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Briceno v. Sprint Spectrum

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Citation Edit

Briceno v. Sprint Spectrum, L.P., 911 So.2d 176 (Fla. App. 2005) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

In December 2000, Plaintiff, Paola Briceno, contracted with Defendant Sprint for cellular telephone service. Briceno used the telephone and telephone number for both personal and business (babysitting) communications. In October 2003, Briceno brought her Sprint camera-telephone to a Sprint Store for repair. She claimed that Sprint employees asked for her email password and subsequently accessed her email and distributed photographs of her to third parties via the Internet.

Sprint's Terms of Service, updated June 1, 2003 included a mandatory arbitration clause requiring customers to submit any claims against Sprint or its employees to arbitration in lieu of suit. Sprint’s Terms of Service also included a disclaimer that customers were free to cancel their service if they did not agree to the amended Terms. The disclaimer was silent as to Sprint's standard $200 early termination fee.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

Briceno sued Sprint for invasion of privacy and for disclosure of electronic communications under Chapter 934 of the Florida Statutes. Sprint then filed a Motion to Compel Arbitration in accord with the company's standard "Terms and Conditions of Service." Sprint claimed that Plaintiff was given the "Terms and Conditions of Service" when she initially purchased her phone and was notified of changes to the Terms via large print on plaintiff's June, 16, 2003 service invoice.

The trial court noted that while some evidence of procedural unconscionability existed (regarding Sprint's $200 early termination fee) there was no evidence as to substantive unconscionability. The trial court granted Defendant's Motion to Compel Arbitration. Plaintiff appealed.

Appellate Court Proceedings Edit

On appeal, the Third District Court affirmed the trial court's decision, applying Kansas law as dictated in the contract’s choice of law clause. The Court also affirmed the trial court's decision to compel arbitration pursuant to Sprint’s Terms of Service. The court reasoned that the contract was not unconscionable, nor did Sprint attempt to hide its "Terms of Service" from its customers.

On appeal, Briceno denied that she was given the Terms when she first purchased her Sprint phone. She further claimed that she did not pay attention to the notice of revised terms on her monthly statement because it was "not important" to her and that she never read any of the Terms, though she saw the "Terms and Conditions of Service" internet link on the Sprint website.

The appellate court noted that, under Kansas law, "[u]nless the provision in question is, under the circumstances, so outrageous and unfair in its wording or its application that it shocks the conscience or offends the sensibilities of the court, or is against public policy, it must be enforced."[1] The court reasoned that none of Sprint’s Terms of Service "shocked the judicial conscience" and further that a literate and educated customer's failure to properly read the terms of a contract to which she has ample access, does not render that contract unconscionable. Therefore, the arbitration clause contained in the contract was valid and enforceable.

References Edit

  1. Adams v. John Deere Co., 13 Kan.App.2d 489, 774 P.2d 355, 357 (1989) (full-text).

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