A home-study RN course contract sold door-to-door in San Diego contained an arbitration clause. This decision affirms an order denying a motion to compel arbitration under it. Substantial evidence supported the trial court’s finding of procedural unconscionability. The clause appeared in a long paragraph titled Governing Law and Dispute Resolution in small type on the back side of the one-page 11 x 14 contract. No special attention was drawn to the paragraph by the salesman, although he made marks and drew attention to other portions of the contract. Plaintiffs’ uncontradicted declarations said they were rushed through the signing process and were unsophisticated. The arbitration clause was substantively unconscionable because it required arbitration in Indiana, defendant’s home, provided that defendant would select the arbitrator (subject to buyer’s consent, not to be unreasonably withheld) and imposed a one-year limitations period on claims. The fact that the arbitration clause allowed a buyer to appear at the arbitration by telephone or video hook-up was not enough to save it, since even so the buyer would be at a substantial disadvantage.
California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 1 (McConnell, P.J.); June 14, 2016 (published July 8, 2016); 2016 WL 3408855