FIA Card Services v. Weaver

FIA Card Services v. Weaver

Appeal of decision holding that courts are required to rubber-stamp arbitration awards, even where a consumer argues that he never agreed to arbitration.

On appeal, Public Justice urged the Louisiana Supreme Court to reverse a decision holding that a court asked to enforce an arbitration award cannot “even consider” a consumer’s argument that he never agreed to arbitration, if the consumer did not affirmatively ask the court to vacate the award within 90 days of the arbitration. Public Justice’s client, Fred Weaver, allegedly defaulted on his credit card payments to MBNA and had an arbitration award issued against him by the National Arbitration Forum. Although NAF was forced to abandon the consumer arbitration business in 2009 in the wake of Congressional and law enforcement investigations revealing it had financial ties to its debt collector clients, many credit card companies have continued to seek judicial enforcement of NAF awards.

The Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the trial court’s decision to compel arbitration against Mr. Weaver, holding that the trial court could do nothing but rubber-stamp the award even if the creditor failed to show that the consumer agreed to arbitration and the consumer specifically denies it.

In March 2011, the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed, ruling 6-1 that a court can’t enforce an arbitration award against a consumer unless there is proof the consumer agreed to arbitration. The ruling reversed the trial court’s decision in FIA v. Weaver.

Staff Attorney Leslie Bailey was lead counsel on the appeal. The case was heard before the Louisiana Supreme Court in January 2011 with Bailey arguing on behalf of Mr. Weaver. Public Justice’s co-counsel were Garth Ridge of Baton Rouge, La., Steve Conley of Covington, La., and Bill Cherbonnier of Greta, La.

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