Amazon Wins Bid to Keep Eclipse Glasses Suit Out of Court

A South Carolina couple must individually arbitrate claims that they suffered eye damage after viewing last summer’s solar eclipse through flawed glasses sold by Amazon.com .

Amazon provided adequate notice of a mandatory arbitration provision and a class action waiver, the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina said.

The July 25 ruling joins others that have allowed companies to bind users to arbitration by hyperlinking to terms of use and including a notice that hitting “buy” constitutes agreement.

Thomas Payne bought a three-pack of glasses and gave one pair to his fiancee, Kayla Harris. They filed a proposed class suit saying they never got a cautionary email from Amazon that the glasses might not be safe, and suffered eye problems.

Payne argued the order page he used was similar to the one a federal appeals court in Nicosia v. Amazon.com, Inc. said didn’t adequately tell purchasers they were were agreeing to keep disputes out of court.

But the page has changed, the court said.

When Payne ordered the glasses, a “place your order” button appeared next to a statement hyperlinking to conditions and including a notice that the user agreed to those conditions by ordering, the court said. Another “place your order” button appeared above the statement.

Since Nicosia, courts have upheld arbitration agreements that were similar in appearance to the way Amazon presented its conditions of use to Payne, the court here said.

And although Harris didn’t personally agree to arbitrate, she is still bound by the contract between Payne and Amazon, the court said.

McGowan Hood and Felder LLC and others represented the plaintiffs. Gallivan White and Boyd represented Amazon.

The case is Payne v. Amazon.com, D.S.C., No. 17-2313, 7/25/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Steinberg in Washington at jsteinberg@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com