Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Massachusetts Supreme Court Rules Uber’s “Frictionless” Imposition of Contract Terms Abridges Consumer Rights

Lieff Cabraser Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Public Justice in Uber Forced Arbitration Case

As reported by Law360, Public Justice (represented by Lieff Cabraser) has filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit urging the affirmation of the district court’s decision denying a motion to compel arbitration in a consumer lawsuit against the Uber ride-sharing service. In the case, Uber seeks to impose mandatory arbitration requirements on consumers — contract terms of which they had no notice and to which they did not affirmatively agree. The brief notes that this is not only contrary to longstanding law, but also fundamentally unfair: Companies should not be permitted to force consumers making online transactions to abide by terms to which they do not agree, simply because those terms are available elsewhere online.

Public Justice noted on its website, “It’s bad enough that a ton of corporations require their customers and employees to submit all their legal claims to private arbitration, a secretive system that is rigged against the individual. But to compound the unfairness, a growing number of corporations are hiding their forced arbitration clauses to make them more and more obscure.”

As the brief notes, “It is impossible to tell whether a consumer who has clicked ‘Register’ [to sign up with Uber] has seen and intends to accept Uber’s terms or whether the rider has no idea such terms even exist and merely wishes to register an Uber account. The action for both is exactly the same. This Court has never held that such an ambiguous action can constitute unambiguous assent.”

Here, the district court did the hard work and fact-finding, and determined that plaintiff Meyer did not consent to the terms of Uber’s user agreement, including the arbitration clause and class action lawsuit waiver. Plaintiffs’ brief argues that that decision should be affirmed, and that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals should make clear that companies cannot escape the basic requirements of contract formation, simply because their contracts are online.

About Public Justice

Public Justice, P.C. is a national public interest law firm that specializes in precedent-setting, socially significant civil litigation, with a focus on fighting corporate and governmental misconduct. To further its goal of defending access to justice for workers, consumers, and others harmed by corporate wrongdoing, Public Justice has long conducted a special project devoted to fighting abuses of mandatory arbitration. As part of this project, Public Justice has fought to protect the fundamental principle underlying both contract law and arbitration law: that parties may not be forced to abide by a contract—arbitration or otherwise—to which they have not agreed. Learn more at

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False advertising, bait and switch marketing, phony disclosure of manipulative bookkeeping devices, unconscionable pricing, and charging for services never provided are some of the many unfair and deceptive practices rogue corporations use to defraud consumers.

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