Green Tree Financial Corp. v. Bazzle, 539 U.S. 444, 16 (2003)

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Cite as: 539 U. S. 444 (2003)

Rehnquist, C. J., dissenting

named in that specific contract. Id., at 33 (" 'We' and 'us' means the Seller above, its successors and assigns"; " 'You' and 'your' means each Buyer above and guarantor, jointly and severally" (emphasis added)). Each contract also specifies that it governs all "disputes . . . arising from . . . this contract or the relationships which result from this contract." Id., at 34 (emphasis added). These provisions, which the plurality simply ignores, see ante, at 450-451, make quite clear that petitioner must select, and each buyer must agree to, a particular arbitrator for disputes between petitioner and that specific buyer.

While the observation of the Supreme Court of South Carolina that the agreement of the parties was silent as to the availability of class-wide arbitration is literally true, the imposition of class-wide arbitration contravenes the just-quoted provision about the selection of an arbitrator. To be sure, the arbitrator that administered the proceedings was "selected by [petitioner] with consent of" the Bazzles, Lackey, and the Buggses. App. 34-36. But petitioner had the contractual right to choose an arbitrator for each dispute with the other 3,734 individual class members, and this right was denied when the same arbitrator was foisted upon petitioner to resolve those claims as well. Petitioner may well have chosen different arbitrators for some or all of these other disputes; indeed, it would have been reasonable for petitioner to do so, in order to avoid concentrating all of the risk of substantial damages awards in the hands of a single arbitrator. As petitioner correctly concedes, Brief for Petitioner 32, 42, the FAA does not prohibit parties from choosing to proceed on a classwide basis. Here, however, the parties simply did not so choose.

"Arbitration under the Act is a matter of consent, not coercion." Volt, supra, at 479. Here, the Supreme Court of South Carolina imposed a regime that was contrary to the express agreement of the parties as to how the arbitrator would be chosen. It did not enforce the "agreemen[t]


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