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DeFontes v. Dell, Inc.

Supreme Court of Rhode Island
984 A.2d 1061 (2009)


Facts

Mary DeFontes brought a class action suit on behalf of purchasers (plaintiffs) of Dell computers and service contracts. The plaintiffs argued that Dell Computer Corporation (Dell), its subsidiaries, and service providers (defendants) improperly collected a tax on the service contracts. The defendants moved to stay the proceedings and compel arbitration as required by the terms and conditions agreement. The agreement specifically provided that by accepting delivery, the purchaser agreed to all terms. The document did not state that the purchaser could reject the terms by returning the computer, but did provide that the customer could return the computer if not satisfied. Dell argued that the plaintiffs could have reviewed the terms on the website, the invoice, or in the packaging. The hearing justice denied the defendants’ motion and found that the opportunities to review the terms and conditions were insufficient to give rise to a contractual obligation. The defendants appealed to the Supreme Court of Rhode Island.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Williams, C.J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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