April 9, 2020

Judge rules that children are not bound by their parents’ agreement to arbitrate privacy claims with Amazon

In June 2019, purported class actions were filed against Amazon.com, Inc. and A2Z Development Center, Inc. in eight states, alleging that the state law privacy rights of the plaintiffs, who are children, were violated by Amazon’s Alexa service in their homes, when their voices and confidential communications were recorded. Amazon moved to dismiss the consolidated action in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, or in the alternative, to compel arbitration on the grounds that the plaintiffs were equitably estopped under Washington law from claiming they were not bound by the arbitration clause signed by their parents when they brought Alexa Voice Service into their homes. 

The court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, denying both Amazon’s motion to dismiss and its motion to compel arbitration. Applying Washington law, the court held that the minor children were nonsignatories to and could not be bound the arbitration provision.  The Court further concluded that the minor children were not equitably estopped from avoiding the arbitration clauses merely because they use the devices installed by their parents in their homes.  Based on these rulings, the case will proceed against Amazon in federal court.  

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