United States District Court Judge Claudia Wilken (Northern District of California) has already been gifted with the privilege of considering whether Stolt-Nielsen S. A. et al. v. AnimalFeeds International Corp. (discussed on this blog here) preempts any state law that would preclude enforcement of an arbitration agreement. McArdle v. AT & T Mobility LLC, 2010 WL 1532334 (N.D.Cal. May 10, 2010). Judge Wilken took care of that argument in one sharp paragraph:
Defendants assert that Stolt-Nielsen creates a substantial question as to whether the “FAA would preempt any holding that California law precludes enforcement of McArdle's agreement to arbitrate his disputes with” them on an individual basis. Mot. for Leave at 4. The Court disagrees. The issue presented in Stolt-Nielsen was “whether imposing class arbitration on parties whose arbitration clauses are ‘silent’ on that issue is consistent with the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).” 2010 WL 1655826, at *4. The Supreme Court did not address FAA preemption. Nor did it overrule its precedent upon which the Ninth Circuit relied in Shroyer v. New Cingular Wireless Services, Inc., which held that California law on unconscionability could render an arbitration clause unenforceable, 498 F.3d 976, 986-87 (9th Cir.2007). Stolt-Nielsen is distinguishable both on the facts and the law and, therefore, does not require this Court to reconsider its order on Defendants' motion to stay this action pending their appeal.
Slip op., at 1. One interesting bit of information is also included in the Order. The Ninth Circuit recently held that Shroyer continues to control the issue of unconscionability analysis under California law. Laster v. AT & T Mobility LLC, 584 F.3d 849 (9th Cir.2009). AT&T filed a petition for certiorari in Laster, upon which they expect the Supreme Court to rule by May 24. If the Supreme Court takes up Laster, they will be forced to explicitly address carve-outs alluded to by the dissent in Stolt-Nielsen but not addressed by the majority opinion.