Carlton Fields

In a dispute over Uber’s alleged failure to provide a wheelchair-accessible ride-sharing option in New Orleans, the District Court held that, under California law, plaintiffs were not equitably estopped from avoiding arbitration because their ADA claims did not rely on Uber’s Terms and Conditions.

California law permits a party to compel a nonsignatory to arbitrate when a nonsignatory should be equitably estopped from arguing that he cannot be bound by an arbitration clause. Uber argued that Plaintiffs’ standing theory – that they may sue without downloading the Uber App and assenting to its Terms and Conditions because downloading the Uber App would be futile -is inextricably intertwined with the Terms and Conditions. However, equitable estoppel is inapplicable where a plaintiff’s allegations reveal no claim of any violation of any duty, obligation, term or condition imposed by the contract. Here, the plaintiffs do not rely on Uber’s Terms and Conditions – the case arises entirely under the ADA – and plaintiffs’ ADA claims are fully viable without any reference to Uber’s Terms and Conditions, so equitable estoppel does not apply. The decision denying Uber’s motion to compel arbitration was upheld by the Ninth Circuit.

Namisnak, et al. v. Uber Techs., Inc., et al., No. 18-15860 (9th Cir. August 24, 2020)