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  • Writer's pictureHoward Kline

Are Local Truck Drivers Involved in Interstate Commerce

In this episode of the Resolve This! podcast, the Howard Kline and his guest, David Reif, discuss the recent cases of Coinbase v. Bielski decided in late 2013, Coinbase v. Suski argued before the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on February 28, 2024 and Bissonnette v. LePage Bakeries argued before the court on February 20, 2024. The Coinbase cases, each deal with different issues before court.

Procedural and Factual Background Summary

Coinbase v. Bielski

The court in the Coinbase v. Bielski case resolved a split among the US circuit courts holding that when a lower district court denies a motion to compel arbitration, the court "must" put the trial proceedings on hold during the arbitration appeal. David and Howard discuss the legal, policy and practical considerations of this decision and David has some recommendations for petitioners who will be facing significant delays as a result of this decision.

Coinbase v. Suski

The more recent case of Coinbase v. Suski, deals with, to a considerable extent, state contract law interpretation of an online clickwrap agreement that contained an arbitration provision and a later sweepstakes offered by Coinbase to promote the sale of Dogecoin which did not contain an arbitration provision. At issue was whether or not the official rules for the sweepstakes was to be considered an amendment of the clickwrap agreement thus requiring arbitration of the dispute between Suski and Coinbase, a novation of the clickwrap agreement or a totally separate and distinct agreement with no arbitration provision. As of the date of this posting, it has just been argued by not decided by SCOTUS.

Bissonnette v. LePage Bakeries

Bissonnette v. LePage Bakeries deals with a dispute between truck drivers for LePage Bakeries, the successor to Hostess Bakery and Wonder Bread. At issue is whether the truck drivers within the meaning of Section 1 of the Federal Arbitration Act, ("FAA") and engage in interstate commerce. LePage Bakeries is a producer of bakery products that are distributed throughout the United States. A dispute arose between LePage and a class of truck drivers who delivered LePage products only within a single state and do not cross state lines. LePage and the truck drivers, through corporate entities that the truck drivers formed distribution territorial agreements that David considers to be franchise agreements. Those agreements contain arbitration provisions that require any dispute between the trucker's entity and LePage to be resolved through arbitration. Bissonnette on behalf of a class of workers filed suit. LePage in response, not only denied the truck driver's allegations but moved the court to compel arbitration. The truck drivers wanting to avoid arbitration ultimately appealed the matter to the US Supreme Court alleging that, among other things, they should be treated as employees of LePage and within the meaning of Section 1 of the FAA which excludes arbitration of ".......contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce." There are many other issues at play here including but not limited to the fact that the drivers do not actually cross state lines, an argument by the drivers that the court should focus more on the substance of the relationship more than the form. For a detailed understanding of the case, please listen or watch the podcast.

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