Last week, following the Supreme Court’s decision in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, I commented that the decision does not answer the question whether a federal court has the power to declare a class arbitration waiver unconscionable. Although not on this precise issue, the Court has granted cert on a related issue relating to the enforceability of arbitration agreements that preclude class actions.
The issue presented in CompuCredit Corp. v. Greenwood, No. 10-948 is “Whether claims arising under the Credit Repair Organizations Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1679 et seq., are subject to arbitration pursuant to a valid arbitration agreement.” This would-be class action involves a potential conflict between two competing federal laws, the Federal Arbitration Act and the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA). The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a class arbitration waiver was void “because the CROA specifically prohibits provisions disallowing any waiver of a consumer’s right to sue in court for CROA violations.” In reaching that conclusion, it held that the statute’s reference to a “right to sue” was an express statement of Congressional intention to preclude waivers of consumer’s rights to bring a lawsuit in court, thus falling within an exception to the otherwise liberal policy favoring arbitration.
The case has been added to the Court’s docket for the October 2011 term.