Arbitration is meant to be an alternate to litigation. Yet arbitration is itself the subject of much litigation over who must arbitrate, what must be arbitrated, whether and how the arbitration should proceed, and the deference courts must show to arbitration awards. This blog is intended to be a resource for litigators, in-house counsel, arbitrators and anyone else who wants to stay on top of the many thorny issues that arise under the Federal Arbitration Act. Our Bloggers →

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First State Court Decision Is Reversed Under SCOTUS’ Amex Ruling

Put this post in the “I called it” category.

On June 12, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court declared in Feeney that class arbitration waivers are invalid under Massachusetts law if plaintiffs cannot effectively pursue their claims in individual arbitration.  On June 20, the U.S. Supreme Court decided American Express, holding that arbitration agreements must be enforced according to their terms under the Federal Arbitration Act, even if it means that low-dollar claims will not be prosecuted.  That same day, this blog predicted that Feeney would be overturned based on Amex.  On August 1, as anticipated, Massachusetts’ highest court concluded “that following Amex, [its] analysis in Feeney II no longer comports with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the FAA.”  Feeney v. Dell, Inc., __ N.E.2d __, 2013 WL 3929051 (Aug. 1, 2013).

The justices of Massachusetts make clear that they disagree with the Amex majority, though:  “Although we regard as untenable the Supreme Court’s view that ‘the FAA’s command to enforce arbitration agreements trumps any interest in ensuring the prosecution of low-value claims,’ [] we are bound to accept that view as a controlling statement of Federal law.”

More predictions about state court decisions in next week’s anniversary post. . . that’s right ArbitrationNation is almost two years old!

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