ARBITRATION-FEDERAL ARBITRATION ACT PREEMPTION

June 28th, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Arbitration

Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, 2022 U.S. LEXIS 2940 (June 15, 2022) (Alito, J.) We granted certiorari in this case to decide whether the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U. S. C. §1 et seq., preempts a rule of California law that invalidates contractual waivers of the right to assert representative claims under California’s Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004. Cal. Lab. Code Ann. §2698 et seq. (West 2022). Petitioner Viking River Cruises, Inc. (Viking), is a company that offers ocean and river cruises around the world. When respondent Angie Moriana was hired by Viking as a sales representative, she executed an agreement to arbitrate any dispute arising out of her employment. The agreement contained a “Class Action Waiver” providing that in any arbitral proceeding, the parties could not bring any dispute as a class, collective, or representative PAGA action. It also contained a severability clause specifying that if the waiver was found invalid, any class, collective, representative, or PAGA action would presumptively be litigated in court. But under that severability clause, if any “portion” of the waiver remained valid, it would be “enforced in arbitration.” A state rule imposing an expansive rule of joinder in the arbitral context would defeat the ability of parties to control which claims are subject to arbitration. Such a rule would permit parties to superadd new claims to the proceeding, regardless of whether the agreement between them committed those claims to arbitration. Requiring arbitration procedures to include a joinder rule of that kind compels parties to either go along with an arbitration in which the range of issues under consideration is determined by coercion rather than consent, or else forgo arbitration altogether. Either way, the parties are coerced into giving up a right they enjoy under the FAA. See Lamps Plus, 587 U. S., at ___-___, 139 S. Ct. 1407, 203 L. Ed. 2d 636 (slip op., at 6-8); Epic Systems, 584 U. S., at ___-___, 138 S. Ct. 1612, 200 L. Ed. 2d 889 (slip op., at 5-9); Concepcion, 563 U. S., at 347-351; Stolt-Nielsen, 559 U. S., at 684-687. Viking was entitled to enforce the agreement insofar as it mandated arbitration of Moriana’s individual PAGA claim. The lower courts refused to do so based on the rule that PAGA actions cannot be divided into individual and non-individual claims. Under our holding, that rule is preempted, so Viking is entitled to compel arbitration of Moriana’s individual claim. Moriana lacks statutory standing to continue to maintain her non-individual claims in court, and the correct course is to dismiss her remaining claims.

Attorney Cliff Rieders

Attorney Cliff RiedersCliff Rieders is a Nationally Board Certified Trial Lawyer practicing personal injury law. A large part of his practice involves multi-district litigation, including cases related to pharmaceuticals, vitamin supplements and medical devices. He is admitted in several state and federal courts, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States. Rieders is the past regional president of the Federal Bar Association and is a life member of the distinguished American Law Institute, which promulgates proposed rules adopted by many state courts. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. As a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, he served on the Board for 15 years.

Not only has Rieders held many highly esteemed, leadership positions, he authored legislation related to the Patient Safety Authority and the Mcare Act, which governs medical and hospital liability actions in Pennsylvania. He authored texts upon which both practitioners and judges rely, including Pennsylvania Malpractice Laws and Forms, and Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania, the latter governing auto and truck collisions in Pennsylvania. In addition, he wrote several books on the practice of law in Pennsylvania regarding wrongful death and survivor actions, insurance bad faith, legal malpractice claims and worker rights, among others. Rieders also serves as a resource to practitioners as a regular speaker for Celesq, an arm of the world’s largest legal publisher, Thomson Reuters West Publishing.

As recognition of his wide range of contribution to his profession and of his dedication to protecting the rights of his clients, he received numerous awards, among them the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, the Milton D. Rosenberg Award, the B’nai B’rith Justice Award, and awards of recognition from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. [ Attorney Bio ]