Philadelphia and Princeton partner Tom Barton was quoted in Law360 in an article titled, “Oxford Appeal Could Doom Class Arbitration.”

The article discussed the case of Oxford Health Plans LLC v. John Ivan Sutter MD, which the Third Circuit ruled on in April 2012.

The Third Circuit ruled that an arbitrator can send parties to class arbitration even if their contracts don't explicitly authorize it and upheld a ruling that forced Oxford to arbitrate on a class basis with as many as 20,000 physicians who accused the insurer of improperly administering reimbursement of claims.

Oxford has petitioned the Supreme Court to review the decision.

Tom, co-chair of the firm's Labor & Employment Practice Group, said "If they do take it up, I think that's a favorable sign for employers," as the court’s eventual ruling could eliminate arbitrators' ability to compel class arbitration based on agreements that don't directly address the issue.

Employment lawyers are watching it closely because of its potential impact on companies' power to use arbitration agreements to bar costly class and collective action lawsuits from workers.

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