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Stolt-Nielsen S. A. v. Animalfeeds International Corp., No. 08-1198 (Apr. 27, 2010)

Articles Discussing Case:

High Court Says Arbitrators Cannot Decide Class Claims Unless Arbitration Agreement Specifically Says So – Does this Apply to Employment Claims?

Franczek Radelet P.C • May 19, 2010
In Stolt-Nielsen S.A. v. AnimalFeeds International Corp., the Supreme Court ruled that arbitrators cannot decide class action styled arbitration claims unless an arbitration agreement specifically provides for it. But the Court’s ruling may not become the boon that it seems for employers. An argument can be made that the decision does not apply in the context of employment claims because the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) gives employees the right to engage in concerted activities for the purpose of mutual aid or protection. Employers that interfere with those rights commit unfair labor practices. So, theory being, employers that impose arbitration on employees—but at the same time prohibit them from banding together to arbitrate their claims—unlawfully interfere with employees’ rights protected the NLRA.

Supreme Court Rules Against Inference of Class Arbitration in “Silent” Contracts.

Ogletree Deakins • April 30, 2010
On April 27, with Justice Samuel Alito writing for the 5-3 majority (Justice Sonia Sotomayor abstained), the U.S. Supreme Court addressed class-action arbitration when the parties’ agreement was silent regarding the aggregation of multiple parties’ claims. According to the Court, the arbitration panel’s imposition of class arbitration – despite the parties’ stipulation that they had not reached an agreement on this issue – is “fundamentally at war” with the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) principle that arbitration is a matter of consent. “[A]n implicit agreement to authorize class action arbitration,” the Court ruled, “is not a term that the arbitrator may infer solely from the fact of an agreement to arbitrate.”

Supreme Court Rules Class Arbitration Not Allowed When Agreement is Silent.

Fisher Phillips • April 28, 2010
On April 27, 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court decided that class arbitration is permissible only when the parties to a contract specifically agree. That is, silence does not amount to an implicit agreement to class arbitration. This question had confounded courts and arbitrators for years.

No Class Arbitration Under the FAA Unless Specifically Agreed, At Least for Now.

Ogletree Deakins • April 28, 2010
Today the Supreme Court decided a case important in the employment law field although the underlying case was a commercial dispute. The question in Stolt-Nielsen v. AnimalFeeds International (S.Ct. 4.27.10) [pdf] was whether under the Federal Arbitration Act, arbitrators could decide that class action was appropriate if the arbitration agreement was silent on that issue. Holding that the answer was no, Justice Alito wrote:

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