Amazon Wants Contract Courier’s Franchise Protection Suit Sent to Arbitration

Defendant Amazon Logistics Inc. (ALI) told a federal judge to send Fli-Lo Falcon LLC’s putative class action to arbitration last week. The plaintiff, a transportation and logistics company, has accused ALI of misrepresenting key terms of its “Delivery Service Partners” (DSP) program, including exaggerating what contract couriers can earn by partnering with Amazon.

April’s lawsuit explains that the DSP program offers small package couriers the chance to deliver for Amazon contingent on certain terms and conditions. Fli-Lo, a Wyoming-based courier, said that Amazon falsely promises DSPs earnings beyond what they actually make and forces them to use certain vendors and make specific capital investments. In addition, it says that Amazon further entices DSPs by offering them the ability to set their own schedules when it in fact exercises a high degree of control over their workflow.

The lawsuit states claims for breach of contract, fraud, and Washington state statutory claims under consumer and franchise protection laws.

In response, ALI sought to compel arbitration, arguing that Fli-Lo and two other DSP plaintiffs signed an agreement containing an arbitration clause that unequivocally requires them to arbitrate their case individually. 

Under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) the court must dismiss or stay the action until resolution by an arbitrator, ALI says. Additionally, the motion contends that Washington law “provides a further, independent basis for either dismissing or staying this action pending arbitration.” ALI specifies that the plaintiffs concede that the operative agreement is valid and enforceable, and indeed invoke and rely on it to assert claims under Washington law. 

The plaintiffs’ attempts to defy their contractual commitments are inconsequential as the arbitration clause is valid and enforceable, ALI says. “Courts have considered the enforceability of the very arbitration clause at issue here and have compelled arbitration of the same causes of action,” the motion explains, citing a state and a federal case.

Fli-Lo and the putative class are represented by Breskin Johnson Townsend PLLC and Kirby McInerney LLP. Amazon is represented by Byrnes Keller Cromwell LLP.