Brannock & Humphries Achieves Win For Consumers In Case Involving Samsung Smartphone

Agreeing with arguments made by Brannock & Humphries in written briefs and in an oral argument last month in Seattle, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed a California district court’s ruling that the packaging on Samsung’s Galaxy S7 smartphones did not put consumers on notice that all legal claims against the company would be sent to arbitration.

The case arose when one of Samsung’s phones caught fire in the pants pocket of Brannock & Humphries’ client, causing him to suffer severe burns.  Samsung moved to compel arbitration of the subsequently filed personal injury lawsuit, relying on an arbitration provision contained within the safety and warranty brochure that comes with the phone.  The district court declined to send the case to arbitration, and Samsung appealed.

In the Ninth Circuit, the dispute centered around whether Samsung provided adequate notice of the arbitration provision to its customers.  As Brannock & Humphries explained, a consumer who purchased the Galaxy S7 phone would have had no idea of Samsung’s offer to arbitrate: the box containing the phone said nothing about arbitration, nor did the cover of the brochure inside the box.  The Ninth Circuit agreed with the trial court that Samsung’s “vague reference to terms and conditions” in the fine print on the back of the smartphone box was insufficient to put consumers on notice of the arbitration provision.

Brannock & Humphries’ client will now be able to present his case to a jury of his peers, instead of to a commercial arbitration panel.