Cases & Deals

H&R Block wins consumer arbitration agreement enforcement case in Missouri Court of Appeals

Clients H&R Block, Inc.

On May 6, 2014, the Missouri Court of Appeals reversed a Missouri trial court's order finding Jones Day client H&R Block, Inc.'s consumer arbitration agreement unconscionable.

In Lopez v. H&R Block, Inc., the plaintiff filed a class action lawsuit alleging that H&R Block charged a deceptive compliance fee in connection with tax preparation services. In the trial court, H&R Block moved to compel the plaintiff to arbitrate his claims. The trial court held that the arbitration agreement contained in the plaintiff's consumer services agreement was unconscionable because the arbitration-related fees the plaintiff may have to pay created a substantial obstacle to litigating his small-value claim.

In reversing the trial court's order, the Missouri Court of Appeals held that the trial court clearly erred in finding that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable based on the public policy concern that consumers with small-value claims would be unable to seek relief in arbitration. Specifically, the appellate court found that Missouri Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court precedent precluded a court from invalidating an arbitration agreement based on state-law public policy considerations related to the vindication of small-value claims. The court remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.

Brian J. Murray argued the case in front of the Missouri Court of Appeals. The Jones Day team on the appeal also consisted of Hugh R. Whiting and Kevin D. Boyce of the Firm's Cleveland office.

Lopez v. H&R Block, Inc., No. WD76724 (Mo. App.)

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