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Peters v. Amazon Services LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Washington

November 5, 2013

JO ELLEN PETERS, et. al., Plaintiffs,
v.
AMAZON SERVICES LLC, Defendant

Page 1166

For Jo Ellen Peters, Ken Lane, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs: Britton D Monts, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, THE MONTS FIRM, AUSTIN, TX; R Martin Weber, Jr., Richard E Norman, LEAD ATTORNEYS, PRO HAC VICE, CROWLEY NORMAN LLP, HOUSTON, TX; Jennifer Rust Murray, Beth E Terrell, TERRELL MARSHALL DAUDT & WILLIE PLLC, SEATTLE, WA.

For Amazon Services LLC, Defendant: James C. Grant, John Goldmark, DAVIS WRIGHT TREMAINE (SEA), SEATTLE, WA.

OPINION

Page 1167

ORDER COMPELLING ARBITRATION

Marsha J. Pechman, Chief United States District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Amazon Service LLC's motion to compel arbitration. (Dkt. No. 17.) Having reviewed the motion, Plaintiffs' response (Dkt. No. 27), Defendant's reply (Dkt. No. 32), and all related papers, and having heard oral argument on October 24, 2013, the Court GRANTS the motion, finding Plaintiffs agreed to arbitrate their dispute with Amazon. The Court therefore orders the matter to arbitration and STAYS the case.

Background

Plaintiffs are former third-party Amazon.com sellers. (Dkt. No. 16.) They sue Amazon alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, violations of Washington's Consumer Protection Act, and unjust enrichment. (Id.) The complaint is brought on behalf of a putative class of persons who " opened a seller account with Amazon and...for whom Amazon has received Payment Transaction funds for at least one buyer on the Amazon.com website since March 15, 2009." (Id. at 9.) Plaintiffs also seek to represent a putative subclass of:

[A]ll persons or entities in the U.S. (1) who were provided written notice from Amazon that the account had been suspended; (2) who, at the time of such notice, had funds on account with Amazon; and (3) Amazon did not transmit such funds to the seller by the shorter of (a) 90 days following the initial date the account was suspended by Amazon, or (b) the date on which the seller was provided written notification that Amazon's review was complete and the decision to close the account was final.

(Id. at 9.) Plaintiffs amended their complaint in April 2013. (Id.)

1. Mr. Lane's Seller Accounts

Plaintiff Ken Lane first became an amazon.com seller in January 15, 2010. (Dkt. No. 18 at 2.) In opening his seller account, he agreed to the terms of the Participation Agreement. (Dkt. No. 18 at 4.) The Participation Agreement established eligibility for sellers, applicable policies, described Amazon's role in facilitating a marketplace, and the terms regarding transactions, seller taxes, and refunds/returns, among other subjects. (Dkt. No. 18-3). Pertinent to the instant motion, the Marketplace Participation Agreement contained a choice of law provision and forum selection clause:

The laws of the state of Washington govern this Participation Agreement and all of its terms and conditions, without giving effect to any principles of conflicts of laws or the Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods. Any dispute with Amazon or its affiliates relating in any way to these terms and conditions or your use of the Services in which the aggregate total claim for relief sought on behalf of one or more parties exceeds $7,500 shall be adjudicated in any state or federal court in King County, Washington, and you consent to exclusive jurisdiction and venue in such courts.

(Id. at 8.)

For the next two years, Mr. Lane marketed, sold, and shipped aviation-related

Page 1168

equipment using amazon.com. In April 2012, Amazon notified Mr. Lane that it had received complaints from other members of the amazon.com community about emails he had sent. (Dkt. No. 19-1 at 14.) Amazon investigated and determining he was conspiring with others to price-fix. (Id. at 18.) It then suspended Mr. Lane's account. (Id. at 3.) Mr. Lane alleges when the suspension occurred, Amazon was in possession of money for pending sales. (Dkt. No. 16 at 9.) Mr. Lane appealed the suspension. (Id.) Shortly after, Amazon notified Mr. Lane that the suspension was permanent. (Dkt. No. 19 at 3.) Mr. Lane demanded Amazon pay him the amounts it had collected from his final sales. (Dkt. No. 16 at 9.)

Five days after Amazon closed his 2010 account, Mr. Lane opened a second one. (Dkt. No. 19 at 3-4.) To open that account, Mr. Lane was presented with the Business Solutions Agreement (" BSA" ), an agreement setting the terms for the Amazon/seller relationship. (Dkt. No. 18 at 2.) The seller signup page included the following:

Amazon Services Business Solutions Agreement: ☐ I have read and accepted the terms and conditions of the Agreement.

(Id.) The underlined word " Agreement" included a hyperlink to the BSA. Mr. Lane clicked the box indicating he had read the BSA and agreed to its terms. (Id.) Pertinent to the pending motion is the BSA's ...


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