New opinion: Third Circuit upholds arbitration denial in rental-car-charges case

Bacon v. Avis Budget Group—civil / arbitration—affirmance—Shwartz

The Third Circuit today affirmed a district court’s denial of a motion to compel arbitration brought by a rental car company based on language that was (a) on the back of the car-rental form and (b) on the rental websites. The agreement some of the renters signed purported to incorporate terms set out “in the rental jacket,” but the court held that that term didn’t indicate clearly enough what the rental jacket was, and video of the rentals showed renters signing without seeing or being told about the terms on the back.  The court held that the website evidence failed because the defendants failed to produce admissible evidence about the sites’ contents and design. The court also held that it had appellate jurisdiction over the arbitration denials, including a denial based on a disputed fact to be decided at trial and a denial that in essence was without prejudice subject to additional discovery.

Joining Shwartz were Ambro and Bibas. Arguing counsel were Kim Watterson of Reed Smith for the rental car companies and Greg Kohn of Nagel Rice for the renters.