Arbitration

JAMS recently has become the latest arbitral institution to publish rules tailored to the unique issues presented by mass arbitration filings.  Mass arbitration filings have become a popular tactic among plaintiffs’ lawyers and a significant source of potential exposure for companies.

Effective May 1, 2024, parties agreeing to arbitration under the JAMS Rules will be able to opt into the application of the Mass Arbitration Procedures and Guidelines (the “Procedures”) and an accompanying Mass Arbitration Procedures Fee Schedule (“Fee Schedule”) for certain mass filings.  The Procedures and Fee Schedule include features similar to those available under the rules of other arbitral institutions, including the American Arbitration Association (the “AAA”) and National Arbitration and Mediation, including the designation of a Process Administrator to hear and determine preliminary and administrative matters in a more streamlined and cost-efficient manner.  For JAMS to assign a Process Administrator, the parties must pay a flat fee of $7,500, at least $5,000 of which shall be paid by the business in consumer mass arbitrations.

We previously discussed here the AAA’s mass arbitration procedures, which were last updated on April 1.  The Procedures adopted by JAMS differ from the AAA’s current mass arbitration procedures in several notable ways, including those summarized in the table below.Continue Reading JAMS Implements New Procedures for Mass Arbitrations

On Tuesday May 16th, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a federal district court does not have discretion to dismiss a case where all claims are subject to arbitration and a party has requested a stay. This resolves a long-standing circuit split. Continue Reading Supreme Court Says Courts Cannot Dismiss Claims Pending Arbitration When Stay is Requested

Last week, a divided Second Circuit panel affirmed a district court ruling denying a motion to compel arbitration of a putative class action seeking classwide equitable remedies under ERISA for alleged mismanagement of an employee stock ownership plan.  The Second Circuit found the defined contribution plan’s mandatory arbitration clause unenforceable because it limited plaintiff’s ability to assert a claim that would result in any relief other than individual relief, and specifically prevented him from pursuing the plan-wide remedy authorized by ERISA Section 502(a)(2).  The Court’s decision extends the “effective vindication exception” and raises questions about the extent to which plans can force individual arbitration of ERISA claims that apply to an entire plan.  

In Cedeno v. Sasson, 2024 WL 1895053 (2d Cir. May 1, 2024), the plaintiff asserted claims under ERISA Sections 502(a)(2) and 409(a), alleging that defendants breached fiduciary duties by purchasing stock shares for purportedly more than fair market value, saddling the Plan with tens of millions of dollars of debt and decreasing its value. Continue Reading Second Circuit Blocks Use of Arbitration Clause to Prevent Class Action ERISA Claims

The American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) recently published a set of modified Mass Arbitration Supplementary Rules and a new Consumer Mass Arbitration and Mediation Fee Schedule, both effective January 15, 2024.  The modified rules and fee schedule aim to address the increasingly prevalent tactic of plaintiffs’ firms launching mass arbitration campaigns against defendants with arbitration agreements in their consumer contracts.

The AAA defines a mass arbitration as 25 or more similar demands for arbitrations filed against or on behalf of the same party or related parties where representation of all parties is consistent or coordinated across arbitrations.  The modified rules implement the following key changes:Continue Reading AAA Introduces Rule Changes Tailored for Mass Arbitrations

The ever increasing threats of mass arbitration have led many companies to re-examine the terms of their contracts with consumers and to include provisions intended to guard against such threats.  One of the options some companies may find themselves considering is doing away with the arbitration clause but keeping the class action waiver.Continue Reading NJ Supreme Court to Rule on Whether Class Action Waiver is Enforceable Absent an Arbitration Clause

Companies implementing arbitration provisions should ensure that they adequately inform customers about the provision and their options for opting out.  The Second Circuit recently reaffirmed the importance of this exercise in Lipsett v. Popular Bank, 2024WL 111247 (2nd Cir. Jan. 10, 2024), finding a bank’s arbitration provision unenforceable over a decade after it was first implemented.Continue Reading Second Circuit Identifies Pitfalls to Avoid When Implementing Arbitration Provisions

On November 3, the Second Circuit reversed a lower court decision denying a motion to compel arbitration in a putative class action against Klarna.  See Edmundson v. Klarna, Inc., 85 F.4th 695 (2d Cir. 2023).  The decision offers guidance (and support) for companies looking to enforce similar “click-wrap” agreements with mandatory arbitration provisions.Continue Reading A Closer Look: Second Circuit Steps In to Reverse Decision Refusing To Enforce “Click-Wrap” Mandatory Arbitration Agreement

Recently, a court in the Northern District of California compelled arbitration in a putative privacy class action, concluding that the arbitration provision included in a photo-editing app’s terms of use was not unconscionable.  See Flora, et al., v. Prisma Labs, Inc., 2023 WL 5061955 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 8, 2023).Continue Reading California Federal Court Finds That Plaintiffs Must Arbitrate Their BIPA Claims

The Supreme Court, in a 5–4 ruling, has resolved a circuit split on the issue of litigation stays pending appeal of denials of motions to compel arbitration.  In the underlying putative class action, Bielski et al v. Coinbase, Inc., 3:21-cv-07478 (N.D. Cal.), Coinbase moved to compel arbitration of the plaintiffs’ claims, but the motion was denied by the district court.  The Ninth Circuit—in a split from several other Circuits—declined to stay the district court proceedings while the appeal was pending.  The Supreme Court now has ruled that a district court must stay proceedings while an interlocutory appeal on the question of arbitrability is ongoing.  The decision means that defendants should be able to minimize ongoing litigation costs while an appeal of an adverse arbitration decision is pending.Continue Reading Supreme Court Resolves Circuit Split to Require Stays Pending Appeal of Refusals to Compel Arbitration

In two putative class actions pending in the Eastern District of North Carolina, the Department of Justice has filed statements of interest urging the Court to deny defendants’ motions to compel arbitration of plaintiffs’ claims for violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

In Padao v. American Express National Bank, No. 5:22-cv-00145-BO-RN (E.D.N.C.)