QUINSTREET TAKES THE WIN: California Court Grants Motion to Compel Arbitration

Hi folks! The Czar said he was impressed by the win from QuinStreet, Inc. last night. I would like to know why. Let’s dive in.

QuinStreet, Inc. is a marketing company that generates leads on its website www.amone.com. On November 13, 2021, Sharon Pizzaro alleged she received a pre-recorded voice message from “AmOne” who wanted to help with Pizzaro’s financial situation. Based on this, Pizzaro filed a putative class action against QuinStreet based on violation of the TCPA. No surprise here.

QuinStreet, however, sought an order to compel arbitration.

The subject arbitration clause contained in QuinStreet’s “Terms of Use” provides, in relevant part, that “all disputes between you and [QuinStreet] … with regard to your relationship with the Site, including disputes related to this Agreement, your use of the Site, and/or rights of privacy and/or publicity, will be resolved by binding, individual arbitration under the American Arbitration Association’s rules for arbitration of consumer-related disputes…”

To determine whether an arbitration agreement was formed, federal courts apply ordinary state-law principles that govern the formation of contracts. Because this case is in California, the federal court looked to California state law. “To form a contract under … California law, the parties must manifest their mutual assent to the terms of the agreement,” either “by written or spoken word” or “through conduct.”

QuinStreet argued that Pizarro manifested her assent when she clicked the “See My Rates” button on the web form. On the other hand, Pizarro, relying on Berman, argued no arbitration agreement was formed because QuinStreet failed to provide her with conspicuous notice of its Terms of use.

Lets take a look at the disclosure:

The Court found QuinStreet’s textual notice and Terms of Use hyperlink ,when viewed in the context of the overall design and content of the webpage was reasonably conspicuous. Why? The notice and hyperlink that appeared directly below the “See My Rates” button was set off by “amble white spacing” and surrounded by text of similar size. The webpage design was relatively uncluttered and had a uniformed color scheme. Lasty, the hyperlink was underlined and was adequately contrasted with the white background.

Pizzaro argued that even if the Terms of Use provided reasonably conspicuous notice, that no contract was formed because QuinStreet procured her assent by misrepresentation. More specifically, Pizzaro argued that QuinStreet misrepresented that Pizzaro would receive a loan rate in exchange for her contact information, but instead, she was referred to third party lenders who were going to provide her with loan options. The Court was unpersuaded. While Pizzaro argued that she had no knowledge of the terms of the contract, she failed to argue that she had no reasonable opportunity to learn the essential terms of the contract.

In the end, the Court found the parties did enter into an agreement to arbitrate and granted QuinStreet’s motion to compel arbitration. What a win for QuinStreet!


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