December 14, 2015
Partner Joseph A. Boyle was quoted in the Law360 article “Attys React To Supreme Court's DirecTV Arbitration Decision.” On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court held in a 6-3 ruling that state laws hostile to class action waivers cannot circumvent the Federal Arbitration Act. The court denied a consumer class action over DirecTV’s early termination fees, reversing a California court ruling and signaling to states that there is no getting around the federal preference for arbitration. Boyle said, "This decision is a resounding reaffirmation of the Supreme Court's landmark Concepcion holding that the FAA preempts state laws prohibiting waiver of class actions in arbitration agreements. Importantly, while Concepcion was a 5-4 decision, DirecTV was decided 6-3, and would have been 7-2 had Justice Thomas not dissented. Justice Thomas' dissent was very brief and done only because he believes the FAA does not apply in state court, and not because he thought Concepcion was wrong. Thus, Concepcion now has a broader level of acceptance at the Supreme Court than when it was decided. This is made all the more important by virtue of the fact that the DirecTV decision noted that Concepcion was a closely divided case, with which lower courts are free to note their disagreement, but that the judges of every state are bound by it. Thus, this decision is both a strong affirmation of Concepcion and a stern rejection of courts attempting to avoid Concepcion's broad holding."
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