On April 23, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a district court’s refusal to compel arbitration against a technology company, concluding that children are not bound by arbitration provisions in their parents’ service contracts with the company. The appeals court held that the plaintiff children, who were not signatories to the service contracts, could not be compelled to arbitration because “a party cannot be required to submit to arbitration any dispute which he has not agreed so to submit.”

In their June 2019 suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, the plaintiffs alleged that one of the corporation’s services caught and documented their communications, in violation of state wiretapping law. The defendant asserted that “the children were bound by arbitration provisions in the service contracts signed by their parents because they directly benefited from the agreements.”  In affirming the district court’s decision on appeal, the Ninth Circuit agreed that the doctrine of equitable estoppel did not bind the plaintiff children to arbitrate because they “are not asserting any right or looking to enforce any duty created by the contracts between their parents and the corporation. Instead, plaintiffs bring only state statutory claims that do not depend on their parents’ contracts.”