Nearly 25 years after the Supreme Court held that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) requires that “any doubts concerning the scope of arbitrable issues should be resolved in favor of arbitration,”[FOOTNOTE 1] the Maryland Court of Appeals recently reminded practitioners that claims under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (MMWA) may represent an exception to the superseding power of the FAA in certain state court jurisdictions. On March 20, 2007, the Maryland Court of Appeals in Koons Ford of Baltimore, Inc. v. Lobach, 398 Md. 38 (2007) LEXIS 115 (Md. Mar. 20, 2007), held that Congress intended the MMWA to prohibit the resolution of claims through binding arbitration.
In so doing, the Koons Ford decision highlights a divide that exists across state and federal court jurisdictions and stands in opposition to prior decisions by the 5th and 11th Circuits that held that Congress did not intend for the MMWA to override the FAA’s presumption of arbitration. This article details the diverse reasoning used by the courts to analyze MMWA claims to provide practitioners with a roadmap on how the courts have decided this contentious issue.