Buckeye Check Cashing, Inc. v. Cardegna
In this putative class action, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a mandatory arbitration clause may be enforced even when it is embedded in an agreement whose principal purpose is alleged to violate Florida’s criminal laws against usury and loan sharking. The plaintiffs argued, and the Florida Supreme Court had agreed, that where an entire contract is void ab initio under a state’s normal principles of contract law, it never comes into existence and no part of it can be enforced. The U.S. Supreme Court held that the arbitration clause was separable from the remainder of the contract as a matter of federal law and that an arbitrator (not a court) should determine if the contract as a whole is illegal. Public Justice Attorney Paul Bland was lead counsel in the Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. Public Justice Executive Director Arthur Bryant, Brayton-Baron Attorney Leslie Bailey, then-Public Justice Attorney Michael Quirk, and Leslie Brueckner assisted with the U.S. Supreme Court brief, along with co-counsel Clayton Yates of Fort Pierce, Florida, Christopher Casper of Tampa, Florida, and Richard Fisher of Cleveland, Tennessee.
Public Justice's brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, urging the justices to uphold the Florida Supreme Court's ruling that, under Florida law, Florida state courts must first determine whether a payday loan contract that charges interest rates of up to 1,300 percent is criminal and void ab initio before enforcing any provision in it, including a mandatory arbitration provision.
U.S. Supreme Court