Ninth Circuit Dismisses Interlocutory Appeal, Finds Order Compelling Arbitration Not a “Final Decision” Under FAA
The plaintiff filed a putative class action for alleged violations of California employment law, and the defendant moved to compel arbitration. The district court granted the motion and stayed further proceedings pending a ruling by the arbitrators as to the arbitrability of the dispute. But before submitting the matter to arbitration, the plaintiff voluntarily discontinued the action without prejudice and immediately appealed the district court’s order. The Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeal, however, finding it lacked jurisdiction. The court agreed with the defendant that the plaintiff’s “voluntary discontinuance and immediate appeal” was an impermissible attempt to sidestep the “final-judgment rule, the Federal Arbitration Act’s explicit bar on interlocutory appeals, and prevailing case law.” Because the order compelling arbitration was not a “final decision” under § 16(a) of the FAA, the plaintiff was required to seek the district court’s permission to pursue the appeal, but failed to do so. That he voluntarily discontinued the action before appealing was deemed irrelevant, particularly since the discontinuance was without prejudice.
Gonzalez v. Coverall North America, Inc., No. 17-55787 (9th Cir. Feb. 22, 2019).