Appellate court denies Samsung's request to move lawsuit to arbitration

By John Myers | Jan 30, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — Samsung recently lost an appeal to move a lawsuit from the courts to binding arbitration.

Recently, as a Phone Arena report said, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco unanimously rejected Samsung's request to move a lawsuit filed by Daniel Norica from the courts to a binding arbitration. Norica's lawsuit claims that the Samsung Galaxy S4 he purchased did not live up to the performance promises made by the company, particularly with regards to aspects like the speed and performance.

During its arguments, the global smartphone and tablet maker made the case that the warranty material that is included with the device consist of a binding agreement that prevents Norica, or any other purchasers, from resolving their claims in court. Instead, per the report, both parties are required to resolve the complaint through binding arbitration.

The first time Samsung made this argument was in 2014, when a U.S. district judge in California rejected the company's claims. The judge ruled that the warranty material distributed with the Galaxy S4 does not sufficiently alert its customers to the arbitration agreement.

Elaine Rushing, an lecturer at the University of California Berkeley School of Law who served on the Sonoma County Superior Court bench for nearly two decades and is now a full-time mediator and arbitrator with JAMS, told the Northern California Record that the 9th District Court's ruling does not leave Samsung with many options to move forward. She explained that the company is unlikely to be able to convince a judge to move the case to binding arbitration at this point.

“Even if the customer had signed an agreement, that would not necessarily mean that he had given up his rights for the case to be tried in a courtroom,” she said. “There are federal rules and rules specific to California that can override an agreement to move to binding arbitration. You have to look at that agreement, and it all depends on the way the contract is written.”

In a case such as this one, in which the customer did not specifically sign a document giving up his or her rights to have the case tried in front of a court, a judge is unlikely to grant Samsung's request, Rushing said.

“In the United States, we have a bias towards protecting a person's right to have a trial by jury, and the courts will be very reluctant to undermine this,” she said. “For example, a lawyer cannot waive the right on his or her client's behalf; someone can only do it on their own behalf.”

This could cause additional problems for Samsung because once the case goes to trial Norica's legal team will be able to press for discovery.

“In these kinds of cases, generally, the courts give the plantiff's legal team access to very liberal discovery procedures,” she said.

However, as Phone Arena noted, Samsung in the past has been successful with taking these kinds of cases to the Supreme Court.

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