In the Amazon Alexa cases, attorneys representing clients turned this feature of the arbitration system to their advantage. By filing claims en masse, the strategy left Amazon with a huge legal bill even before any cases were resolved. Just to hire the arbitrator and to get the process started for a single claim, Amazon cost about $ 2900.
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“For most companies, arbitration has always been part of an effort to avoid liability, not just to escape class action lawsuits,” said Travis Lenkner, a lawyer at Keller Lenkner, which represents consumers in Alexa-related claims. “This is the first company to turn its tail. Others may well do so. ”
Keller Lenkner has used a similar approach to challenge how DoorDash, the food delivery service, classified and compensated its employees. When the company filed thousands of arbitration claims on behalf of DoorDash workers, the company unsuccessfully argued in court that it would not be necessary to pay many of the original fees for the cases. A federal judge scolded DoorDash for what he said was an attempt to avoid the arbitration system.
Customers claim that Amazon’s entities, including Echo, broke the rules in states where people must give their consent to be admitted.
“When we looked at the case, we were convinced that most people are not aware that smart speakers are taking them up,” said Warren Postman, attorney general at Keller Lenkner on Alexa-related claims and other arbitration cases.
Amazon said that Echo technology was only meant to detect a selected “wake-up word”, or a word that triggers the device. The company said that customers could review and delete recordings at any time and could choose that the recordings were never saved.