Hall Street Associates, Redux

This year’s biggest U.S. Supreme Court ADR case is back in a federal trial court for more litigation.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice David Souter remanded Hall Street Associates LLC v. Mattel Inc., No. 06-989, 196 Fed. Appx. 476 (March 25, 2008)(available at http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/07pdf/06-989.pdf) to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the Court’s 6-3 opinion, and now the circuit court has moved the case along.

The nation’s top court, in striking down the ability of parties to contract for judicial review of arbitration awards under the Federal Arbitration Act, left open the possibility that other laws could allow parties to expand court jurisdiction under their contracts.

The Court, in a rare move, requested additional briefing on the issue nine days after the November argument in the case.

But in the March decision, Souter wrote that the supplemental arguments addressed new points which it couldn’t adequately address without a remand to develop the issues.

And on July 8, the Ninth Circuit issued a remand order to the district court, concluding that the Souter opinion “has preserved the issue of sources of authority, other than the Federal Arbitration Act, through which a court may enforce an arbitration award. . . .”  Hall Street Associates LLC v. Mattel Inc., No. 05-35721, 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 14490  (July 8,. 2008).

The circuit court remanded the case to the federal district court in Portland, Ore., where the case began.

The Supreme Court cited the parties’ supplemental briefing on issues of waiver and the FAA’s relation both to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 16 and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 1998, 28 U. S. C. §651 et seq., as possible sources that could allow judicial review modifications in arbitration contracts.

The next round of Hall Street Associates litigation hasn’t been docketed yet.

–Russ Bleemer, Editor, Alternatives