On January 25, 2021, the United States Supreme Court dismissed, as “improvidently granted,” a writ of certiorari it had previously granted on a petition asking it to consider “[w]hether a provision in an arbitration agreement that exempts certain claims from arbitration negates an otherwise clear and unmistakable delegation of questions of arbitrability to an arbitrator.” 

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the climate change lawsuit filed by the City of Baltimore in 2018 against energy companies. This case is one of a number of cases brought by states, cities, and other municipalities against energy companies alleging that the companies contributed to climate change. By granting certiorari and hearing oral arguments, the Supreme Court has agreed to review the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision remanding the suit to state court after rejecting the energy companies’ contention that they were acting as federal officers pursuant to historical contracts with the federal government.
Continue Reading It’s Heating Up: United States Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Proper Jurisdiction for Climate-Change Lawsuit

Today, the United States Supreme Court granted a Petition for Certiorari filed by energy companies in Baltimore’s climate change lawsuit.  By granting the petition, the Supreme Court has agreed to review the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision remanding the suit to state court after rejecting the energy companies’ contention that they were acting as federal officers pursuant to historical contracts with the federal government.
Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court To Review Scope of Appellate Review for Federal Officer Removal in Climate Change Litigation

Today the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in this landmark case concerning punitive damages.  The six justices in the majority opinion reversed the Ninth Circuit and resolved a circuit split on this issue.  The question presented was whether punitive damages may be awarded to a Jones Act seaman in a personal injury suit alleging a breach of the general maritime duty to provide a seaworthy vessel.  Justice Alito wrote the majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, Justices Thomas, Kagan, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh.  Justice Ginsburg dissented, joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor.


Continue Reading SCOTUS Decides Dutra Group v. Batterton

Commercial and employment agreements often include provisions requiring arbitration of disputes between the parties. Some of these agreements contain “delegation clauses” requiring the arbitrator (as opposed to a court) to decide whether the dispute is subject to arbitration. Despite such provisions, one party may sue the other because it perceives an advantage to proceeding in court or wants to test the outer limits of the arbitration provision. The first battle in these suits is over who—the court or an arbitrator—decides whether the dispute must be arbitrated. In unanimous decisions issued over the last week, the Supreme Court addressed two scenarios where the parties fought over this question, despite having delegated questions of “arbitrability” to an arbitrator. Read together, the Court’s decisions clarify that a court should first decide whether the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) applies to the parties’ agreement. If so, the court must honor the delegation clause and refer the matter to arbitration.


Continue Reading New U.S. Supreme Court Decisions Clarify the Courts’ Authority to Compel Arbitration

The United States Supreme Court ruled today that contracts requiring individualized arbitration of employment-related disputes are enforceable and do not violate Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Background

Some employers require their employees to enter into agreements binding the parties to arbitrate employment-related disputes.  In recent years, many of those employers have drafted their mandatory arbitration agreements to prohibit employees from pursuing class or collective actions, which can be costly and eliminate the informality and speed of arbitration.  For example, the plaintiffs in the three cases decided by the Supreme Court today agreed not to pursue unpaid overtime claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) on behalf of other employees in class or collective actions.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Validates Employer’s Right to Require Class and Collective Action Waivers in Employment-Related Arbitration Agreements

Hours before a controversial set of new reporting requirements for government contractors was set to take effect, a federal court in Texas enjoined implementation of the requirements across the country.
Continue Reading New Government Contractor “Blacklisting” Reporting Requirements Put on Hold

In yet another “retained-acreage” dispute, the Amarillo Court of Appeals recently ruled that an assignee was entitled to retain all acreage covered by the assignment of four leases, where the assignment’s retained-acreage clause invoked the maximum acreage prescribed by the applicable field rules governing proration units, and, in the absence of any such field rules,

One of the prominent features of arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”)[1] and the arbitration statutes of most states is a stringently limited right of appeal, which is integral to the goal of expeditious and economical dispute resolution. Some parties choose to arbitrate for reasons other than cost and efficiency, however, such as a

By Natalie Barletta

The Texas Supreme Court in, In re Gulf Exploration, LLC, No. 07-0055 (Tex. Apr. 17, 2009), addresses when mandamus relief is available in connection with an order compelling arbitration. In this case, several working interest owners sued Great Western Drilling, their operator, claiming an opportunity to participate in wells drilled by