Oxford Health Plans LLC v. Sutter

Sutter provided medical services to patients insured by Oxford under a fee-for-services contract that required binding arbitration of contractual disputes. Sutter filed a purported class action in state court, claiming that Oxford failed to fully and promptly pay him and other physicians. The court compelled arbitration. The arbitrator concluded that the contract authorized class arbitration. The district court rejected Oxford’s motion to vacate, which asserted that the arbitrator had exceeded his authority under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 1. The Third Circuit affirmed. After the Supreme Court held that an arbitrator may employ class procedures only if the parties have authorized them, the arbitrator reaffirmed his conclusion. Oxford unsuccessfully renewed its motion to vacate and the Third Circuit affirmed. A unanimous Supreme Court affirmed. The arbitrator’s decision survives the limited judicial review allowed by section 10(a)(4) of the Act. The parties bargained for the arbitrator’s construction of their agreement, so the arbitral decision must stand, regardless of a court’s view of its merits. The arbitrator twice did what the parties asked: considered their contract and decided whether it reflected an agreement to permit class proceedings. To overturn his decision, a court would have to find that he misapprehended the parties’ intent; section 10(a)(4) bars that. View "Oxford Health Plans LLC v. Sutter" on Justia Law