August 10, 2022. The Supreme Court denied cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase’s motion to stay litigation in two cases, and its bid to expedite consideration for a writ of certiorari, which is how the Supreme Court identifies cases that it will decide. Later this year, the Supreme Court will decide Coinbase’s request for certiorari.
Two cases against Coinbase generated this flurry of Supreme Court motions. In one case, plaintiff Abraham Bielski was a Coinbase user who alleges he lost more than $31,000 after his bitcoin wallet was hacked. Bielski alleges he attempted to contact the company through multiple channels to no avail, getting lost in a customer service nightmare. Coinbase has certain responsibilities under the Electronic Funds Transfer Act to protect its customers from fraud; Bielski alleges the company failed to comply with this law. When he sought civil justice in federal court, Coinbase tried to compel him to arbitrate his claims. A Northern District of California court ruled that the arbitration provisions in Coinbase’s terms of service are unenforceable under California contract law, a ruling which would allow the case to proceed to trial.
Coinbase appealed the decision in Bielski and a similar ruling in another case to the Ninth Circuit and asked the Ninth Circuit to stay the district court proceedings in both cases while the appeals were pending. When the Ninth Circuit refused to halt the litigation in the district courts, the crypto exchange asked the Supreme Court to hear the cases (writ of certiorari), to expedite its consideration of them, and to stay the district court proceedings during the Supreme Court’s review.
The cases are Coinbase, Inc. v. Bielski, No. 22-105 (Supreme Court) and Bielski v. Coinbase, Inc., No. 22-15566 (9th Circuit).