U.S. Supreme Court refuses request to force class action into arbitration

Posted on: January 15th, 2016 by Keith Dubanevich
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fine printOn January 11, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant review of a decision from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals that had upheld a trial court’s denial of a motion to compel arbitration. Cox Communications, Inc. v. Healy, Richard, Case No. 15-466.

The Tenth Circuit had previously rejected Cox’s bid to force an on-going multidistrict litigation into arbitration.  The dispute dates back to 2009, when several of Cox’s premium cable subscribers filed suits against the company for allegedly tying the service to set-top box rentals.

Upholding an Oklahoma judge’s decision to deny arbitration, the Tenth Circuit said that by letting “extensive” pretrial discovery and ample motion practice occur before it pointed to an arbitration clause in its customer contracts, the company waived its right to compel arbitration.

In the opinion Circuit Judge Carlos F. Lucero said that Cox was “essentially asking for a redo” of the trial court’s decision to grant the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification after the trial court had conducted a laborious analysis under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The opinion blasted the arbitration request by suggesting it would have led to a waste of “a copious amount of judicial resources *** at great expense to the public.”

Judge Lucero added: “Cox’s complete failure to mention the presence of its arbitration contracts, despite the obvious impact that they would have on the court’s Rule 23 analysis, is clearly inconsistent with an intent to arbitrate.”