

The Ninth Circuit affirmed, but two judges concurred, suggesting that this Ninth Circuit precedent was wrong and that SCOTUS should resolve the split in the circuits concerning whether a requested Section 3 stay was mandatory when claims in the litigation are subject to arbitration and a stay is requested.

SCOTUS granted certiorari, reversed the Ninth Circuit’s decision, and resolved the split. Continue Reading »

SmartSky: Fourth Circuit Says No Jurisdictional Anchor Post Badgerow

March 23rd, 2024 Application to Compel Arbitration, Application to Confirm, Application to Stay Litigation, Application to Vacate, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Award Confirmed, Confirmation of Awards, Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, Diversity Jurisdiction, Enforcing Arbitration Agreements, FAA Chapter 1, FAA Chapter 2, FAA Section 10, FAA Section 11, FAA Section 3, FAA Section 4, FAA Section 9, Federal Arbitration Act 202, Federal Arbitration Act Enforcement Litigation Procedure, Federal Arbitration Act Section 10, Federal Arbitration Act Section 11, Federal Arbitration Act Section 202, Federal Arbitration Act Section 203, Federal Arbitration Act Section 207, Federal Arbitration Act Section 3, Federal Arbitration Act Section 4, Federal Arbitration Act Section 9, Federal Courts, Federal Question, Federal Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Motion to Compel Arbitration, New York Convention, Petition or Application to Confirm Award, Petition to Compel Arbitration, Petition to Modify Award, Petition to Vacate Award, Section 10, Section 11, Section 6, Section 9, Stay of Litigation, Stay of Litigation Pending Arbitration, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit 4 Comments »

SmartSky

 

Introduction

This post discusses the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s recent decision in SmartSky Networks, LLC v. DAG Wireless, Ltd., ___ F.4th ___, No. 22-1253, slip op. (4th Cir. Feb. 13, 2024). SmartSky held that, under Badgerow v. Walters, 596 U.S. 1, 142 S. Ct. 1310 (2022), if a party makes a motion to confirm, vacate, or modify an award in an action over which the Court has federal-question subject matter jurisdiction, then it must nevertheless demonstrate that the Court would have had subject matter jurisdiction had the motion been brought as a standalone petition to confirm, vacate, or modify. That is so even if the Court has under Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) Section 3 stayed the action pending arbitration.

Suppose:

  1. A and B, both New York citizens, entered a contract containing an arbitration agreement;
  2. A and B become embroiled in a dispute that is governed by a federal statute;
  3. A sues B in federal court, properly invoking the federal court’s federal- question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1331;
  4. B demands arbitration, and moves to compel arbitration under Section 4 and for a stay of litigation pending arbitration under Section 3;
  5. A unsuccessfully opposes the motion, the Court compels arbitration and grants a Section 3 stay of litigation pending arbitration.
  6. B ultimately obtains a $100,000 (exclusive of costs and interest) award in its favor and moves in the stayed action to confirm the award.
  7. A opposes the motion on the ground the court has no subject matter jurisdiction to confirm the award.

SmartSky would require the Court to dismiss A’s motion for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, even though A made the motion in an action over which the Court had subject matter jurisdiction, the Court had compelled the arbitration that resulted in the award, and the Court had stayed the action pending arbitration under Section 3.  There is no federal-question jurisdiction, and because both A and B are citizens of New York, no diversity jurisdiction.

According to SmartSky, the dismissal of the motion to confirm would be required by Badgerow.

Badgerow 

In Badgerow the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) held that a basis for subject-matter jurisdiction—independent from the FAA itself—must appear on the face of a standalone, petition to confirm or vacate an arbitration award and that independent basis cannot be established by “looking through” to the underlying arbitration proceeding that resulted in the award. See Badgerow, 142 S. Ct. at 1314, 1320.

Simply petitioning a court for relief under Sections 9, 10, 0r 11 of the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) raises no federal question and does not confer on a court federal-question subject-matter jurisdiction, as strange as that might sound to the uninitiated. In the absence of a federal question appearing on the face of the freestanding petition—such as a claim for relief falling under Chapter Two of the FAA, which implements the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the “New York Convention”), see 9 U.S.C. §§ 202, 203; 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or one falling under Chapter Three, which implements or Inter-American Convention on International Commercial Arbitration (the “Inter-American Convention”), see 9 U.S.C. §§ 301, et seq.; 28 U.S.C. § 1331—the only possible basis for federal subject-matter jurisdiction over such a standalone petition is diversity of citizenship. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).

If there is no diversity jurisdiction, and if the action does not concern an award falling under the New York or Inter-American Conventions, then the substantive provisions of Chapter One still apply but enforcement must be sought in state court. See Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 59 (2009) (“Given the substantive supremacy of the FAA, but the Act’s nonjurisdictional cast, state courts have a prominent role to play as enforcers of agreements to arbitrate”).

A “Jurisdictional Anchor” Post-Badgerow?

The author explained in a recent Arbitration Law Forum post—Philip J. Loree Jr., Weighing the “Jurisdictional Anchor”: Post-Badgerow Second Circuit Subject Matter Jurisdiction Requirements for Applications to Confirm, Modify, or Vacate Arbitration Awards, Arbitration Law Forum (Nov. 13, 2023) (the “Jurisdictional Anchor Post”)— that Badgerow leaves unanswered an important question. It arises when—in a preexisting action over which the Court already has federal-question subject matter jurisdiction—a Court grants a motion made under Sections 4 and 3 of the FAA to compel arbitration and stay litigation, and a party subsequently moves in the same, stayed action to confirm, vacate, or modify an award resulting from the compelled arbitration. Does the Court in the stayed action have continuing subject matter jurisdiction to hear the parties’ motions to confirm or vacate the award, even though there is no independent basis for federal question or diversity jurisdiction? Can the existing but stayed federal-question lawsuit provide a “jurisdictional anchor” for the motions to confirm or vacate even though the Court would not, under Badgerow, have subject matter jurisdiction over those motions if either were brought as an independent, freestanding petition to confirm or vacate an award?

SmartSky, as we’ve seen, says the answer to those questions is no: the parties moving to confirm or vacate must establish an independent basis for subject matter jurisdiction even when the motion is brought in a pre-existing but stayed lawsuit over which the Court undisputedly had federal question  jurisdiction.

SmartSky has flatly rejected the “jurisdictional anchor” theory (a/k/a “anchor jurisdiction”), under which the answer would be yes: the parties do not have to establish an independent basis for subject matter jurisdiction because they are filing their motions in a preexisting  stayed action over which the Court has subject matter jurisdiction.

SmartSky Caused a Circuit Split Concerning the Viability of Anchor Jurisdiction 

SmartSky‘s conclusion directly conflicts with the only other post-Badgerow U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to address anchor jurisdiction, Kinsella v. Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations, LLC, 66 F.4th 1099 (7th Cir. 2023). If we count pre-Badgerow cases, SmartSky also conflict with the pro-anchor-jurisdiction holdings of the Second, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits. Dodson Int’l Parts v. Williams Int’l Co., 12 F.4th 1212, 1227-28 (10th Cir. 2021) (citing cases).

SmartSky’s Petition for Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc

Arbitration proponent SmartSky has added to its legal team SCOTUS ace Daniel L. Geyser, Esq., Chair of Haynes and Boone, LLP‘s U.S. Supreme Court Practice,  and, with Mr. Geyser’s assistance, prepared and submitted a very well-written and persuasive Petition for Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc, which among other things, pointed out the Circuit conflicts which SmartSky has created with both pre- and post-Badgerow decisions and explained why SmartSky believes the Fourth Circuit misconstrued Badgerow and failed to adhere to settled subject-matter-jurisdiction principles. SmartSky, No. 22-1253, Dk. 77.

The Petition also pointed out that, even if SmartSky correctly construed Badgerow, there is an independent basis for jurisdiction under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the “New York Convention”) because two of the parties are foreign citizens, DAG Wireless LTD (“Wireless”) and David D. Gross.

Both of these persons are, according to SmartSky, identified on the face of the petition as Israeli citizens (Wireless was identified as an Israeli company and D. Gross as an Israeli resident).  Smartksy points out that the award therefore falls under the Convention and its enforcement raises a federal question. See 9 U.S.C. §§ 202, 203, & 207; 28 U.S.C. § 1331; 22-1253, Dk. 77 at 13-16.

On March 13, 2024, the Fourth Circuit denied the petition. 22-1253, Dk. 80. That raises the possibility that SmartSky might petition SCOTUS for certiorari, something that wouldn’t surprise the author given that Mr. Geyser has joined its team.  If SmartSky petitions for certiorari, SCOTUS will presumably have to consider whether the current split in the circuits warrants certiorari or whether it should wait until more circuits have ruled on the issue post-Badgerow.  

The author plans to submit to an ADR trade publication an article analyzing and critiquing  SmartSky in some detail. For now, we briefly summarize what transpired in SmartSky and the reasons the Court gave for its ruling. Continue Reading »

Status of Arbitration-Law Cases Pending Before SCOTUS this Term

February 12th, 2024 Appellate Practice, Applicability of Federal Arbitration Act, Application to Appoint Arbitrator, Application to Compel Arbitration, Application to Enforce Arbitral Summons, Application to Stay Litigation, Arbitrability, Arbitrability | Clear and Unmistakable Rule, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Authority of Arbitrators, CPR Alternatives, CPR Speaks Blog of the CPR Institute, CPR Video Interviews, Delegation Agreements, Exemption from FAA, FAA Chapter 1, FAA Section 16, FAA Section 3, FAA Transportation Worker Exemption, Federal Arbitration Act Enforcement Litigation Procedure, Federal Arbitration Act Section 3, Federal Question, Federal Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Practice and Procedure, Pre-Award Federal Arbitration Act Litigation, Professor Downes, Richard D. Faulkner, Russ Bleemer, Section 3 Stay of Litigation, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Comments Off on Status of Arbitration-Law Cases Pending Before SCOTUS this Term

Status of Arbitration Cases Pending Before SCOTUS this TermThere are three arbitration-law cases pending before the United States Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) this October 2023 Term. SCOTUS will presumably decide all three cases by this June, 2024.

 

The Cases: Bissonnette

The first is  Bissonnette v. LePage Bakeries Park St., LLC, No. 23-51 (U.S.), a case that concerns the scope of Section 1 of the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), which exempts from the FAA “contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.” 9 U.S.C. § 1 (the “Section 1 Exemption”). SCOTUS granted cert. in Bissonnette on September 29, 2023. As set forth in the question presented:

The First and Seventh Circuits have held that [the Section 1 Exemption] applies to any member of a class of workers that is engaged in foreign or interstate commerce in the same way as seamen and railroad employees-that is, any worker ‘actively engaged’ in the interstate transportation of goods. The Second and Eleventh Circuits have added an additional requirement: The worker’s employer must also be in the ‘transportation industry.’

The question presented is: To be exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act, must a class of workers that is actively engaged in interstate transportation also be employed by a company in the transportation industry?

(Bissonnette Question Presented Report)

We summarized the case briefly here and provided a link to an October 24, 2023 video conference in which our friend and colleague Russ Bleemer, Editor of Alternatives to the High Cost of Litigation, Newsletter of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) (“CPR Alternatives”), interviewed Professor Angela Downes, University of North Texas-Dallas College of Law Professor of Practice and Assistant Director of Experiential Education; Richard D. Faulkner, arbitrator, mediator, arbitration-law attorney, and former judge; and yours truly, Loree Law Firm principal, Philip J. Loree Jr., about the case, its implications, and how SCOTUS might decide it. You can watch the video-conference interview here.

SCOTUS has set Bissonnette down for oral argument for Tuesday, February 20, 2024 (here). You can listen to SCOTUS arguments on C-Span or on the Court’s website.

The Cases: Coinbase, Inc. v. Suski (a/k/a “Coinbase II”)

The second case  is Coinbase, Inc. v. Suski, No. 23-3 (U.S.) (“Coinbase II”), a case that is related to Coinbase, Inc. v. Bielski, 143 S. Ct. 1915 (2023) (“Coinbase I”), which was decided on June 23, 2023, and discussed hereCoinbase II concerns the application of a delegation provision—an agreement to arbitrate arbitrability disputes—contained in  a contract (“Contract 1”) clearly and unmistakably requires the parties to submit to the arbitrator the question whether the Contract 1 arbitration agreement requires the parties to arbitrate disputes concerning a subsequent contract, Contract 2, even though Contract 2 does not provide for arbitration and requires the parties to submit all disputes concerning Contract 2 exclusively to litigation before the California courts. Is Contract 1’s delegation provision, as applied to the dispute over Contract 2, and in light of the parties’ agreement to litigate, not arbitrate,  disputes concerning Contract 2, clear and unmistakable, as required by SCOTUS precedent? Or, as put differently by the question presented: “Where parties enter into an arbitration agreement with a delegation clause, should an arbitrator or a court decide whether that arbitration agreement is narrowed by a later contract that is silent as to arbitration and delegation?”

SCOTUS granted certiorari in Coinbase II on November 3, 2023, and on November 10, 2023, CPR’s Bleemer interviewed Professor Downes, Faulkner, and Loree about the certiorari grant, what it means, and how the Court might rule on it. You can watch the video-conference interview here. Our blog post about the interview and cert. grant is here.

Oral argument in Coinbase II has been scheduled for February 28, 2024.

Smith v. Spizzirri

The third case is Smith v. Spizzirri, No. 22-1218, which concerns FAA Section 3’s stay-of-litigation-pending-arbitration provision. The Court granted certiorari on January 12, 2024.

FAA Section 3 provides that, once a court determines that a dispute must be arbitrated, the court “shall on application of one of the parties stay the trial of the action until” conclusion of the arbitration.  9 U.S.C. § 3 (emphasis added). Most circuits addressing the question have determined that a stay is mandatory if requested. The Ninth Circuit, and a few others, have held that, despite the statute’s mandatory text, courts retain discretion to dismiss an action where all disputes in the action are subject to arbitration.

The Ninth Circuit below held that it was bound to follow prior precedent concerning discretion to dismiss (rather than stay), even though it acknowledged that the statute’s “plain text” suggests otherwise. The Ninth Circuit acknowledged the circuit split and two judges, in an occurring opinion, encouraged “the Supreme Court to take up this question.” (See Question Presented Report.)

The question presented to SCOTUS is “[w]hether Section 3 of the FAA requires district courts to stay a lawsuit pending arbitration, or whether district courts have discretion to dismiss when all claims are subject to arbitration.” (See Question Presented Report.)

Oral argument has not yet been scheduled and merits briefs have not yet been filed.

The case is more noteworthy than may initially meet the eye. It has important implications concerning appealability. If an action is stayed, rather than dismissed, a granted motion to compel arbitration cannot be immediately appealed, see 9 U.S.C. § 16(b)(1),(2), (3) & (4); but if a motion to compel is granted, and the action is dismissed, then the right to appeal the denial begins to run immediately. 9 U.S.C. § 16(a)(3); Green Tree Fin. Corp.-Ala. v. Randolph, 531 U.S. 79, 85-89 (2000). If a Section 3 stay is mandatory when requested, then there will presumably be fewer cases where courts compel arbitration and dismiss  (rather than stay) the underlying lawsuit, and therefore fewer cases where a grant of a motion to compel or denial of a motion to stay or enjoin arbitration is immediately appealable.

The subject matter jurisdiction implications of the case are equally significant. As we explained in a recent post, under Badgerow, a court’s federal-question subject matter jurisdiction can, for purposes of a motion to compel arbitration, be based on whether the underlying dispute would fall under the Court’s federal question jurisdiction.

But subject matter jurisdiction over a petition to confirm or vacate an award resulting from that arbitration cannot, after Badgerow, be based on such “look through” jurisdiction. An independent basis for subject matter jurisdiction must appear from the face of the petition and cannot be based on whether a court would have federal question jurisdiction over the underlying dispute.

As we explained in our Badgerow post, in cases where a Section 3 stay has been requested and granted, there may nevertheless be a so-called “jurisdictional anchor” on which subject matter jurisdiction over subsequent motions to confirm, vacate, or modify awards, to enforce arbitral subpoenas, or appoint arbitrators may be based. Under that jurisdictional anchor theory as long as the court stays the litigation, the court would retain its subject matter jurisdiction, and could exercise it to grant subsequent motions for FAA relief. While there remains a question whether the jurisdictional anchor theory survived Badgerow,  the theory makes sense, even under Badgerow, and is supported by pre-Badgerow case law. (See Badgerow Post.)

If the Court in Spizzirri rules that a motion to stay litigation pending arbitration must be granted if supported and requested, then it will presumably be easier for parties to assert subject matter jurisdiction based on a jurisdictional anchor theory.

Contacting the Author

If you have any questions about this article, arbitration, arbitration-law, arbitration-related litigation, or the services that the Loree Law Firm offers, then please contact the author, Philip J. Loree Jr., at (516) 941-6094 or at PJL1@LoreeLawFirm.com.

Philip J. Loree Jr. (bio, here) has more than 30 years of experience handling matters arising under the Federal Arbitration Act and in representing a wide variety of clients in arbitration, litigation, and arbitration-related-litigation. He is licensed to practice law in New York and before various federal district courts and circuit courts of appeals.

ATTORNEY ADVERTISING NOTICE: Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Photo Acknowledgment

The photo featured in this post was licensed from Yay Images and is subject to copyright protection under applicable law.

 

International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) Interviews Professor Angela Downes, Richard D. Faulkner, and Philip J. Loree Jr. about the United States Supreme Court Certiorari Grant in FAA Section 1 Dispute: Bissonnette v. LePage Bakeries Park St., LLC  

November 21st, 2023 Applicability of Federal Arbitration Act, Arbitration Agreements, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Exemption from FAA, FAA Chapter 1, FAA Section 1, Federal Arbitration Act Section 1, International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR), Loree and Faulkner Interviews, Professor Downes, Richard D. Faulkner, Russ Bleemer, Section 1, Textualism, The Arbitration Law Forum, The Loree Law Firm, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, United States Supreme Court 1 Comment »

BissonnetteOn September 29, 2023, the United States Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) granted certiorari in Bissonnette v. LePage Bakeries Park St., LLC, No. 23-51 (U.S.), a case that concerns the scope of Section 1 of the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). Section 1 exempts from the FAA “contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.” 9 U.S.C. § 1.

A key question presented by the text of Section 1 is whether the contract is a “contract[] of employment” of a “class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.”  SCOTUS has decided three cases that have addressed that issue—or aspects of it—in one context or another.

In 2001, in Circuit City Stores, Inc. v. Adams, 532 U.S. 105 (2001), the Court decided that Section 1’s exemption applied not to all employment contracts, but only to contracts involving “transportation workers.”

In 2019, in New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira, 139 S. Ct. 532 (2019) (discussed here and here) the Court held that the term “contracts of employment” means “agreements to perform work,” irrespective of whether those agreements establish an employer-employee relationship or merely an “independent contractor” relationship.

Finally, on June 6, 2022, in Southwest Airlines Co. v. Saxon, 142 S. Ct. 1783 (2022) (discussed here) the U.S. Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) held that certain ramp supervisors, who worked for Southwest Airlines, whose work frequently included assisting with the loading or unloading of baggage and other cargo on or off airplanes, were members of a “class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce” for purposes of Section 1. (Southwest Airlines is discussed here.)

The question SCOTUS has taken up in Bissonnette is whether Section 1 includes an additional requirement—one not apparent from either the text of the FAA or any of the above three decisions – that the person performing the work be a member of the “transportation industry.”  The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit determined that the answer was yes, and SCOTUS granted certiorari.

The reason that the question whether participation in the “transportation industry” is claimed to be relevant to the Section 1 FAA exemption is because the Bissonnette plaintiffs were commercial truck drivers who worked not for companies in the transportation industry but for ones in the baking industry—Flowers Food, Inc. and its two subsidiaries (the “Flowers Companies”). One or more of the Flowers Companies owns and sells “Wonder Bread.”

Each plaintiff had to form a corporation and enter in the name of that entity into a distribution agreement with one of the Flowers, Inc. subsidiaries. Those agreements provided the corporate entities with certain distribution rights in exchange for money. Each contained a mandatory, pre-dispute arbitration agreement.

The agreements required the plaintiffs to work forty hours per week minimum, driving vehicles to stores in their assigned territories within the State of Connecticut, transporting and delivering defendants’ baked goods (including Wonder Bread) and displaying them in the stores according to the defendants’ specifications.

The agreements subjected the plaintiffs to defendants’ policies and procedures, which regulated, among other things, the time, place, and manner of pickups, and required plaintiffs to report to the warehouse each day to upload data concerning their deliveries and pickups. Plaintiffs had to obtain and insure their own vehicles.

The district court held that the plaintiffs had to arbitrate their FLSA claims with the defendants, the Second Circuit affirmed for different reasons, and SCOTUS will decide the case this Term, which ends in June 2024.

We think it likely that SCOTUS will hold that Section 1’s FAA exemption for transportation workers is not conditioned on the workers being in the “transportation industry.” Provided a worker is within a class of transportation workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce, then it should qualify for the Section 1 exemption from the FAA.

Aside from the lack of an FAA textual hook for such an argument (and other reasons outside the scope of this post), just last Term SCOTUS in Saxon, construing the text of Section 1, provided a straightforward test to determine who is exempted from the FAA. The Saxon Court provided an easy test to determine who falls within the scope of FAA Section 1’s exemption. The Court held that “any class of workers directly involved in transporting goods across state or international borders falls within § 1’s exemption.”  Saxon, 142 S. Ct at 1789.  Accordingly, as long as a worker is within a class of transportation workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce, it will qualify for the Section 1 exemption.

The workers in Bissonnette are transportation workers because a large part of their work involves driving commercial trucks distributing Flowers’ goods to Flowers retailers in interstate commerce. Just as the Ramp Supervisors in Southwest Airlines were classified as “transportation workers” because they frequently loaded cargo on and off airplanes, so too, will SCOTUS probably rule that the plaintiffs in Bissonnette are “transportation workers” because they frequently drive trucks transporting goods in interstate commerce.

On October 24, 2023, our friend and colleague Russ Bleemer, Editor of Alternatives to the High Cost of Litigation, Newsletter of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) (“CPR Alternatives”), interviewed our friends and colleagues, University of Professor Angela Downes, University of North Texas-Dallas College of Law Professor of Practice and Assistant Director of Experiential Education; arbitrator, mediator, arbitration-law attorney, and former judge,  Richard D. Faulkner; and yours truly, Loree Law Firm principal, Philip J. Loree Jr., about the Bissonnette certiorari grant, its implications and how SCOTUS might decide the case. You can watch the video-conference interview HERE.

Johnathan Baccay, a CPR Intern, and a second-year law school student, on September 29, 2023 wrote for CPR Speaks (CPR’s blog) an excellent article about Bissonnette, which CPR Speaks published.

Contacting the Author

If you have any questions about this article, arbitration, arbitration-law, arbitration-related litigation, then please contact Phil Loree Jr., at (516) 941-6094 or PJL1@LoreeLawFirm.com.

Philip J. Loree Jr. is a partner and founding member of the Loree Law Firm. He has more than 30 years of experience handling matters arising under the Federal Arbitration Act and in representing a wide variety of clients in arbitration, litigation, and arbitration-related litigation.

ATTORNEY ADVERTISING NOTICE: Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Photo Acknowledgment

The photo featured in this post was licensed from Yay Images and is subject to copyright protection under applicable law.

 

 

International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) Interviews Professor Angela Downes, Richard D. Faulkner, and Philip J. Loree Jr. about the United States Supreme Court Certiorari Grant in Coinbase II Delegation Agreement Dispute

November 14th, 2023 Arbitrability, Arbitrability - Nonsignatories, Arbitrability | Clear and Unmistakable Rule, Arbitrability | Existence of Arbitration Agreement, Arbitration Agreements, Arbitration as a Matter of Consent, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Authority of Arbitrators, Challenging Arbitration Agreements, Clear and Unmistakable Rule, Contract Interpretation, CPR Alternatives, CPR Speaks Blog of the CPR Institute, CPR Video Interviews, Delegation Agreements, Existence of Arbitration Agreement, FAA Chapter 1, FAA Section 2, Federal Arbitration Act Enforcement Litigation Procedure, Federal Arbitration Act Section 2, First Options Reverse Presumption of Arbitrability, First Principle - Consent not Coercion, Gateway Disputes, Gateway Questions, Presumption of Arbitrability, Questions of Arbitrability, Richard D. Faulkner, Russ Bleemer, Section 2, Separability, Small Business B-2-B Arbitration, The Loree Law Firm, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Comments Off on International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) Interviews Professor Angela Downes, Richard D. Faulkner, and Philip J. Loree Jr. about the United States Supreme Court Certiorari Grant in Coinbase II Delegation Agreement Dispute

CoinbaseOn November 3, 2023, the United States Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) granted certiorari in Coinbase, Inc. v. Suski, No. 23-3 (U.S.) (“Coinbase II”), a case that is related to Coinbase, Inc. v. Bielski, 143 S. Ct. 1915 (2023) (“Coinbase I”), which was decided on June 23, 2023, and discussed here. Coinbase II involves an issue entirely different from Coinbase I: the application of a “delegation provision”—an agreement to arbitrate arbitrability disputes. That issue arises in a unique context: who decides whether a dispute concerning a later agreement is arbitrable when that later agreement, among other things, expressly submits all disputes concerning it to the exclusive jurisdiction of the California courts and not to arbitration? Is the delegation provision, as applied to this dispute over a subsequent contract, clear and unmistakable, as required by prior SCOTUS precedent?

On November 10, 2023, our friend and colleague Russ Bleemer, Editor of Alternatives to the High Cost of Litigation, Newsletter of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) (“CPR Alternatives”), interviewed our friends and colleagues, University of Professor Angela Downes, University of North Texas-Dallas College of Law Professor of Practice and Assistant Director of Experiential Education; arbitrator, mediator, arbitration-law attorney, and former judge,  Richard D. Faulkner; and yours truly, Loree Law Firm principal, Philip J. Loree Jr., about the recent certiorari grant, what it means, and how the Court might rule on it.

You can watch the video-conference interview HERE.

As we discuss in the interview Coinbase II promises to be an extremely interesting case, one which could (and perhaps should) result in a decision that the parties did not clearly and unmistakably agree to arbitrate an arbitrability dispute concerning a contract that: (a) was entered into some time after the contract containing the arbitration and delegation provisions; (b) expressly provides that any disputes concerning it must be decided in a judicial forum only; and (c) features as a party a person who is not a party to the arbitration and delegation provisions or any other aspect of the earlier contract.

Lee Williams, a CPR Intern, and a second-year law school student, wrote for CPR Speaks (CPR’s blog) an excellent article about Coinbase II, which CPR Speaks recently published, here. Among other things, the article explains the relationship between Coinbase II and other matters previously before SCOTUS, including the very similar Schein II matter. (For a discussion of Schein II, including a link to a CPR video, see here.)

The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately dismissed certiorari in that Schein II matter as improvidently granted, and as we briefly touch on in the interview, a similar fate might also befall Coinbase II. Perhaps more on that in another post, but for now, enjoy!

Contacting the Author

If you have any questions about this article, arbitration, arbitration-law, arbitration-related litigation, then please contact Phil Loree Jr., at (516) 941-6094 or at PJL1@LoreeLawFirm.com.

Philip J. Loree Jr. is a partner and founding member of the Loree Law Firm. He has more than 30 years of experience handling matters arising under the Federal Arbitration Act and in representing a wide variety of clients in arbitration, litigation, and arbitration-related litigation.

ATTORNEY ADVERTISING NOTICE: Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Photo Acknowledgment

The photo featured in this post was licensed from Yay Images and is subject to copyright protection under applicable law.

 

SCOTUS Decides Coinbase, Ruling that District Court Proceedings on Merits Must be Stayed Pending Interlocutory Appeal of Order Denying Motion to Compel Arbitration

July 14th, 2023 Appellate Jurisdiction, Appellate Practice, Application to Compel Arbitration, Arbitrability, Arbitrability | Existence of Arbitration Agreement, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Existence of Arbitration Agreement, FAA Chapter 1, FAA Section 16, Federal Arbitration Act Enforcement Litigation Procedure, Federal Courts, Federal Policy in Favor of Arbitration, International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR), Loree and Faulkner Interviews, Richard D. Faulkner, Stay Pending Appeal, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, United States Supreme Court Comments Off on SCOTUS Decides Coinbase, Ruling that District Court Proceedings on Merits Must be Stayed Pending Interlocutory Appeal of Order Denying Motion to Compel Arbitration

Coinbase - Stay Pending Appeal

Introduction: Must District Courts Grant a Stay Pending Appeal of an Order Denying a Motion to Compel?  

Section 16(a) of the Federal Arbitration Act authorizes interlocutory appeals of orders denying motions to compel arbitration. 9 U.S.C. § 16(a)(1)(B) & (C). This is a “rare statutory exception to the usual [federal] rule that parties may not appeal before final judgment.”   Coinbase, Inc. v. Bielski, 599 U.S. ___, No. 22-105, slip op. at 3 (June 23, 2023).  It authorizes interlocutory “appeals of orders denying—but not of orders granting—motions to compel arbitration.” Slip op. at 3 (emphasis in original).

Where such an order is made in a pending litigation on the merits, and an interlocutory appeal is taken, should the trial court litigation on the merits be stayed pending appeal? On June 23, 2023, in Coinbase, the U.S. Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) ruled 5-4 that the answer was yes: a “district court must stay its pre-trial and trial proceedings while the interlocutory appeal is ongoing.” Slip op. at 1.

Discussion

To Stay or Not to Stay: SCOTUS says the Griggs Principle Controls

The Court initially noted the text of Section 16 says nothing about whether a stay of litigation pending an appeal of a denial of a motion to compel is required. See slip op. at 3. That said, “Congress enacted § 16(a) against a clear background principle prescribed by” Court “precedents[,]” which the Court referred to as the “Griggs principle[:]” “[a]n appeal, including an interlocutory appeal, ‘divests the district court of its control over those aspects of the case involved in the appeal.’” Slip op. at 3 (quoting Griggs v. Provident Consumer Discount Co., 459 U.S. 56, 58 (1982)). Continue Reading »

Presumption of Arbitrability: Second Circuit Clarifies the Law

May 30th, 2023 Applicability of Federal Arbitration Act, Arbitrability, Arbitration Agreements, Arbitration as a Matter of Consent, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Enforcing Arbitration Agreements, FAA Chapter 1, Federal Policy in Favor of Arbitration, First Principle - Consent not Coercion, Labor Arbitration, Motion to Compel Arbitration, Practice and Procedure, Pre-Award Federal Arbitration Act Litigation, Presumption of Arbitrability, Questions of Arbitrability, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, United States Supreme Court Comments Off on Presumption of Arbitrability: Second Circuit Clarifies the Law

Introduction: Presumption of Arbitrability

Presumption of Arbitrability

Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse, 40 Centre Street, New York, NY 10007

The presumption of arbitrability—grounded in the federal policy in favor of arbitration—is an important but sometimes misunderstood rule of Labor-Management-Relations-Act (“LMRA”)- and Federal-Arbitration-Act (“FAA”) arbitration law.

According to the presumption, “where. . . parties concede that they have agreed to arbitrate some matters pursuant to an arbitration clause, the law’s permissive policies in respect to arbitration counsel that any doubts concerning the scope of arbitral issues should be resolved in favor of arbitration.” Granite Rock Co. v. Teamsters, 561 U.S. 287, 298-99 (2010) (citations and quotations omitted).

There is an understandable tendency among decision makers and commentators to interpret the presumption broadly, sometimes more broadly than the United States Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”)’s pronouncements warrant. But the presumption is not an overarching command that courts decide arbitration-law disputes in a way that yields arbitration-friendly outcomes. The presumption is, as SCOTUS explained in Granite Rock—and more recently, in Morgan v. Sundance, Inc., 142 S. Ct. 1708, 1713 (2022)—simply a limited-use tool to assist Courts in resolving ambiguities in arbitration agreements.

The presumption is, SCOTUS has said, “merely an acknowledgment of the FAA’s commitment to overrule the judiciary’s longstanding refusal to enforce agreements to arbitrate and to place such agreements upon the same footing as other contracts.”  Morgan, 142 S. Ct. at 1713 (quoting Granite Rock, 561 U.S. at 302). “The [federal] policy [in favor of arbitration[,]” SCOTUS said, “is to make ‘arbitration agreements as enforceable as other contracts, but not more so.’” Morgan, 142 S. Ct. at 1713 (quoting Prima Paint Corp. v. Flood & Conklin Mfg. Co., 388 U.S. 395, 404, n. 12 (1967)).

The policy—and the presumption implementing it— merely requires courts to “hold a party to its arbitration contract just as the court would to any other kind.” Morgan, 142 S. Ct. at 1713. Courts, Morgan said, cannot “devise novel rules to favor arbitration over litigation.” Morgan, 142 S. Ct. at 1713 (quotation omitted). For “[t]he federal policy is about treating arbitration contracts like all others, not about fostering arbitration.” Morgan, 142 S. Ct. at 1713-14 (citation omitted).

Granite Rock and Morgan express SCOTUS’s intention to narrowly limit the application of the presumption of arbitrability and to prohibit its use as an extracontractual basis for justifying enforcement of arbitration agreements more vigorously or expansively than ordinary contracts. (See here (Arbitration Law Forum, 2021 Term SCOTUS Arbitration Cases: Is the Pro-Arbitration Tide Beginning to Ebb? (July 18, 2022)).) Rather SCOTUS precedent treats it as a default rule of last resort for resolving scope ambiguities in arbitration agreements. See Lamps Plus, Inc. v. Varela, 139 S. Ct. 1407, 1418-19 (2019) (Not applying contra proferentem rule to resolve arbitration-agreement-scope ambiguities  “is consistent with a long line of cases holding that the FAA provides the default rule for resolving. . . [such] ambiguities. . . .”) (citations omitted).

A recent, per curiam decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Second Circuit decision evidences the Second Circuit’s clear intention to follow SCOTUS’s presumption-of-arbitrability guidance and shows how it applies to the question before the Second Circuit in that case: At what point in the interpretative framework for determining arbitrability questions does the presumption of arbitrability come into play? See Local Union 97, Int’l Bhd. Of Elec. Workers, AFL-CIO v. Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., ___ F.4d ___, No. 21-2443-cv, slip op. (2d Cir. May 3, 2023) (per curiam).

Niagara Mohawk explains, among other things, that the presumption of arbitrability is a rule of last resort. Courts have no business resolving in favor of arbitration any doubts about the scope of arbitrable issue unless and until the Court has determined that the parties’ arbitration agreement is ambiguous as to whether the dispute is arbitrable. And even if there is an ambiguity, and the presumption applies, the presumption may be rebutted. Continue Reading »

2021 Term SCOTUS Arbitration Cases: Is the Pro-Arbitration Tide Beginning to Ebb?

July 18th, 2022 Amount in Controversy, Applicability of Federal Arbitration Act, Application to Appoint Arbitrator, Application to Compel Arbitration, Application to Stay Litigation, Arbitrability, Arbitral Subpoenas, Arbitration Agreements, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Authority of Arbitrators, Awards, Challenging Arbitration Agreements, Challenging Arbitration Awards, Equal Footing Principle, FAA Chapter 1, FAA Transportation Worker Exemption, Federal Arbitration Act Section 1, Federal Arbitration Act Section 10, Federal Arbitration Act Section 11, Federal Arbitration Act Section 2, Federal Arbitration Act Section 4, Federal Arbitration Act Section 5, Federal Arbitration Act Section 7, Federal Arbitration Act Section 9, Federal Courts, Federal Policy in Favor of Arbitration, Federal Question, Federal Subject Matter Jurisdiction, International Arbitration, International Judicial Assistance, Judicial Review of Arbitration Awards, Look Through, Modify or Correct Award, Moses Cone Principle, Petition or Application to Confirm Award, Petition to Compel Arbitration, Petition to Modify Award, Petition to Vacate Award, Policy, Post-Award Federal Arbitration Act Litigation, Practice and Procedure, Presumption of Arbitrability, Richard D. Faulkner, Section 10, Section 11, Section 1782, Section 3 Stay of Litigation, Section 5, Section 6, Section 7, Section 9, Small Business B-2-B Arbitration, State Arbitration Law, Statutory Interpretation and Construction, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Substantive Arbitrability, Textualism, United States Supreme Court, Vacatur, Waiver of Arbitration Comments Off on 2021 Term SCOTUS Arbitration Cases: Is the Pro-Arbitration Tide Beginning to Ebb?

Introduction: This Term’s SCOTUS Arbitration Cases 

SCOTUS FAA CasesThe 2021 Term was a busy and controversial one for the United States Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) regarding abortion, First Amendment rights, Second Amendment rights, and administrative agency power.  However, many may not know SCOTUS decided four Federal Arbitration Act cases during the 2021 Term (the “FAA Cases”), as well as a pair of cases consolidated into one concerning whether U.S. Courts may provide under 28 U.S.C. § 1782 judicial assistance to international arbitration panels sited abroad. See Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, 596 U. S. ____, No. 20–1573, slip op. (June 15, 2022) (construing FAA); ZF Automotive US, Inc., et al. v. Luxshare, Ltd., 596 U.S. ___, No. 21–401, slip op. (June 13, 2022) (construing 28 U.S.C. § 1782); Southwest Airlines Co. v. Saxon, 596 U.S. ___, No. 21-309, slip op. (June 6, 2022) (construing FAA); Morgan v. Sundance, Inc., 596 U.S. ___, No. 21-328, slip op. (May 23, 2022) (construing FAA); Badgerow v. Walters, 596 U.S. ___, No. 20-1143, slip op. (March 31, 2022) (construing FAA).  

Three of the SCOTUS FAA Cases, Badgerow, Morgan, and Southwest Airlines signal SCOTUS’s apparent intention to construe strictly the Federal Arbitration Act’s text without indulging in any pro-arbitration presumptions or applying arbitration-specific rules intentionally encouraging arbitration-friendly outcomes. ZF Automotive, the 28 U.S.C. § 1782 judicial-assistance case also  employed a strict, textualist approach to interpreting 28 U.S.C. § 1782, used the FAA to help support its conclusion, and held that 28 U.S.C. § 1782 did not authorize U.S. district courts to provide judicial assistance to private arbitration panels sited abroad—an outcome not particularly solicitous of international arbitration. It is therefore at least indirectly supportive of the more textually oriented and arbitration-neutral approach SCOTUS appears to have endorsed with special force during the 2021 Term.  

The SCOTUS 2021 Term FAA Cases are not the first ones in which the Court applied textualist interpretations to the FAA. There are others. See, e.g., New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira, ___ U.S. ___, 139 S. Ct. 532 (2019) (discussed here and here). But common themes in three of those FAA Cases—echoed in ZF Automotive —suggest a marked trend by the Court to interpret the FAA in a less expansive manner that is not presumptively arbitration friendly. The expression of these common themes in four cases decided in a single term is particularly significant because Morgan, Southwest Airlines, and ZF Automotive were decided unanimously by all participating Justices and Badgerow was decided 8-1, with now retired Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer dissenting.  

Many previous FAA SCOTUS decisions of the last three or four decades have been very indulgent of arbitration. The Court encouraged arbitration proliferation far beyond B-2-B commercial and industry arbitration between sophisticated and resource-laden entities of roughly equal bargaining power.  Arbitration was introduced into consumer and employment disputes and other disputes involving persons (including businesses) of vastly disparate resources and sophistication. SCOTUS made arbitration agreements readily enforceable, interpreted them expansively in favor of arbitration, limited defenses to arbitration agreements and awards, and promoted arbitration to make it, at least in the eyes of some, an attractive alternative to litigation. Critics challenged that view and assailed arbitration as “do it yourself court reform.”  The SCOTUS arbitration decisions developed and implemented an expansive federal policy in favor of arbitration and a presumption of arbitrability and championed a very pro-arbitration approach to arbitration law in general.  

That SCOTUS, the lower federal courts, and eventually even the skeptical state courts that are bound by its FAA decisions, have been solicitous and supportive of arbitration is unsurprising. The assumed (but not necessarily realized) benefits of arbitration have long been touted by academics and promoted by business and industry representatives.  Of course, courts have for many years recognized that arbitration helps reduce docket congestion, which was exacerbated by COVID and remains a problem today, even with the help of proliferated arbitration proceedings. Arbitral dispute resolution is also a very impressive business sector in and of itself, generating billions in revenues for law firms, arbitrators, and arbitration providers. It therefore has many proponents.  

But Badgerow, Morgan, Southwest Airlines, and ZF Automotive suggest that SCOTUS is rethinking its prior expansive, and highly-arbitration-friendly approach to the FAA and might be more willing to entertain seriously arguments for interpreting: (a) arbitration agreements less expansively, and more like ordinary contracts; and (b) Sections 10 and 11 of the FAA strictly according to their text and not in an exceedingly narrow manner designed to encourage, arbitration-award-favoring outcomes. These cases may also embolden lower courts, especially the state courts, to do the same. Continue Reading »

CPR Interviews Downes, Faulkner & Loree About Recent SCOTUS Developments

December 8th, 2021 Amount in Controversy, Appellate Practice, Application to Compel Arbitration, Application to Stay Litigation, Arbitration Agreements, Arbitration and Mediation FAQs, Arbitration as a Matter of Consent, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Contract Defenses, CPR Speaks Blog of the CPR Institute, Diversity Jurisdiction, Equal Footing Principle, FAA Chapter 1, Federal Arbitration Act Enforcement Litigation Procedure, Federal Arbitration Act Section 2, Federal Arbitration Act Section 3, Federal Arbitration Act Section 4, Federal Courts, Federal Question, International Arbitration, International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR), International Judicial Assistance, Laches, Loree and Faulkner Interviews, Moses Cone Principle, Nuts & Bolts, Nuts & Bolts: Arbitration, Petition to Compel Arbitration, Practice and Procedure, Pre-Award Federal Arbitration Act Litigation, Section 3 Stay of Litigation, Small Business B-2-B Arbitration, Stay of Litigation, Stay of Litigation Pending Arbitration, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, United States Supreme Court, Waiver of Arbitration Comments Off on CPR Interviews Downes, Faulkner & Loree About Recent SCOTUS Developments
CPR | SCOTUS | Sundance | Morgan | Interview | Downes | Faulkner | Loree

Steps and columns on the portico of the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

Arbitration is an important topic this year at the U.S. Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”). On Monday, November 23, 2021 the International Institute of Conflict Protection and Resolution (“CPR”) conducted a video interview of Professor Angela Downes,  Assistant Director of Experiential Education and Professor of Practice Law at the University of North Texas-Dallas College of Law; Dallas-based arbitrator, attorney, and former judge Richard D. Faulkner, Esq.;  and Loree Law Firm principal Philip J. Loree Jr. about three recent SCOTUS arbitration-law developments. To watch and listen to the video-conference interview, CLICK HERE or HERE.

As reported in CPR’s blog, CPR Speaks, the three SCOTUS arbitration-law developments are:

  1. SCOTUS’s recent decision to Grant Certiorari in Morgan v. Sundance Inc.No. 21-328, which will address the question: “Does the arbitration specific requirement that the proponent of a contractual waiver defense prove prejudice violate this Court’s instruction that lower courts must ‘place arbitration agreements on an equal footing with other contracts?’” Morgan v. Sundance, Inc., No. 21-328, Petition for a Writ of Certiorari (the “Petition”), Question Presented (quoting AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 563 U.S. 333, 339 (2011)). (See SCOTUS Docket here for more information and copies of papers.) Prior to SCOTUS granting certiorari, we discussed the Morgan petition in detail here.
  2. Two SCOTUS petitions for certiorari that address the issue whether, for purposes of 28 U.S.C. 1782’s judicial-assistance provisions, an arbitration panel sited abroad is a “foreign or international tribunal” for purposes of the statute, which permits “any interested person” to seek U.S. judicial assistance to obtain evidence in the U.S. for use abroad. These petitions are AlixPartners LLP v. The Fund for Protection of Investors’ Rights in Foreign StatesNo. 21-518, and ZF Automotive US Inc. v. Luxshare Ltd.No. 21-401. Information about these cases is available at Bryanna Rainwater, “The Law on Evidence for Foreign Arbitrations Returns to the Supreme Court,” CPR Speaks(Oct. 22, 2021) (available here) and “CPR Asks Supreme Court to Consider Another Foreign Tribunal Evidence Case,” CPR Speaks (Nov. 12, 2021) (available here).
  3. Badgerow v. WaltersNo. 20-1143, a recently-argued SCOTUS case that presents the question “[w]hether federal courts have subject-matter jurisdiction to confirm or vacate an arbitration award under Sections 9 and 10 of the FAA where the only basis for jurisdiction is that the underlying dispute involved a federal question.” See id., Question Presented Report, here. The case was argued before SCOTUS on November 2, 2021, and you can listen to the oral argument here. The oral argument is discussed in Russ Bleemer, “Supreme Court Hears Badgerow, and Leans to Allowing Federal Courts to Broadly Decide on Arbitration Awards and Challenges,” CPR Speaks (November 2, 2021) (available here).

Our good friend Russ Bleemer, Editor of CPR’s newsletter, Alternatives to the High Cost of Litigation, did a fantastic job conducting the interview.

Photo Acknowledgment

The photo featured in this post was licensed from Yay Images and is subject to copyright protection under applicable law.