Supreme Court overturns California appeal in Viking River Cruises v. Moriana

On June 15, 2022, the United States Supreme Court released its decision on Viking River Cruises, Inc. vs. Moriana (Case No. 20-1573) reversing the decision of the California Court of Appeals to uphold the dismissal of Viking’s motion to compel Moriana’s “individual” PAGA claim to arbitration and to dismiss its other PAGA claims .

As stated earlier, the question presented in Viking River Cruises whether the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) prevails over the decision of the Supreme Court of California in Iskanians c. CLS Transp. Los Angeles, LLC58 Cal.4th 380 (2014), which invalidates contractual waivers of representative claims under the California Labor Code’s Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”).

In a majority opinion written by Justice Alito, the Court held that even if from Iskanian the ban on “wholesale waivers” of PAGA claims is not preempted by the FAA, from Iskanian rule that PAGA actions cannot be divided into “individual claims” and “non-individual claims” is pre-empted.

Applying this decision to the parties, the Court held that Viking was entitled to enforce the parties’ arbitration agreement to the extent that it required arbitration of Moriana’s individual PAGA claim. With respect to Moriana’s Non-Individual PAGA Claims, because PAGA itself “provides no mechanism for a court to adjudicate Non-Individual PAGA Claims once an individual claim has been initiated in a separate proceeding. “, Moriana does not have “statutory status” under PAGA to litigate its “non-individual” claims separately in state court. Accordingly, “the correct course of action is to reject his remaining claims.”

Copyright © 2022, Hunter Andrews Kurth LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 167

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