Tag: questions of arbitrability

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Absent But Not Forgotten: The Second Circuit Addresses the Impact of Arbitration on Absent Class Members

Absent But Not Forgotten: The Second Circuit Addresses the Impact of Arbitration on Absent Class Members

By: Andrew C. Glass and Robert W. Sparkes, III

In their 2013 concurrence in Oxford Health Plans LLC v. Sutter, Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, questioned whether absent class members “will be bound by the arbitrator’s ultimate resolution of th[e] dispute” in a class arbitration.[1] Justice Alito suggested that where an arbitration agreement provides “no reason to think that the absent class members ever agreed to class arbitration,” an affirmative answer was unlikely.[2] He posited that “an arbitrator’s erroneous interpretation of contracts that do not authorize class arbitration cannot bind someone who has not authorized the arbitrator to make that determination.”[3] Taken to its logical end, Justice Alito’s rationale would support an argument that class arbitrations should be limited to adjudicating only the claims of class members who affirmatively opt in to the class arbitration proceedings.

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