September 15, 2005

Jenner & Block recently notched a key victory for Dell Corporation when an Illinois appellate court ruled that the “Terms and Conditions” of an online computer sale, which were available via hyperlink during the Internet-based purchase process, included a binding arbitration contract, and thus consumers were not entitled to sue Dell in court over alleged issues with their purchases.

A trial court in Madison County, Illinois had ruled that the online sales’ terms and conditions were not enforceable on several grounds, even though they were readily available to consumers for review by means of multiple hyperlinks.  The Illinois Court of Appeals for the 5th District reversed each of the trial court's rulings.  In particular, the appellate court noted that, regardless of whether the consumers clicked the hyperlink to view the terms and conditions, consumers were bound by its terms since it was readily available on most of the web pages presented to them during the multi-step online ordering process.

“Common sense dictates that because the plaintiffs were purchasing computers online, they were not novices when using computers,” the court said in its decision.  “A person using a computer quickly learns that more information is available by clicking on a blue hyperlink.”

Partner Matthew M. Neumeier, who is Co-Chair of Jenner & Block’s Class Action Litigation Practice and Products Liability and Mass Tort Defense Practices, led the Firm’s team representing Dell in this matter, which included Partners Jerold S. Solovy and Scott T. Schutte. Of Counsel Benjamin K. Miller and Associate Kathy A. Karcher.

The case is Dewayne Hubbert, et al. v. Dell Corporation.