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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Court orders arbitration on non-signatory claims

Courts Arbitration FCRA Class Action

Courts

On January 21, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted a national cable provider’s motion to compel arbitration in a putative class action alleging the company violated the FCRA by checking consumer credit reports without a permissible purpose. According to the opinion, after the consumer filed the putative class action, the company moved to arbitrate the claims pursuant to a provision contained “in various written materials that were originally provided to [the consumer]’s household in 2006” upon the opening of a company account. In response, the consumer asserts that the arbitration provision is not binding on him, because he was not the signatory on the document that contains the provision. The court disagreed with the consumer, concluding that, even though he was a non-signatory, he “actively sought and obtained benefits provided pursuant to the Subscriber Agreement, such that he is equitably estopped from avoiding the Arbitration Provision contained therein.” Specifically, the court acknowledged the existence of the arbitration agreement was not in dispute, but whether the consumer was bound by it. The court found that, not only did the consumer obtain benefits from the household account, he also “exceris[ed] control over the account,” including placing servicing calls regarding the account. Moreover, because the claims filed by the consumer fall within the scope of the arbitration agreement, as they “relate[] to [company] and/or [consumer]’s relationship with [company],” and the court granted the company’s motion to compel arbitration.

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