California High Court Rejects Arbitration Clause and Class Action Waiver in Monthly Subscription Fee Class Action

Ever go online just looking for a quick, simple answer from a professional? You may have found the website Just Answer, an online question and answer service that connects you with experts in various subjects. The San Francisco based website says it has available experts like “doctors, lawyers, tech support and vets.”

The website claims you can try their service for seven days for just $5. If further interested, the price is $46/month. The website says you can “cancel anytime.”

But two women say they were misled by those terms, and the California courts recently agreed they can move forward with a class action lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, the consumers used the JustAnswer website to submit a single question to an “expert” for what they believed would be a one-time fee of $5, but JustAnswer automatically enrolled them in a costlier monthly membership.”

The Plaintiffs filed the class action lawsuit against JustAnswer, alleging it routinely enrolled online consumers in automatic renewal membership programs without providing clear terms, and asking explicitly for consent.

Seeking to avoid liability, JustAnswer claimed Plaintiffs agreed to their “Terms of Service,” which included a class action waiver and a binding arbitration clause, when they entered their payment information on the website and clicked a button that read, “Start my trial.”

The trial court denied JustAnswer’s petition to compel arbitration and JustAnswer appealed. The appellate court upheld the denial of the petition to compel arbitration. While Just Answer’s “Terms of Service” included provisions compelling individual arbitration and waiving the right to file or participate in a class action, JustAnswer took the position that consumers consented to the “Terms of Service” by entering their payment information and clicking a button which read “Start My Trial.” This procedure is called a “sign in wrap” agreement. The relevant provisions of the “Terms of Service” were found to be invalid and unenforceable because of the “sign-in wrap.”

More specifically, the San Diego court found “the (JustAnswer) hyperlink does not take the consumer to terms advising them that they would be bound by an agreement to arbitrate. Instead, the terms are available only if the consumer scrolls through the disclaimers and clicks on a secondary link to the terms of service.” The appellate court also found the hyperlink “was to a separate web page that displayed the 26-page terms of service.” The court ruled the lawsuit can move forward as a class action.

If you have been enrolled in a membership or subscription without your knowledge, or the membership or subscription was automatically renewed without your permission and consent, you may have claims against the business that did this to you. If you believe you are a victim of this business, GFM is here to investigate your potential claims, and you should reach out to us.

The attorneys at GFM have decades of experience successfully litigating consumer protection and fraud class action claims against some of the largest and most powerful companies in the nation. Call at (833) FIND-JUSTICE or visit us at our website: www.4-justice.com for more information

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