Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc.
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc., 473 U.S. 614 (1985), is a United States Supreme Court decision concerning arbitration of antitrust claims. The Court heard the case on appeal from the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which had ruled that the arbitration clause in a Puerto Rican car dealer's franchise agreement was broad enough to reach its antitrust claim. By a 5–3 margin it upheld the lower court, requiring that the dealer arbitrate its claim before a panel in Tokyo, as stipulated in the contract.Justice Harry Blackmun wrote for the majority that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) was broad enough to require arbitration of statutory claims as well as contractual ones, extending a recent line of Court decisions favorable to arbitration. A controversial footnote, creating a possible ""prospective waiver"" doctrine that would allow a party to avoid arbitration under foreign law, has been much criticized by commentators and at the same time raised by many litigants. In 2009 the Eleventh Circuit found it valid for an injured cruise-ship worker, but two years later cast doubt on that conclusion.In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens argued that antitrust claims were too complex and important to be left to arbitrators and that in any event none of the claims were arbitrable under the terms of the contract itself. He expressed incredulousness that his colleagues would require an American company to arbitrate a claim under American antitrust law before a panel of foreign arbitrators. Justice Lewis Powell took no part in the case.While the case formed an important part of the Court's expansion of arbitrability in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, it could not have reached a court today. In 2002, after years of lobbying by the National Automobile Dealers Association, Congress passed the Motor Vehicle Franchise Contract Arbitration Fairness Act, which prohibited mandatory predispute arbitration clauses in motor vehicle dealership franchise agreements. President George W. Bush signed it into law, the first time a specific exception to the FAA had been legislated since the Court began expanding its scope.