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Can an Invoice/Packing Slip Bind a Consumer to Arbitrate?

What happens if you order a product and the invoice/packing slip includes an arbitration agreement? Have you lost your right to a jury trial if there is a dispute about the product? According to the Houston 1st Court of Appeals, the answer is probably no.

The case involves a consumer who purchased coins during a phone call with a salesman for a coin and bullion company. The consumer agreed to purchase the coins, sent a check, and received his coins. The coins were accompanied by an invoice and packing slip that included an arbitration agreement.

When a dispute arose, the coin company claimed the consumer was bound by the written arbitration clause printed on the packing slip. The Texas First Circuit Court of Appeals in Houston ruled that there was no valid agreement to arbitration. The Court ruled that the contract was perfected when the consumer agreed to purchase the coins, sent a payment for the coins, and the coins were shipped. The arbitration clause on the invoice/packing slip was merely an invitation to amend or modify the original contract. There was no evidence that the consumer agreed to the proposed amendment or modification.

This is an important opinion for Texas consumers. A consumer’s right to a jury trial is an important right. Companies have increasingly attempted to force consumers into arbitration agreements over the past few decades. This opinion shows that consumers do not lose their right to a jury trial just because companies print arbitration clauses on their invoices or packing slips.

LaGarde Law Firm represents individuals and businesses in arbitration proceedings in Texas, Florida, and Louisiana. Many of our clients have relied on our contingent fee arrangement to afford the costs of arbitration. If you have an arbitration agreement and have suffered a substantial loss, call us for a free consultation, Call today, toll free, at 1-866-LAGARDE (1-866-524-2733), or if you prefer, fill out the form on our CONTACT US page.

You can read the First Court of Appeals’ opinion below:

Opinion