Be careful what you wish for.
After years of including a mandatory arbitration clause in its terms of service with its customers, internet behemoth Amazon has quietly changed its terms of service after being inundated with tens of thousands of arbitration demands by plaintiffs’ lawyers over privacy concerns with Amazon’s Alexa devices.
For years, Amazon included a mandatory arbitration clause requiring that any dispute be resolved via binding arbitration with the American Arbitration Association, and that any arbitration be individual and not in the form of a class or representative action. But in May Amazon reportedly advised plaintiffs’ counsel that the terms of service have changed, and that lawsuits may now be filed against Amazon directly in court.
While this may seem like a victory of sorts for plaintiffs, the new terms of service require that any dispute be litigated exclusively in state or federal court in King County, Washington, according only to the laws of the state of Washington, and that all parties agree to waive any right to jury trial. It is unclear if the exclusive venue, choice of law, and jury trial waiver provisions will sustain legal scrutiny.
Notwithstanding this policy reversal, Amazon continues to push for binding arbitration in pending class action suits filed against it. For example, in March Amazon moved to compel arbitration in a case involving Amazon Flex drivers who allege wiretapping and eavesdropping of private Flex driver Facebook groups. Oral argument on Amazon’s motion to compel arbitration is set before California federal judge William Q. Hayes on June 15th.
UWWM’s Center for National Class and Mass Actions will continue to monitor this emerging legal landscape and provide updates on this and other legal news involving class and mass actions. The select mediators and arbitrators at UWWM’s Center for National Class and Mass Actions have decades of specific experience in class and mass actions and are uniquely qualified to assist you in resolving these legal disputes. For further information and scheduling, please visit our website.