Hylla steers clear of Cingular arbitration decision

By Steve Korris | May 23, 2008


Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla stopped a three month feud over what he said at a hearing by writing an order instead of waiting for lawyers to agree on one.

"Apparently I was a little too verbose the last time I was here," Hylla told Dan Cohen of the Lakin Law Firm and Cingular Wireless counsel Roman Wuller on May 21.

He retired to chambers and carefully crafted an order keeping his nose out of arbitration over a class action claim against Cingular.

Each side won and lost.

In favor of the Lakins, Hylla chose not to disturb a decision of arbitrator David Love, leaning toward national class arbitration.

On the other hand, Hylla ignored Cohen's request to confirm Love's decision.

While Cingular failed to carry its motion to partially vacate Love's decision, Wuller succeeded in preserving his right to assert any and all limits on class arbitration.

The May 21 hearing mostly repeated one Hylla held Feb. 7.

Cohen said that under the Federal Arbitration Act, Hylla lacked jurisdiction over Cingular's motion.

He said Hylla would almost have to find corruption to reverse Love's decision.

He said piecemeal judicial review of arbitration is inappropriate.

Hylla asked if Love said there was no prohibition on class arbitration.

Cohen said that was correct.

Hylla said, "No more or no less?"

Cohen said Love concluded that class arbitration could proceed without determining who would be in it.

Hylla said, "I tend to take issue with that."

He said, "All he said was it's a possibility."

Cohen said, "He doesn't say he intends to certify a class."

Hylla asked if arbitration of individual claims was possible, and Cohen said yes.

Hylla, reading Love's decision, said it rejected limits on class certification in this phase of arbitration but Cingular could raise the issue in the next phase.

"I agree with him," Hylla said.

Wuller persisted but Hylla said, "So why are we here?"

Wuller said, "We tried to withdraw the motion. They wouldn't agree to it."

Cohen said he wouldn't compromise on what Love said.

Hylla said, "It sounds like they wanted to withdraw their motion."

Wuller said he would, if he could reserve his objection to Love's jurisdiction.

The order turned out that way, with the motion dead and the objection alive.

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