Users could click a link to view these legal documents, but the app did not require users. At no point did Kauders have to click the "I agree" button.
Three Uber drivers later refused Kauder's service because he was accompanied by a guide dog. Kauders sued Uber for illegal discrimination. In an early 2018 ruling, a judge ruled that Uber's Terms of Service required the Kauders case to go to arbitration. The arbitrator then ruled against Kauders, stating that the drivers are independent contractors and therefore Uber is not responsible for their actions.
"Wasn't a contract"
In the appeal proceedings, however, Kauders' lawyers argued that he had not consented to arbitration at all. On Monday, the Massachusetts Supreme Court accepted Kauders' argument that the mere mention of terms and conditions on a registration page was not enough to create a binding contract between Kauders and Uber.
"Uber's terms and conditions did not constitute a contract with the plaintiffs," the Supreme Court wrote (another woman had also sued Uber). The case was sent back to the lower court.
It is not clear whether Kauders will prevail in the lawsuit. It is possible that the court may come to the same conclusion as the arbitrator. However, the broader impact of the ruling is to alert companies that they cannot place users on restrictive terms by simply linking to those terms somewhere in the registration process of a website or app. To create a legally binding contract, a tech company actually presented the terms to the user and got them to agree to them.
The Supreme Court notes that Uber is taking a different approach to signing up new drivers. Before drivers can register, they have to press a button that says "YES, I agree" not just once but twice.
Many thanks to Ars reader Andrewb610 for drawing my attention to the judgment.