Class Arbitration Is Almost Dead

Law360 (April 26, 2019, 5:02 PM EDT) -- On April 24, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court imposed yet another roadblock to class arbitration, in Lamps Plus Inc. v. Varela.[1] Relying on Stolt-Nielsen SA v. AnimalFeeds International Corp.,[2] the court ruled that ambiguous language in an arbitration agreement provides an insufficient basis for concluding a party has agreed to class arbitration.

Given the Federal Arbitration Act,'s broad effect, Lamps Plus virtually forecloses a court's ability to order parties to class arbitration. But one trapdoor remains, because the court did not address whether the availability of class arbitration constitutes an issue of arbitrability to be decided by courts, unless "clearly and unmistakably" assigned to the arbitrator....

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