WEBSITE LAYOUT PASSES MUSTER: Court Enforces Cruise Line’s TCPA and Arbitration Disclosures Over Objection
Those of you who attended Lead Generation World heard me discuss the big trend from back in 2020 in which Courts were refusing to enforce online disclosures owing to perceived problems with website layout.
Things like “below the button” disclosures and distracting visual elements were often described as defeating a manifestation of assent to disclosure terms in that unfortunate line of cases.
Well, 2022 has brought a couple of cases that have determined website disclosures to be just fine. Yesterday I reported on a big win by Efinancial, and today we have a nice victory by a cruise ship company.
In Barney v. Grand Caribbean Cruises, Inc., CASE NO. 21-CV-61560-RAR, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8263 (S.D. Fl. January 17, 2022) the Defendant moved to enforce an arbitration provision on its website arguing that the Plaintiff had agreed to the terms and conditions by submitting a sweepstakes entry form.
Predictably, the Plaintiff argued that the disclosures were not enforceable because the website layout was insufficient–specifically that the font was too small and the terms excessively lengthy.
The Court was not impressed.
Noting that the disclosure was plainly readable and above the button–and it required a check box–the Court simply refused to heed the Plaintiff’s argument that he didn’t know he was agreeing to consent and arbitration. Here’s the analysis:
As you can see the Court found the layout to be perfectly appropriate and was particularly moved by the presence of the opt in check box. Although many cases have recently enforced disclosures WITHOUT checkboxes, they do remain favored by the Courts.
I think Barney represents a case of a pretty clearly enforceable provision. The above-the-button text coupled with the radial button and the clear articulation of the terms being accepted made this an easy case for the court.
I will note that the TCPA consent is connected to the terms and conditions lingo–I don’t love that since the TCPA disclosure should be “separately signed”. But the agreement by the consumer that they are over 25 is a nice touch–helps to protect against claims that minors are supplying consent illegally.