2009 Arbitration Case Law: U.S. Supreme Court


Welcome to Disputing‘s 2009 Year-End Highlights. During this year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided several cases related to arbitration:

On March 9, the Court decided Vaden v. Discover Bank. The issues were (1) whether a district court, if asked to compel arbitration, should “look through” the petition and grant the relief if the court would have federal-question jurisdiction of the controversy and (2) whether a district court should exercise jurisdiction over the petition when the petitioner’s complaint rests on state law but an actual or potential counterclaim rests on federal law. (post available here)

On April 1, the Court decided 14 Penn Plaza v. Pyett. The issue resolved by the Court was whether a provision in a collective-bargaining agreement that clearly and unmistakably requires union members to arbitrate claims arising under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act is enforceable. (posts available here and here)

On May 4, the Court decided Arthur Andersen LLP v. Carlisle. The issues decided were (1) whether appellate courts have jurisdiction under Section 16(a) of the FAA to review denials of stays of litigation requested by nonparties to the arbitration agreement and (2) whether Section 3 of the FAA can ever mandate a stay of litigation by nonparties to the arbitration agreement. (post available here)

On June 15, the Court granted certiorari to Stolt-Nielsen S.A., et al. v. AnimalFeeds International Corp.to decide whether the FAA permits class arbitration when the arbitration agreement is silent. The case will be heard by the Court on December 9, 2009. (post available here and Professor Alan S. Rau comments here).
[update: transcript of the Dec. 9 argument is here]

The Court also vacated and remanded the Sixth Circuit decision in Kimberlin v. Renasant Bank for further consideration in light of Arthur Andersen LLP v Carlisle. (post available here)

On October 5, the Court denied certiorari to three “manifest disregard of the law” cases: The Coffee Beanery, Ltd. v. WW, LLC, 300 Fed. Appx. 415 (6th Cir. 2008); Grain v. Trinity Health, 551 F.3d 374 (6th Cir. 2008); and Comedy Club, Inc. v. Improv West Associates, 553 F.3d 1277 (9th Cir. 2008). (order list 558 U.S. is here)

[update:]

Finally, in December, the Court decided Union Pacific v. Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 558 U.S. ___(Dec. 8, 2009). The issue before the Court was whether a pre-arbitration conference was a jurisdictional requirement under the Railway Labor Act. (post available here)

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