Class Arbitration Issue Will Go to Washington

     WASHINGTON (CN) – Oxford Health Plans persuaded the Supreme Court to determine whether a doctor must arbitrate claims of service-reimbursement violations.
     When Dr. Ivan Sutter contracted with Oxford to provide primary care health services for its clients in 1998, he agreed to accept compensation at predetermined reimbursement rates.
     Though the agreement contained a broad arbitration clause, there was no reference to class arbitration.
     In 2002, Sutter accused Oxford of failing to make prompt and accurate reimbursement payments to participating physicians.
     Oxford moved to compel arbitration of the class action Sutter filed in New Jersey, and the court agreed.
     An arbitrator determined in 2003 that the parties’ agreement provided for class arbitration.
     After the arbitration proceeded on a classwide basis, Oxford said that the arbitrator had authorized class arbitration in excess of his powers.
     A federal judge in New Jersey refused to vacate the award, however, and the 3rd Circuit affirmed in April 2012.
     It rejected Oxford’s claims that vacatur was required under Stolt-Nielsen S.A. v. AnimalFeeds International Corp., a 2010 Supreme Court decision.The high court granted certiorari Friday, and granted two motions of would-be amicus curiae. Both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and DRI – The Voice of the Defense Bar will file briefs as friends of the court.

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