Kolev v. Euromotors West/The Auto Gallery, et al., No. 09-55963 (9th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff brought suit against the Dealership and Porsche when the pre-owned car that she purchased from the Dealership developed serious mechanical problems during the warranty period and the Dealership refused to honor her warranty claims. Plaintiff alleged breach of implied and express warranties under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (MMWA), 15 U.S.C. 2301 et seq., and breach of contract and unconscionability under California law. The district court granted the Dealership's petition to compel arbitration pursuant to the mandatory arbitration provision in the sales contract that plaintiff signed when she bought the car and stayed the action against Porsche. Plaintiff's principal argument on appeal was that the MMWA barred the provision mandating pre-dispute binding arbitration of her warranty claims against the Dealership. Although the text of the MMWA did not specifically address the validity of pre-dispute mandatory binding arbitration, Congress expressly delegated rulemaking authority under the statue to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC construed the MMWA as barring pre-dispute mandatory binding arbitration provisions covering written warranty agreements and issued a rule prohibiting judicial enforcement of such provisions with respect to consumer claims brought under the MMWA. Because it was required to defer to the reasonable construction of a statute by the agency that Congress had authorized to interpret it, the court held that the MMWA precluded enforcement of pre-dispute agreements such as Porsche's that required mandatory binding arbitration of consumer warranty claims. The court declined to address plaintiff's remaining claims. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on April 11, 2012.