Arbitration Agreements and Limiting Rights to Sue
When downloading the most popular app in the country right now, Pokémon Go, users are presented with the app’s “terms of service,” which they must accept in order to download the app and play the mobile game. Most people just click “accept” on the lengthy “terms of service” agreements that often accompany the download of a new app or game without really reading the fine print. Most people do not think the terms will ever really matter, or that they have a choice in accepting if they want the product. However, not reading some of the important terms can result in giving up important rights. Included in the “terms of service” agreement for Pokémon Go is an arbitration clause.What is Arbitration?
In accepting the “terms of service,” a person accepting the arbitration clause agrees to limit any dispute resolution arising out of the use of the app to arbitration. Arbitration is a dispute resolution process in which a third party hears the dispute outside the court judicial process and issues a binding decision. Courts are often required to uphold arbitration agreements between consumers and companies pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act.
This means that, with the exception of small claims court cases, any user who has a claim against the makers of Pokémon Go must submit to binding arbitration and cannot sue in court and have his case heard by a jury. A user who does not opt out of the arbitration agreement would also not be able to join other users in a class action lawsuit against the game makers.
Settlement awards received through arbitration are usually a fraction of what a consumer with a valid claim would receive before a jury, and can be limited in amount by language included in the rest of the agreement. There are generally no awards for punitive damages in arbitration. Arbitration can also cost the person bringing a claim a substantial amount of money in upfront fees. While the Pokémon Go arbitration agreement notes that the companies behind the game would meet some of the costs, this is limited to claims under $75,000.
While arbitration may be beneficial in some disputes, it is rarely so in a consumer context. Therefore, it is advisable that is a person has a chance to opt out of an arbitration they do so within the required time. For Pokémon Go players, this is within 30 days of accepting the “terms of service.”Contact Us for Legal Assistance
If you have suffered a personal injury and are considering a settlement or other dispute resolution avenues that do not lead to a court case, contact an experienced personal injury attorney before making a decision in order to discuss the best way to ensure you receive the compensation to which you are entitled. For a free consultation, contact the skilled San Jose personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P., serving Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, Monterey County, Alameda County, San Benito County, and the Bay Area. Our attorneys are prepared to help you immediately.Sources
- Pokémon GO Terms of Service
- Supreme Court says binding arbitration clauses in consumer contracts trump California law