Wollen v. Gulf Stream Restoration and Cleaning, LLC

In this appeal, the New Jersey Appellate Division considered an internet-based company’s method of communicating its terms and conditions in the arena of online consumer contracts. At issue was the validity of an arbitration provision embedded in those terms and conditions that “could” be accessed via a hyperlink before the plaintiff submitted her request for the defendant’s services. The plaintiff used HomeAdvisor, and internet-based company that utilizes an online portal to provide consumers with “free referrals” for local third-party service providers. When the plaintiff was dissatisfied with the work of the company that HomeAdvisor referred, the plaintiff sued. HomeAdvisor cited the arbitration provision set forth in the terms and asserted the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The Law Division agreed, determining that an arbitrator should decide the plaintiff’s claims. The Appellate Division reversed because the defendant company did not demonstrate that the consumer plaintiff was on notice of the arbitration provision prior to submitting her service request through the website. The Court held that the defendant failed to establish the plaintiff was aware of the arbitration provision. Therefore, the plaintiff did not knowingly and voluntarily agree to waive her right to resolve her disputes in court.

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