On March 31, 2022, the Florida Supreme Court issued its opinion in Airbnb v. John Doe, et al. There, the Supreme Court addressed the issue of who decides arbitrability – that is, whether a dispute is subject to a contractual arbitration provision – the arbitrator or a judge.
In this case, a Texas couple reserved, on-line, a condominium in Florida with Airbnb. This process involved a “clickwrap” agreement, in which the couple agreed to Airbnb’s terms of service. Those terms included a section entitled Dispute Resolution. Within that section, the terms provided that any disputes between the parties would be subject to resolution through arbitration administered by the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) in accordance with its rules. Those rules (not set forth in the clickwrap agreement) provided, among other things, that the arbitrator would have the power to rule on his or her own jurisdiction, including whether any particular claim or counterclaim would be subject to arbitration.
Unbeknownst to the Texas couple, the owner of the condominium unit they rented had placed hidden cameras throughout it. The couple alleged that the owner had secretly recorded their entire stay in the unit. After learning of this, they filed suit in Manatee County, Florida, naming both the owner and Airbnb as defendants. Airbnb moved to compel arbitration, and the trial court agreed. However, the Second District Court of Appeal reversed, holding that the AAA Arbitration Rules were two steps removed from the clickwrap agreement itself as well as being hidden within a body of procedural rules, and thus there was not clear and unmistakable evidence that the parties consented to this.
The case went to the Florida Supreme Court. The Supreme Court reversed the Second District Court and sided with other state courts of appeal and Federal court decisions. It held that the clauses were enforceable, and the arbitrator had the power to determine whether any claims or counterclaims raised were subject to arbitration.
The Court’s decision means that mandatory arbitration, including the arbitrator deciding whether a particular claim should even be arbitrated, can be agreed to (and enforced) even by an online “clickwrap agreement” that does not explicitly mention such power of the arbitrator, as long as it references or mentions the applicable arbitration rules (but does not have to set forth those rules themselves).
For additional questions on the authority of arbitrators, please contact our commercial and civil litigation teams. Visit our contact page here.
ShuffieldLowman attorneys Clay Roesch and Megan Nowicki recently represented Davis Group, P.A., an Orlando accounting firm in a lawsuit against a former employee who violated restrictive covenants put in place to protect its customer and client relationships. The Davis Group initiated litigation with the former employee which went to a four-day jury trial on February 28, 2022. During the week of February 28, 2022, the jury reached a fully favorable verdict in favor of The Davis Group and awarded monetary damages, and made factual findings to support injunctive relief.
ShuffieldLowman is pleased to represent the Davis Group, P.A. in this matter which aimed to protect its existing customer relationships. We are proud of our team who worked so hard to ensure their client received fair compensation in accordance with the law and facts of the case.
Learn more about our Orlando litigation team by visiting our practice area page.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA — ShuffieldLowman recently announced that attorney Jennifer Reed has joined the firm’s Orlando office.
Reed is an experienced litigation attorney, focusing her practice in the areas of intellectual property and civil litigation. She works to help her clients avoid litigation, including service as a dispute resolution negotiator. Her trial experience includes representing clients in state and federal court, including bench and jury trials and post-judgment proceedings. Reed received the Rising Star award from Super Lawyers 2018-2021. She holds her J.D., cum laude, from Florida A&M College of Law and a B.S. in Marketing and a B.A. in French Studies, both cum laude, from the University of Florida.
ShuffieldLowman’s five offices are located in Orlando, Tavares, DeLand, Port Orange, and the newest location in Lake Nona. The firm is a 45 attorney, full-service law firm, practicing in the areas of corporate law, estate planning, real estate, and litigation. Specific areas include tax law, securities, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, estate planning, and probate, planning for families with closely held businesses, guardianship and elder law, tax controversy – Federal and State, non-profit organization law, banking and finance, land use and government law, commercial and civil litigation, fiduciary litigation, construction law, association law, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights, labor and employment, and mediation.
This month the Orlando Business Journal released their book of lists. ShuffieldLowman made the lists for Central Florida Litigation and Intellectual Property law firms. The lists represent Lake, Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties. ShuffieldLowman is proud to rank in the Top 10, ranking 7th for Intellectual Property Law Firms and the Top 20, ranking 15th for Litigation Law Firms in Central Florida. Experienced, dedicated, and client-focused, ShuffieldLowman’s attorneys are committed to building lifelong relationships by providing exceptional and efficient legal services and are honored to serve the Central Florida area.