Barras v. Branch Banking & Trust Co.

685 F.3d 1269 (2012)

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Barras v. Branch Banking & Trust Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
685 F.3d 1269 (2012)

RW

Facts

Lacy Barras (plaintiff) signed a bank-services agreement (BSA) when she opened her account at Branch Banking & Trust Company (BB&T) (defendant). Barras later filed a federal class-action suit charging BB&T with unfair banking practices. BB&T moved for a district-court order enforcing the BSA’s arbitration clause. The district court denied BB&T’s motion, ruling that the arbitration clause forced Barras to waive her right to arbitrate class-based claims, in violation of a South Carolina statute prohibiting such waivers. BB&T appealed to the Eleventh Circuit. While that appeal was pending, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempted California’s version of the South Carolina anti-waiver statute on which the district court based its ruling. The Eleventh Circuit ordered the district court to reconsider that ruling in light of the Supreme Court’s decision. On remand, the district court once again denied BB&T’s motion. This time the court ruled that an obscure BSA provision buried many pages away from the BSA’s arbitration clause unconscionably shifted all of BB&T’s arbitration costs, win or lose, to Barras. BB&T appealed once more to the Eleventh Circuit, which noted that the BSA included a severability clause.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Barkett, J.)

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