Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Crockett, No. 12-3574 (6th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Crockett’s former law firm subscribed to a LexisNexis legal research plan that allowed unlimited access to certain databases for a flat fee. Subscribers could access other databases for an additional fee. According to Crockett, LexisNexis indicated that a warning sign would display before a subscriber used a database outside the plan. Years after subscribing, Crockett complained that his firm was being charged additional fees without any warning that it was using a database outside the Plan. LexisNexis insisted on payment of the additional fees. The firm dissolved. Crockett’s new firm entered into a LexisNexis subscription agreement, materially identical to the earlier plan; it contains an arbitration clause. Crockett filed an arbitration demand against LexisNexis on behalf of two putative classes. One class comprised law firms that were charged additional fees. The other comprised clients onto whom such fees were passed. The demand sought damages of more than $500 million. LexisNexis sought a federal court declaration that the agreement did not authorize class arbitration. The district court granted LexisNexis summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. “The idea that the arbitration agreement … reflects the intent of anyone but LexisNexis is the purest legal fiction,” but the one-sided adhesive nature of the clause and the absence of a class-action right do not render it unenforceable. The court observed that Westlaw’s contract lacks any arbitration clause.