Bazemore v. Jefferson Cap. Sys., LLC, No. 15-12607, 3:14-cv-00115 (11th Cir. July 5, 2016) [click for opinion]
In 2014, Plaintiff Christina L. Bazemore filed a putative class action against Jefferson Capital System, LLC ("JCS"). Bazemore alleged that JCS violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.), by filing a time-barred proof of claim in her bankruptcy proceeding.
In its claim, JCS sought to recover amounts owed on a credit card that Bazemore received from JCS's predecessor-in-interest. JCS moved to compel arbitration based on an arbitration clause allegedly contained in the credit card agreement. The district court denied JCS's motion to compel, finding that Bazemore's claim was outside the scope of the arbitration clause. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed but on different grounds—it found that JCS failed to meet its burden of proof to establish a valid arbitration agreement between the parties.
JCS alleged that, based on the credit card application process, Ms. Bazemore would have accepted the terms and conditions governing use of the credit card when she opened the account online and received the agreement in the mail, both of which, it alleged, contained the arbitration clause. JCS argued that these actions, in addition to her charges on the credit card, were sufficient to establish her assent to the "clickwrap agreement," an agreement formed by requiring the computer user to consent to all terms and conditions by clicking on a dialogue box on the screen in order to proceed with the transaction.
The court concluded that JCS's conclusory allegations stating that Ms. Bazemore accepted the terms and conditions governing her account or that the agreement would have been mailed to her, were insufficient to establish that Ms. Bazemore did, in fact, assent to the agreement. The court noted that there was no evidence that the agreement had appeared on her computer and she had agreed to its terms and conditions, that she had received the agreement in the mail, or that the agreement that she would have received contained the alleged arbitration clause.
Thus, the Eleventh Circuit found that JCS failed to meet its burden of proof to establish the existence of a valid arbitration agreement between the parties and affirmed the district court's decision that denied the motion to compel arbitration.