Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Trial Court Judge Rejects Uber's Effort To Enforce Binding Arbitration Clause Against Plaintiff Injured While In Uber Vehicle Accident





As the public’s use of Uber vehicles increasingly becomes the norm, cases pertaining to accidents involving Uber vehicles are on the rise.

Notably, when a customer downloads Uber’s app, the customer agrees that the customer is older than 18 and that the customer will not use a stolen credit card to pay your driver. One other possible provision of the agreement entered into with Uber when the app is downloaded is that the customer will agree to arbitrate all claims asserted against Uber.

That issue came to a head in the case of Kemenosh v. Uber Technologies, No. 181102703(C.P. Phila. Co. Jan. 3, 2020 Fletman, J.), which involved a Plaintiff who was injured as a passenger in an Uber vehicle when the Uber driver allegedly ran a red light and was involved in an accident in Center City Philadelphia.

After the Plaintiff filed suit against Uber and others, Uber filed preliminary objections asserting that the Plaintiff had agreed to resolved all claims by way of arbitration.

Uber argued that, by approving the ride-share’s “terms and conditions” when she downloaded the app prior to the accident, the Plaintiff had forfeited her right to a jury trial and had agreed, instead, to resolve any legal disputes only through binding arbitration.

Judge Abbe F. Fletman
Philadelphia County

Judge Abbe F. Fletman of Philadelphia Common Pleas Court disagreed and ruled that, because Uber was not able to prove that the Plaintiff actually read the company’s terms and conditions as she downloaded the app or before she rode in the Uber car that ran a red light, she cannot be forced to proceed to arbitration instead of her chosen forum of a jury trial.

The court found that, because the app makes it possible to register for Uber’s services without clicking on a hyperlink to review the company’s terms of service, “the registration process did not properly communicate an offer to arbitrate under Pennsylvania law.”

Judge Fletman did note that if the Plaintiff had been required to click the hyperlink to the binding arbitration clause language, and had checked a box confirming that she read and agreed to Uber’s terms and conditions, or received email notice of the company’s policies, Uber’s arbitration-only rule would perhaps be valid.

Anyone wishing to review this decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney Ken O'Neill of the Law Offices of Kenneth S. O'Neill for bringing this case to my attention.


UPDATE: On February 10, 2020, the trial court judge granted Uber's Motion for Reconsideration of this decision and vacated this decision.  


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