Revitch v. DIRECTV, LLC, No. 18-16823 (9th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of DIRECTV's motion to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) in a putative class action brought under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
Under California contract law, the panel looked to the reasonable expectation of the parties at the time of the contract and held that a valid agreement to arbitrate between plaintiff and DIRECTV does not exist. The panel explained that, when plaintiff signed his wireless services agreement with AT&T Mobility so that he could obtain cell phone services, he could not reasonably have expected that he would be forced to arbitrate an unrelated dispute with DIRECTV, a satellite television provider that would not become affiliated with AT&T until years later. Furthermore, distinguishing Lamps Plus, Inc. v. Varela, 139 S. Ct. 1407 (2019), the panel concluded that DIRECTV fails to show that California's absurd-results canon disfavors arbitration agreements compared to other contracts, and the panel was not persuaded that the FAA preempts California's rule requiring that courts interpret contracts to avoid absurd results. The panel concluded that a federal court's role is limited to determining 1) whether a valid agreement to arbitration exists and, if it does, 2) whether the agreement encompasses the dispute at issue.