Robinson Bradshaw

Topic: Arbitration

Tenth Circuit Prohibits Class-Action Waivers in Benefit Plan Documents

It is no secret that many businesses minimize risk by requiring arbitration of disputes on an individual basis. The exposure created by a single claim pales next to that presented by a class claim, asserted under Rule 23, on behalf of numerous individuals. To implement this mitigation strategy, businesses typically include in their agreements an […]

Senate to Determine Whether to “Waive” Goodbye to Class Action Waivers and Mandatory Arbitration Agreements

Last month, the United States House of Representatives passed the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act, or the “FAIR Act.” The FAIR Act, should it be passed by the Senate and signed into law, would prohibit class action waivers and mandatory pre-dispute arbitration agreements in a wide range of disputes: Employment disputes that arise out of […]

What should be required to show that a party waived its right to arbitrate?

This post concerns a recurring topic in class-action practice: how a party—through its own litigation conduct—can waive its right to arbitrate. The topic warrants attention, or at least came to our attention, because of a recent decision from a federal appellate court. The case, called Morgan v. Sundance, Inc., is a putative nationwide collective action […]

Supreme Court Requires Unambiguous Consent to Class Arbitration

Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court held in Lamps Plus, Inc. v. Varela, No. 17-988 (April 24, 2019) that an ambiguous agreement cannot authorize class arbitration. The 5-4 decision split along ideological lines, with Chief Justice Roberts writing for the Court’s conservative majority. Per Roberts’ opinion, the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) requires both parties to an […]

South Carolina Court Enforces Class Action Waiver Provision and Compels Arbitration

Brumfield v. Kindred Healthcare, Inc. is a putative collective action brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act by home health licensed nurses and physical therapist assistants alleging defendants failed to pay them overtime for required work activities beyond the “in-home” visits, including travel time, time spent transporting samples to labs, and time spent delivering medical […]

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Agreements Barring Employment Class Actions

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 opinion, held that an employer and its employees may agree to arbitrate claims on an individual, not a class-wide basis. Epic Systems Corp. v Lewis, No. 16-285 (U.S. May 21, 2018). Writing for the majority, Justice Gorsuch rejects the National Labor Relations Board’s view – in […]

Oral Argument in Class Action Waiver Cases Postponed to October

Last week, we observed that the Supreme Court appeared to be waiting for a ninth justice to decide in an important case involving appealability of class action certification decisions. A news report today* indicates that the Supreme Court has also pushed out arguments concerning the enforceability of class action waivers. As we recently reported in this space, […]

U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Circuit Split: Are Class Action Waivers in Employment Arbitration Agreements Enforceable?

On Friday, the United States Supreme Court granted three petitions for certiorari to determine a quickly developing circuit split. The question before the Court is whether the National Labor Relations Board is correct in its interpretation that class action waiver provisions in certain employment arbitration agreements are illegal under federal labor law. Since 2011, when […]

Fourth Circuit Holds that Court, Not Arbitrators, Decides Whether Arbitration Agreement Provides for Class Arbitration

Characterizing an unpublished 2007 decision to the contrary as a “thin reed” displaced by later Supreme Court guidance, the Fourth Circuit held that the question of whether an arbitration agreement permits class proceedings is a “gateway” issue for the court, and not a procedural question left to the arbitrator to decide. Del Webb Communities, Inc. […]

No Class Arbitration Where Arbitration Agreement is Silent on the Issue

It is one thing for a federal trial court to decide, based on precedent and Rule 23, whether a class of individuals can be allowed – consistent with the principles of due process – to assert claims against a defendant.  But it is another – entirely – to contemplate an arbitrator making those decisions:  “class […]