Oral argument: Dec. 9, 2009
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Nov. 4, 2008)
ARBITRATION, FEDERAL ARBITRATION ACT, ADMIRALTY LAW, MARITIME LAW
AnimalFeeds filed a class action lawsuit against the four major parcel tanker transportation companies, including Stolt-Nielsen, alleging antitrust violations. As per a written contact between the parties, the case was referred to an arbitration panel. The contract, however, is silent as to whether class arbitrations are permissible. Stolt-Nielsen argues that the silence in the agreement should mean that class arbitration is not permitted, while AnimalFeeds claims the decision should be left to the arbitrators. The arbitrators decided to allow class arbitration, but the district court (S.D.N.Y.) refused. The Second Circuit reversed. The Supreme Court's decision will place an economic burden on the losing side and may affect international businesses decisions on whether to select a forum in the United States.