This case involved an arbitration agreement governed by California law.? ?The Justices? also? rejected? the employer?s? argument that Concepcion abolished all unconscionability challenges that interfere with the fundamental attributes of arbitration such as informality and speed.? ?The Justices reaffirmed the power of courts to strike down arbitration agreements on the basis of generally applicable principles of unconscionability.
Presaging their decision in Hill v. Garda a month later, the Justices unanimously held that the? agreements ?were ?unconscionable? because they imposed a six-month statute of limitations, allowed the employer to choose the potential arbitrators, and had prevailing party fee provisions. Four concurring Justices (Gonzalez, Stephens, Fairhurst, and? McCloud).would have held the limitation on punitive damages was unconscionable for prohibiting the award of exemplary damages under RCW 49.52.? ?The concurrence would have held those damages are punitive as a matter of Washington law. ?Justice James Johnson?s majority opinion refused to decide ?whether ?such ?damages ?were ?punitive.
The? ?majority?? held? ?that? ??Washington? ?law? ?is similarly ?unclear ?with ?respect ?to ?where ?RCW 49.52.070 lies on the spectrum between purely remedial and purely punitive.? Classifying ?double ?damages ?under ?RCW 49.52 as ?punitive? could have significant adverse consequences for employees in one context.?? The law is unclear whether punitive damages are recoverable against a defendant in bankruptcy.
Brown v. MHN Gov?t Services, Inc., 178 Wn. 2d 258, 306 P.3d 948 (8/15/2013)