Gardere Partner’s Article on Class Actions, Arbitrations Published in Noted Journal
02/15/2011

The World Arbitration and Mediation Review has published “Class Actions and Arbitration Murky Waters: Stolt-Nielsen S.A. v. AnimalFeeds International Corp.” by William G. Whitehill, a partner in the Trial section of Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP.

Online PR News – 15-February-2011 – – DALLAS – The World Arbitration and Mediation Review, which publishes scholarly works on worldwide mediation and arbitration law, recently published an article by William G. Whitehill, a partner in the Trial section of Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP.

The article, “Class Actions and Arbitration Murky Waters: Stolt-Nielsen S.A. v. AnimalFeeds International Corp.,” explores questions raised in the April 27, 2010, Stolt-Nielsen decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. The article can be found at http://www.gardere.com/Binaries/Press%20and%20Publications/WAMRWhitehill.pdf.

That decision, Mr. Whitehill writes, was seen by some as “the high tide mark from which class arbitrations in the United States will recede. Other commentators’ conclusions are more reserved.”

“At this point, it is too early to tell,” Mr. Whitehill writes. “What is clear from the opinion, however, is that the Supreme Court (1) apparently re-opened at least one important question that many thought the Court resolved in Green Tree Financial Corp. v. Bazzle and (2) left many other questions unanswered.”

Ultimately, Mr. Whitehill writes:

“It is premature to conclude that Stolt-Nielsen ends class arbitration where the agreement fails to specifically mention the subject of class arbitration. Certainly, class arbitration is not available where the agreement is unambiguously ‘silent’ on the issue. But, it is open to counsel’s imagination to craft arguments for how a broad arbitration clause opens the door to extraneous evidence of the parties’ intent or other tools of contract interpretation, in order to permit class arbitration. One avenue for finding such intent may exist where: (1) a class arbitration is the only way a consumer’s rights may be protected; (2) if the parties have agreed to a broad, mandatory arbitration clause; and (3) if the parties have not otherwise validly precluded class arbitration.”

The World Arbitration & Mediation Review is published by the Institute for Transnational Arbitration, a division of The Center for American and International Law. The ITA was created to promote global adherence to the world's principal arbitration treaties and to educate business executives, government officials and lawyers about arbitration as a means of resolving transnational business disputes.

Mr. Whitehill, a partner in Gardere’s Dallas office, acknowledged the contributions of Houston partner James J. Sentner and Dallas Of Counsel Michael Lowenberg in writing the article. Mr. Whitehill has 28 years of experience handling complex commercial litigation and arbitration, with a focus on antitrust. He has represented offshore drilling contractors, national foundries, food products manufacturers, natural gas producers, and other companies in substantial antitrust claims. Mr. Whitehill also litigates and arbitrates banking, contract, development, intellectual property, ERISA, and complex trust & estate disputes.

Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, an AmLaw 200 firm founded in 1909 and one of the Southwest's largest full-service law firms, has offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston and Mexico City. Gardere provides legal services to private and public companies and individuals in areas of government affairs, energy, litigation, corporate, tax, environmental, labor and employment, intellectual property and financial services.