The Tenth Circuit recently held that Cox Communications, Inc., (Cox) had waived its right to arbitration while defending a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of its cable subscribers. These subscribers sued the communications company in 2009 in several jurisdictions, alleging that the company illegally tied provision of its cable service to rental of a set-top box. These lawsuits were consolidated and transferred to the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. In response, Cox moved to dismiss and while the motion was pending, began inserting mandatory arbitration clauses into its various customer contracts, including those of class members. Cox did not notify the district court it was doing so, however. Efforts to certify a nationwide class failed, so plaintiffs sought to certify various geographic classes. These class actions were once again consolidated and transferred to the Western District of Oklahoma.
Before the district court, Cox moved unsuccessfully to dismiss before the parties engaged in substantial discovery and named plaintiff Healy moved to certify the class. The district court granted class certification and Cox appealed to the Tenth Circuit, but its petition was denied. Throughout these proceedings, Cox never mentioned the arbitration clauses until it filed motions for summary judgment and to compel arbitration. The district court denied the motion to compel on the basis that Cox’s prior conduct in the litigation constituted waiver. Cox appealed, and the Tenth Circuit affirmed, noting that both plaintiffs and the two courts would be prejudiced if arbitration were allowed. Healy v. Cox Commc’ns., Inc., No. 14-6158 (10th Cir. June 24, 2015).