More Bad News for Uber’s Contract Formation–Ramos v. Uber
In last year’s Meyer v. Uber, Uber won an important ruling in the Second Circuit upholding its online contract formation with riders. Still, the contract formation news has not been all good for Uber. For example, in last year’s Metter v. Uber, a different court said that the pop-up keyboard for inputting credit card numbers hid the contract call-to-action, jeopardizing contract formation.
Today’s case also has to sting. Ramos downloaded UberWAV, an app for requesting wheelchair-assisted vans. Ramos claims she placed 3 orders in an hour without success, and she sued for this alleged failure to deliver services. Uber invoked the arbitration clause in its T&Cs. The court denies arbitration.
Unfortunately, the court doesn’t provide screenshots. Instead, the court describes the key screen:
This opinion exposes an obvious deficiency in the Meyer ruling. The Meyer court based its decision on the expectations of reasonably prudent smartphone users, but it determined those expectations using judicial intuition, not empirical evidence. That’s not how we should make the sausage. It means other courts can reach conflicting conclusions about those expectations, without any clear way to resolve those differences.
I think this opinion evidences a broader trend that courts are becoming more exacting about each and every aspect of forming an online contract, especially when arbitration is involved. Contract formation processes are now failing that historically would have succeeded. We should assume judges will scrutinize online contract formation with some skepticism and with zero deference to the drafter/implementer.
Case citation: Ramos v. Uber Technologies, Inc., 2018 WL 2451810 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. May 31, 2018)