Allison v. Medicab Intern., Inc – Case Brief Summary (Washington)

In Allison v. Medicab Intern., Inc. (1979) 92 Wn.2d 199 597 P.2d 380, plaintiffs and defendants had entered into a franchise agreement for the transportation of the physically handicapped which contained an arbitration clause. Plaintiffs brought an action which included alleged violations of Washington's Franchise Investment Protection Act. Defendants' demand for arbitration was denied. On appeal, plaintiffs contended that "because the statute gives jurisdiction of such matters to state courts (RCW 19.100.160), the arbitration clause does not apply." (Id. , at p. 381.)

The Supreme Court of Washington reversed. Having concluded the Federal Arbitration Act was controlling, the court said "the majority rule. . . appears to be that the act does apply and requires a state court to enforce an arbitration clause despite a contrary state law or policy. " (Id. , at p. 382.) Applying this rule, the court rejected the claim that defendants' failure to register pursuant to the Franchise Investment Protection Act vitiated the arbitration clause. While the court did not specifically refer to the anti-waiver provision in the Franchise Investment Protection Act ( Wash. Rev. Code § 19.100.220), the court distinguished Wilko v. Swan as follows: ". . . this case involved two federal acts and not as here the federal arbitration act and a state franchising act. " (Id. , at p. 382.)