On May 17, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals vacated a state circuit court’s ruling to deny a motion to compel arbitration in a case related to bounced convenience checks drawn on a consumer’s credit card account, finding that the circuit court’s order failed to contain sufficient findings of fact or conclusions of law to allow the Supreme Court of Appeals to conduct a proper review. According to the opinion, the plaintiff-respondent sued the debt collector defendants for invasion of privacy and violations of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act after the defendants attempted to collect debt arising from two convenience check transactions that were allegedly returned as unpaid. The defendants moved to compel arbitration and presented enrollment forms that contained arbitration clauses purportedly signed by the plaintiff-respondent. However, the plaintiff-respondent claimed the enrollment forms were never presented to her, that her signature was applied to the forms electronically after she used a card reader terminal to electronically cash her checks, and that the “signing process was ‘rushed’ and unfair.” Following a brief hearing on the motion to compel arbitration, the circuit court entered an order denying the motion to compel arbitration.
On appeal, the state’s highest court vacated the circuit court’s order, which it found to be “unclear and contradictory in its rulings,” in that the lower court appeared to determine that the plaintiff-respondent had not agreed to the terms of the arbitration agreement, but also appeared to determine that the contract was unconscionable and could not be enforced. The high court remanded the case for further proceedings, including determining whether an arbitration agreement existed, and if it did, whether the agreement was unconscionable.