On April 5, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that an arbitration provision survived the termination of a subscriber agreement between a defendant cable company and a customer. According to the opinion, the plaintiff obtained services from the defendant in December 2016, and signed a subscriber agreement containing an arbitration provision covering claims that arose before the agreement was entered into and after it expired or was terminated. The plaintiff terminated the defendant’s services in August 2017, but later called the defendant in 2019 to inquire about pricing and services. The plaintiff filed a putative class action, alleging the defendant violated the FCRA when it accessed his credit report during the call without his permission, thus lowering his credit score. The defendant moved to compel arbitration, which the district court denied, ruling that while the parties may have intended for the arbitration provision to survive termination of the subscriber agreement, the plaintiff’s claim fell outside the scope of the subscriber agreement because “no reasonable person would believe that the Arbitration Provision was so all-encompassing as to apply to all claims regardless of when they occurred or whether they related to the agreement.” Moreover, the district court ruled that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) “could only compel [the plaintiff] to arbitrate his FCRA claim if it ‘arose out of’ or ‘relate[d] to’ the 2016 subscriber agreement, which the district court held it did not.
On appeal, the appellate court disagreed, concluding that the plaintiff’s FCRA claim relates to the 2016 subscriber agreement since the defendant was only able to conduct the credit check during the phone call because of its previous relationship with the plaintiff. The plaintiff argued that he was calling to obtain new services and not to reconnect services, but the appellate court countered that the “reconnection provision” contained within the subscriber agreement provides broad language that defines terminate, suspend, and disconnect as not necessarily being mutually exclusive. However, the 11th Circuit clarified that its holding is narrow, and that because it concluded that the plaintiff’s claim did arise out of the subscriber agreement the court did not need to and was not making a determination about whether the “broad scope” of the arbitration provision in the subscriber agreement is enforceable under the FAA.