Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Monday, January 13, 2003

Actually Even More Exciting Than I Thought - Class Action Arbitration Case Also Added


Although not an employment case, the Supreme Court Friday also granted certiorari in an important consumer arbitration case. In Bazzle v. Green Tree Financial Services, Inc., the South Carolina Supreme Court held that in the absence of language to the contrary, a court could impose class wide arbitration on an agreement to arbitrate. In two cases which were combined, the class arbitration had resulted in awards against Green Tree of approximately $10 and $9 million dollars. Obviously, the decision in this case could also be applied to class action type litigation under employment law arbitration schemes. The tenor of the case is that the dispute could have been avoided if the language of the agreement made it clear that class actions were not applicable. The dollars alone make this an interesting case, but it also is another indication of how important the law of arbitration is to this Supreme Court.

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