In Ruiz v. Moss Bros. Auto Group, Inc., a California Appellate Court recently denied a petition to compel arbitration containing an electronic signature. In Ruiz, plaintiff was employed by defendant Moss Bros. Auto Group. He filed suit for defendant’s failure to pay overtime and other wages. The defendant petitioned to compel arbitration citing a previous arbitration agreement containing an electronic signature. The court denied the petition, finding that defendant failed to establish the existence of an arbitration agreement. The trial court held the defendant could not prove that the electronic signature on the agreement was an “act attributable” to Ruiz.
Defendant appealed and the appellate court affirmed. The appellate court noted that defendant only provided a summary assertion that plaintiff was the person who electronically signed the 2011 agreement. The defendant failed to provide any explanation as to how the defendant reached that conclusion and the summary conclusion was inadequate to prove that the electronic signature was “the act of” Ruiz. The court wanted an explanation as to how Ruiz’s signature was placed on the arbitration agreement.
This is an important issue as many parties use electronic signatures on their agreements. It will be important to establish procedures and proof to authenticate those signatures.
Shannon B. Jones, Partner, firstname.lastname@example.org,/a>