The Supreme Court justices on Wednesday considered a case concerning whether the Federal Arbitration Act precludes federal courts from reviewing arbitration awards for factual or legal error if parties have specified in an arbitration agreement more expansive judicial review than that provided for in the statute. Justice Stephen Breyer jokingly called it “the case of the century,” saying that, because of the many potential issues for remand, the case might “take a hundred years to finish.”

In an environmental cleanup dispute between Mattel Inc. and its Oregon landlord, Hall Street Associates LLC, an arbitration agreement between the parties provided that the arbitrator’s findings of fact and conclusions of law could be reviewed by the district court at the request of either party, and that the court could vacate, modify or correct an award if the findings of fact were not supported by substantial evidence or the conclusions of law were erroneous.

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