A group of Dallas area homeowners used HomeAdvisor’s website to locate contractors for home improvement projects. Though they were recommended by the site and subsequently hired by the homeowners, the contractors abandoned the projects. The homeowners/plaintiffs then sued HomeAdvisor in Texas state court. HomeAdvisor filed a motion to compel arbitration which the trial court denied. On appeal, a three-member court of appeals panel reversed, ruling in favor of HomeAdvisor and compelling arbitration.
In creating an account to use HomeAdvisor’s site, each of the plaintiffs answered a series of questions before proceeding to a “submit page”. The submit page expressly stated that the consumers’ use of HomeAdvisor’s services was subject to their agreement to HomeAdvisor’s terms and conditions which was presented as a hyperlink that consumers could click on and review at any time. The terms and conditions included a section entitled “ARBIRTRATION AND GOVERNING LAW” containing an arbitration clause.
The appellate court observed that the “submittal page was uncluttered [and] a large orange submit button with the phrase ‘By submitting this request, you are agreeing to our Terms & Conditions’ written directly underneath” and concluded that “[t]here is nothing misleading or confusing about HomeAdvisor’s presentation of its user agreement” and “the submitted screen gave [plaintiffs] reasonably conspicuous notice of the company’s terms of service, including the arbitration provision.”
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