Though the Jackson case does not deal with personal injuries, it illustrates how choosing arbitration can ruin a plaintiff’s chances of going to trial. In the case, the parties signed an arbitration agreement that provided the arbitrator with authority to resolve any dispute between the parties, including whether the agreement was void or voidable. The district court granted Rent-A-Center’s motion even though Jackson argued under state law, the arbitration agreement was unconscionable and thus, not enforceable. On appeal, the 9th Circuit held if a party challenged an agreement as unconscionable, unconscionability was for a court, not arbitrator to decide.
The US Supreme Court reversed the 9th Circuit. The US Supreme Court noted the arbitration provision giving the arbitrator authority was an independent contractual agreement to arbitrate gateway questions of arbitrability. Thus, the arbitrator determined agreement enforceability.
With the Jackson decision, parties in personal injury agreeing to arbitration should read over the language carefully if they would rather a court versus an arbitrator have authority to decide agreement enforceability.
When hit with a personal injury claim, engage an experienced accident attorney in Hawaii who understands alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.