M.C. Sungaila in Law360: High Court's DirecTV Ruling Shows No Leeway On Arbitration

12/15/2015

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to send a California class action over DirecTV’s early termination fees to arbitration shows there's no wiggle room around federal precedent favoring arbitration, and lower courts need to fall in line, attorneys said Monday.

Justice Stephen Breyer focused the 6-3 opinion Monday on following Supreme Court precedent and using a well-established test on whether a state court decision places arbitration contracts on equal footing with all other contracts. Justice Breyer had dissented from the  2011 precedent in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, which overturned a California Supreme Court ruling that found it unconscionable for a consumer contract to include a class action waiver. The Concepcion decision cleared the way for companies to insert class action waivers into consumer arbitration agreements...

“There isn’t some monumental standard in this case, but clearly from the opening the court is saying we meant what we said and if you are going to conclude otherwise in a case that the [Federal Arbitration Act] does not preempt something, you have to have a careful analysis that does not make us wonder if you’re coming up with these reasons because you’re hostile to arbitration agreements,” said Mary-Christine Sungaila, a partner at Haynes and Boone LLP and chairwoman of the International Association of Defense Counsel’s amicus committee, which filed a brief in support of DirecTV in the case.

Excerpted from Law360. To read the full article, click here (subscription required).

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