Supreme Court Turns the Tide on Class Action Waivers: AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion


For the past few years, courts throughout the U.S. have repeatedly struck down class action waivers under state unconscionability law. In a sweeping decision yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed that trend, handing down its much-awaited decision in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, No. 09-893, 2011 U.S. LEXIS 3367 (U.S. 2011). This decision will affect the class action exposure of businesses in a wide span of industries, and once again places class action waivers on equal footing with other contractual provisions that companies include in their arbitration agreements.

The arbitration provision at issue was part of a two-year AT&T service contract, requiring the Concepcions to arbitrate any disputes with AT&T and prohibiting them from adjudicating their disputes as part of a class action—commonly referred to as a “class action waiver.”

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