The Supreme Court of the United States has refused to consider whether an arbitrator, rather than a court, is properly tasked with deciding if an arbitral agreement permits class arbitration. In Crockett et al. v. Reed Elsevier Inc., No. 13-928, a Texas attorney sought to engage in class arbitration against the parent company of the legal research system LexisNexis over disputed subscriber surcharges. After Crockett filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association on behalf of himself and a proposed class of similarly situated individuals, an Ohio district court found that the parties’ arbitral agreement barred class arbitration and granted summary judgment in favor of Reed Elsevier. Crockett appealed his case to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
In November, the appellate court relied on recent Supreme Court precedent in American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant to hold that the arbitration agreement at issue was not unconscionable despite that it was one-sided and prohibited class arbitration. Additionally, the Sixth Circuit found that the issue of arbitrability was properly decided by the court. Crockett promptly appealed the court’s decision to the Supreme Court of the United States. According to Crockett, a split among the circuits over whether the class action arbitration issue is substantive or procedural currently exists. On Monday, the high court denied certiorari in the case without comment.