U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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Ninth Circuit addresses enforcement of arbitration agreements under the FAA

February 19, 2016

The Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded a district court decision that dismissed a plaintiff’s California Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) claim and granted a Motion to Compel Arbitration. The Ninth Circuit explained that the case hinged on the recent decision in Sakkab v. Luxottica, in which the court held that the FAA does not preempt the Iskanian rule. As a result, the court held that the Iskanian rule applies to the arbitration agreement, and the plaintiff’s waiver of his right to bring a representative PAGA action is unenforceable.

U.S. Chamber files amicus brief

December 31, 2015

In its brief, the U.S. Chamber argues that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) requires the plaintiffs’ arbitration agreements to be enforced. The FAA forbids states from declaring private claims off-limits to arbitration, and California cannot circumvent the FAA and authorize private plaintiffs to avoid their arbitration agreements simply by labeling the plaintiffs “private attorneys general.”

This case was brought by a private plaintiff who agreed to resolve any disputes with his or her employer through arbitration on an individual basis. Despite those agreements, the plaintiff later sought to sue in court to obtain monetary recovery from his employer for alleged wage-and-hour violations against a putative class of employees who likewise agreed to resolve any disputes with the employer through individual arbitration. The plaintiff argued that his claims under California’s Private Attorney General Act of 2004, which purports to allow private plaintiffs to bring actions on behalf of the state, are exempt from arbitration and may proceed in court notwithstanding the arbitration agreements.

Andrew J. Pincus, Archis A. Parasharami, and Scott M. Noveck of Mayer Brown, LLP represented the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as co-counsel to the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center in this case.

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