Arbitration has been a hot topic in legal circles and court opinions over the last decade. The U.S. Supreme Court and Federal Appeals courts have issued a number of high-profile decisions addressing issues of the enforceability of arbitration agreements, who gets to decide the threshold issue of arbitrability, and whether class claims can be decided in arbitration. Proponents of arbitration argue that it is quicker and less expensive than traditional litigation and provides greater confidentiality than the public court record. Opponents argue that it provides fewer avenues for discovery and allows unscrupulous defendants to shield their unsavory conduct or practices from the public eye.
Regardless of which side of the argument you fall on, the undeniable truth is that arbitration agreements are ubiquitous. Consumers find them in everything from cellphone contracts to gym membership agreements and everything in between. Many employers include them in employment contracts requiring employees to arbitrate claims of discrimination or harassment. And nearly all car dealerships include them in their sales contracts. In short, arbitration agreements are impossible to escape in modern life.
One customer of Hyline Auto Sales, a used car dealer, found this out the hard way. In April 2019, the plaintiff, Jason Taylor, purchased a vehicle from Hyline. Included in his sales contract was an agreement to submit disputes for arbitration by the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Only weeks after his purchase, Taylor filed an arbitration demand with the BBB. After no response from the BBB for a week, Taylor wrote the BBB asking for a hearing date. He requested a hearing again on May 1, 2019. On May 27, 2019, Taylor again wrote the BBB and asked for the appointment of an arbitrator. Over the following several months, Taylor contacted the BBB dozens of times requesting the appointment of an arbitrator and to set an arbitration date, without success. Continue reading ›