A federal judge in Michigan has denied a motion to compel arbitration in a case where a credit card company called the spouse of an account holder hundreds of times in an attempt to collect on a debt. The defendant had argued that because the phone number was included in the original application and because the spouse had participated in the account by making payments from a joint bank account that he was subject to the card’s mandatory arbitration provisions.
The plaintiff did not use the card to make any purchases, although he “sometimes” paid the bill, either online or over the phone, according to the ruling. The plaintiff’s wife included his phone number as a secondary contact on the credit card application.
A copy of the ruling, in case of Pyciak v. Credit One Bank, can be accessed by clicking here.
Any benefits the plaintiff received from the card are indirect and not specific enough for the court to deem the plaintiff to be an accountholder under the terms and conditions of the agreement between the defendant and the plaintiff’s wife, the judge ruled. The judge used a different ruling against the same defendant in a separate case, in which the daughter of a cardholder was deemed not to be bound by the terms of the card agreement, even though she used the card to make purchases for herself.
The judge rejected all of the arguments raised by the defendant to try and convince him that the plaintiff should be covered under the card’s arbitration agreement. For example, the defendant attempted to make the argument that the plaintiff was an authorized user of the card, but the provision of the agreement under which an accountholder can authorize someone else to use the card lays out a series of specific steps, none of which were followed in this case, the judge noted.
Credit One does not claim that it issued an additional card in Plaintiff’s name or that Plaintiff’s wife allowed him to use the card to make purchases. Rather, it contends that Plaintiff became an authorized user because he “used” the account by benefitting from purchases, making payments, and accessing the account online. Defendant does not provide authority for the proposition that these actions make Plaintiff an authorized user under the cardholder agreement.