• The Eleventh Circuit Sets Parameters for Class Action Waivers in Arbitration Agreements
  • October 17, 2007 | Author: Charles Wachter
  • Law Firm: Fowler White Boggs P.A. - Tampa Office
  • The Eleventh Circuit recently set guidelines for the enforceability of class action waivers in arbitration agreements. In Dale v. Comcast Corp., 2007 WL 2471222 (11th Cir. Sept. 4, 2007), the plaintiffs sued Comcast in a putative class action challenging their charges for cable television services. The district court dismissed the case on the grounds that the arbitration agreement barred class actions. The Eleventh Circuit reversed, explaining “Without the benefit of a class action mechanism, the subscribers would effectively be precluded from suing Comcast.” 2007 WL 2471222 *6.

    The Court concluded that the enforceability of a particular class action waiver in an arbitration agreement must be determined on a case-by-case basis, considering the totality of the facts and circumstances. Id. According to the Eleventh Circuit, relevant circumstances may include: the fairness of the provisions; the costs to an individual plaintiff of vindicating the claim when compared to the plaintiff’s potential recovery; the ability to recover attorneys’ fees and other costs and thus obtain legal representation to prosecute the underlying claim; the practical effect the waiver will have on a company’s ability to engage in unchecked market behavior; and related public policy concerns. Id.