In Wallrich, et al. v. Samsung, Case No. 22-CV-5506 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 12, 2023), federal district court judge Harry D. Leinenweber ordered Samsung to pay arbitration fees for almost 50,000 arbitration demands – and submit to arbitrating consumers’ claims that Samsung had committed violations of the Illinois privacy laws. Note that the court required this payment even though the arbitration provider was willing to waive the payment, pursuant to a provision in its supplemental rules.
Here is a report on the case from Duane Morris:
“The Named Plaintiffs filed 49,986 arbitration claims with the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) on September 7, 2022 on behalf of consumers who are users of Samsung mobile devices. Id. at 2, 5. They alleged that the defendants had unlawfully collected their biometric information in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. The user agreement required all disputes be resolved in final, binding arbitration and it prohibited class actions. Id. at 3.
The agreement also required use of the services of the AAA and explicitly invoked the AAA’s rules, including its supplemental rules relating to arbitration fees. Id. On September 27, 2022, Samsung refused to pay its portion of the initial arbitration fees to the AAA because it believed the claimants included deceased individuals and others who did not reside in Illinois. Id. at 6. Plaintiffs responded by moving to compel arbitration on October 7, 2022. Id. at 7.
Judge Leinenweber compelled arbitration of the claims of living, Illinois resident petitioners and ordered the respondents to pay the AAA arbitration fees. He first concluded that the arbitration agreements are valid between Samsung and those who actually are its consumers. Id. at 21-22. Second, he noted that as to the petitioners that respondents suspected were either deceased or not Illinois residents, he explained that petitioners’ counsel used Samsung’s own customer list to remove ineligible petitioners. Id. Third, he determined that the arbitration agreement left questions of arbitrability to the arbitrator, thereby declining to rule on respondents’ argument that the collective action waiver in the agreement applies to mass arbitrations, which would bar petitioners’ claims with the AAA. Id. at 25. Finally he ruled that he had the authority to construe and enforce the AAA’s rules about arbitration fees, and determined that respondents are required to pay approximately $4.13 million in fees. Id. at 30, 33-34.”