The California Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s ruling denying a motion to compel arbitration filed by a collection operation, reaching the same conclusion that the plaintiff never officially consented to arbitration with the original creditor, and allowing a Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case to proceed.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Fleming v. Oliphant Financial can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff sued the defendant, alleging a violation of the RFDCPA. The defendant filed a petition to compel arbitration, seeking to dismiss the complaint. An affidavit from the defendant indicated that the plaintiff electronically applied for a credit card back in 2013 and was approved. There was no evidence of a signed agreement between the plaintiff and the credit card issuer. The defendant submitted three separate cardmember agreements — one when the card was originally issues, one when the last payment on the account was made, and one when the account was charged off — each of which had the same language regarding arbitration. The plaintiff argued that he denied ever agreeing to settle disputes through arbitration or that he received a copy of the cardmember agreement containing the arbitration provision. A state court judge denied the motion to compel arbitration, which the defendant appealed.
Disagreeing with the defendant’s position that it is up to an arbitrator to determine if an agreement exists, the Appeals Court — using precedent from the Supreme Court — determined that it is a court’s job to resolve any disagreements.
Ultimately, the defendant did not have enough evidence to prove the plaintiff consented to arbitration, the Appeals Court ruled.