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Is Hate Too Strong A Word (When It Comes To Compelling Arbitration In California)?

When it comes to compelling arbitration in California, courts often put the moving party to the test. The most recent example is the Fourth Appellate District’s decision in Fabian v. Renovate America. Affirming a lower court’s decision, the Court of Appeal held that the defendant failed to meet its burden of proof that an electronically signed contract – one containing a 15-digit alphanumeric verification from DocuSign and the words “Identify Verification Code: ID Verification Complete” – was in fact signed by the plaintiff. Stating that the “burden of authenticating an electronic signature is not great,” the Court of Appeal went on to hold that the defendant had not met its burden as it had failed to submit evidence explaining the DocuSign verification process. The court of appeal acknowledged the acceptance of a DocuSign verified signature in Newton v. Am. Debt Servs (N.D. Cal. 2012) 854 F.Supp.2d 712, but distinguished that case finding that Renovate had not submitted “evidence about the process used to verify Fabian’s electronic signature via DocuSign, including who sent Fabian the Contract, how the Contract was sent to her, how Fabian’s electronic signature was placed on the Contract, who received the signed the [sic] Contract, how the signed Contract was returned to Renovate, and how Fabian’s identification was verified as the person who actually signed the Contract.”

In today’s computerized world, electronic signatures are everywhere. E-commerce depends on electronic signatures – a necessity given the lack of in-person meetings in the cyber world. Authenticating such electronic signatures, however, should not be taken for granted no matter how well recognized the process or acceptance of such signatures is in the business world. Laying a foundation and making a record is still a necessity in court – a reminder to all who rely on electronic signatures to conduct business.

Copyright © 2022, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 356
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About this Author

Fred R. Puglisi, Sheppard Mullin Law Firm, Trial Legal Specialist
Partner

Fred Puglisi is a partner in the Century City office and co-chair of the Business Trial Practice Group. He was recognized as a California Lawyer of the Year in 2003 for his successful defense and trial of a $2 billion class action.

Areas of Practice

Mr. Puglisi has extensive experience in complex and general business litigation in state and federal courts, including class actions. He has conducted numerous trials and arbitrations, including trying class and representative actions. Mr. Puglisi also has broad appellate work which includes arguments to the...

310-228-3733
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