Articles

Will freedom of contract survive in the California Supreme Court?

September 25, 2012 | By DEBORAH LA FETRA

Gil Sanchez bought a used Mercedes for $54,000.  He signed a standard sales contract used by dealerships throughout California, that he did not read.  If he had read it, he might have noticed the arbitration provision on the back of the contract, outlined by a black box.  He might also have noticed the class action … ...

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The Missouri Supreme Court ponders the freedom of contract

October 12, 2012 | By DEBORAH LA FETRA

Janet Chochorowski rented a garden tiller from Home Depot for $25.  Although she did not read the rental contract before she signed it, she signed at the bottom and also initialed acceptance of an optional provision that imposed a fee in exchange for Home Depot’s waiver of any claims for damages against her if she … ...

Articles

Are you listening, California Supreme Court?

November 26, 2012 | By DEBORAH LA FETRA

For the second time this year, the United States Supreme Court slapped down a state supreme court that refused to abide by the High Court’s arbitration decisions. In today’s unsigned opinion in Nitro-Lift Technologies, L.L.C. v. Howard, the miscreant tribunal this time was the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which struck down a noncompete agree ...

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President's weekly report — November 30, 2012

November 30, 2012 | By ROB RIVETT

Environment — Endangered Caribou The United States Fish & Wildlife Service announced a drastic (and well-justified) reduction in critical habitat for the Selkirk Caribou from 375,000 to approximately 30,000 acres, based largely on the fact that the caribou do not live in lower elevations in Idaho as originally assumed. We still, however, ...

Articles

Agreement to class arbitration should not be inferred

January 24, 2013 | By DEBORAH LA FETRA

Today PLF filed an amicus brief in Oxford Health Plans LLC v. Sutter, pending in the United States Supreme Court.  The issue is whether an arbitrator can order parties to class arbitration when the arbitration agreement is silent on that matter.  PLF argues that because class arbitration is fundamentally different than individual arbitration, imp ...

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PLF amicus brief urges WA Supreme Court to respect freedom of contract

April 19, 2013 | By ANASTASIA BODEN

This week PLF filed an amicus brief in the Washington Supreme Court in Hill v. Garda CL, arguing that class arbitration cannot be imposed on parties merely because they agreed to individual arbitration.  As the U.S. Supreme Court recognized in Stolt-Nielsen v. AnimalsFeeds, the differences between individual and class arbitration are so great ...

Articles

Massachusetts evades federal arbitration law

June 13, 2013 | By DEBORAH LA FETRA

In 2011, the United States Supreme Court decided in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion that courts could not invalidate arbitration contracts that require individual arbitration (as opposed to a class-wide proceeding) simply because a state’s public policy favors class actions.  In the two years since, state courts have largely been upholding a ...

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Missouri Supreme Court upholds freedom of contract

July 31, 2013 | By DEBORAH LA FETRA

Janet Chochorowski rented a garden tiller from Home Depot for $25, plus an optional charge of $2.50 for a damage waiver.  She signed a contract accepting these charges, including the optional $2.50.  Later, though, she sued Home Depot, purportedly as a class action under Missouri’s consumer protection act, arguing that the optional fee was ...

Articles

Massachusetts high court reverses anti-arbitration decision

August 01, 2013 | By DEBORAH LA FETRA

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court really doesn’t like arbitration.  It doesn’t matter that Congress enacted the Federal Arbitration Act in 1925 specifically to counteract judicial hostility to arbitration.  The Massachusetts court remains hostile, and has shown considerable creativity in striking down arbitration contracts in w ...