Does the federal Arbitration Act allow you to appeal an arbitrator's award to a federal court of appeals, skipping the district court? What if the other side agreed to the direct appeal thing?
The Ninth Circuit held in Johnson v. Wells Fargo Mortgage, Inc., No. 09-15937 (9th Cir. Feb. 15, 2011), that the Act bars the shortcut.
Blawgletter marvels that the issue got so far. The parties' contract said they "shall participate in a binding arbitration with appeal rights." The "with appeal rights" bit caused the trouble. The district court thought it meant that the court must confirm the award no matter what and that the losing party must take any complaints to the Ninth Circuit. Huh?
How do you get all that from "with appeal rights"? Doesn't that just mean the loser has rights to "appeal" (to the district court, as the FAA allows) on a ground the FAA allows? Right?