Lending Tree Inc. and mortgage information aggregator Best Rate Holdings LLC convinced a federal judge to send a lawsuit over excessive texts from automatic texting systems to an arbitrator.
John Temple said he was just looking for information on an advertised one-percent mortgage loan for veterans when he gave his contact information to Best Rate’s website. The company connects consumers with third-party banks and lenders like Lending Tree, according to the Dec. 27 opinion from the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Temple received multiple automated text messages from Best Rate and Lending Tree, even after replying “STOP” when prompted by the auto-dialing system. He filed a putative class action suit, claiming a single violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
The court sent the dispute to arbitration Dec. 27, concluding the link to Best Rate’s terms and conditions was conspicuously placed above the “Get Quote” button. Temple was therefore reasonably on notice of the arbitration clause contained therein, the court said.
Temple argued that he agreed to hand over his contact information to a single website, not to be inundated with unwanted text messages. But the court disagreed because the basic premise of the website is to connect consumers and providers.
Temple was clearly seeking to “learn more” about available mortgages, the court said. He had to scroll past a notice that his contact information would be shared with outside lenders, the court said.
The court also sent Temple’s TCPA claim against Lending Tree to arbitration, even though Lending Tree wasn’t a party to the arbitration agreement.
The subject matter of Temple’s claim against Lending Tree rises out of the terms and conditions Temple agreed to with Best Rate, the court said. Also, Temple “reasonably should have known” that third parties would be pulled into his request for mortgage information, the court said.
The case will be stayed pending the course of arbitration.
Woodrow & Peluco LLC and the Law Office of Ryan S. Shipp PLLC represent Temple. Barnett, Bolt, Kirkwood, Long & Koche P.A. and Kilpatrick, Townsend & Stockton LLC represent Best Rate and Lending Tree.
The case is Temple v. Best Rate Holdings LLC, M.D. Fla., No. 8:18-cv-176-T-36JSS, 12/27/18.