The United States Supreme Court has granted DIRECTV’s petition for Writ of Certiorari and will hear the following question presented: Whether the California Court of Appeal erred by holding, in direct conflict with the Ninth Circuit, that a reference to state law in an arbitration agreement governed by the Federal Arbitration Act requires the application of state law preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act.
As reported here previously, DIRECTV had moved to dismiss or stay a class action litigation filed against it and to compel individual arbitration pursuant to the arbitration clause contained in DIRECTV’s customer agreements in California, which specifically prohibit class actions. The trial court denied the motion and the California Court of Appeal affirmed. The Court of Appeal focused on the arbitration clause’s non-severability provision and its reference to “state” law to hold that the class-action waiver in the arbitration clause was invalid under California law and the entire arbitration agreement was therefore unenforceable. In its petition, DIRECTV argued that the Court of Appeal did precisely what the Supreme Court’s Concepcion decision prohibits: “It applies state law to invalidate an arbitration agreement solely because that agreement includes a class-action waiver.” DIRECTV further argued that because the decision is in direct conflict with a recent Ninth Circuit decision, creates an acknowledged conflict between state and federal courts on a matter of federal law, and “evinces the very hostility to arbitration that led to the enactment of the FAA in the first place,” the Supreme Court’s review was warranted. Petitioner’s brief on the merits is to be filed with the Court by May 29, 2015, and Respondents’ brief is to be filed by July 17, 2015. The Court is scheduled to hear the case during its October 2015 term. DIRECTV, Inc. v. Imburgia, et al., Case No. 14-462.