Ninth Circuit Affirms Denial of Motion to Compel Arbitration Against Non-Signatory Spouse of Contracting Party

Carlton Fields
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Carlton Fields

In a case brought under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed an order denying the defendant corporation’s motion to compel arbitration, which the company filed pursuant to a truck purchase agreement signed by the plaintiff’s husband, but not by her. The company contended that the plaintiff was bound by the arbitration clause because she was designated as her husband’s agent and authorized third party on the subject account, made payments on the account, made substantive changes to the account, called the company regarding the account, and filed a TCPA claim that arose out of the contract containing the arbitration agreement. The Ninth Circuit, however, held that the district court correctly ruled that under Florida law, which governed the contract, the plaintiff was not bound to her spouse’s agreement to arbitrate. The court further held that the plaintiff was not equitably estopped from avoiding the arbitration agreement, observing that, generally, Florida courts do not apply equitable estoppel to estop non-signatories. The court concluded that the plaintiff had not derived sufficient benefit under the contract to warrant application of estoppel.

Canady v. Bridgecrest Acceptance Corp., No. 20-15997 (9th Cir. Nov. 8, 2021).

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