The Second Circuit Sidesteps Stolt-Nielsen

Unlike Mark Twain, there’s an open question as to whether the Supreme Court’s decision in Stolt-Nielsen v. AnimalFeeds Int’l Corp. is dead or alive.  As you may recall, Stolt-Nielsen all but created a bright-line rule that class actions aren’t available in arbitration unless the arbitration agreement says they are; silence just won’t cut it.

Anyway, in Jock v. Sterling Jewelers, the Second Circuit side-stepped Stolt-Nielsen  in a crafty way:  The Second Circuit held that a district court cannot substitute its own judgment regarding the interpretation of the parties’ arbitration agreement for that of the arbitrator.  So, where the arbitrator determines that the the parties’ silence actually meant that they intended to preserve the ability for a claimant to seek class treatment, well, there’s nothing we can do about it.  Clever, eh?

We’ll keep watching how courts continue to treat class issues in arbitration.

About Brian Jones

I represent clients in all aspects of business litigation, but focus my practice on complex litigation and arbitration matters concerning insurance and reinsurance, antitrust, class actions, securities, real estate disputes, and contract matters. I am the co-chair of the Bose McKinney & Evans Insurance Group. I was listed in the 2017 and 2016 "Best Lawyers in America" for Insurance Coverage and named a "Rising Star" in Insurance Coverage by Super Lawyers in Indiana in 2014. I was also named a "Rising Star" in Business Litigation by Super Lawyers in Indiana in 2013 and 2012, and a 2010 “Rising Star” in Business Litigation in Texas. I am a member of the State Bars of Indiana and Texas, the Defense Research Institute, a former member of the Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas, and I am licensed to practice before all state courts in Indiana and Texas, as well as all federal courts in Indiana, the Northern, Western, and Southern Districts of Texas, the Northern District of Illinois, and the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fifth, Seventh, and Eleventh Circuits. I received my bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in political science and my master’s degree in teaching from Trinity University, where I was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. I received my doctor of jurisprudence degree from the University of Texas School of Law, where I was the Director of Communications for the Legal Research Board and a member of the Phi Delta Phi Honor Society. Before attending law school, I taught high school geography, government and economics in San Antonio, Texas.
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