Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Arbitrating Disputes, Denying Justice

New York Times Editorial: Arbitrating Disputes, Denying Justice

“In recent years, America’s corporations have created a private system for handling disputes that benefits them greatly while denying consumers their day in court.” So states the Editorial Board of The New York Times in a follow-up to their groundbreaking three-part expose on forced arbitration clauses shunting consumer disputes into often-unbalanced negotiation outside any court of law.

The editorial further notes that these forced arbitration clauses, requiring consumer accession before the consumer is permitted to even engage in business with many large corporations, also preclude aggrieved parties “from pressing their claims as a group in a class action, often the only practical way for individuals to challenge corporations.”

The insult-after-injury, as The Tiimes further notes, is that “it is extremely difficult to avoid or get out of forced-arbitration clauses and class-action bans, particularly since they were upheld by two misguided Supreme Court decisions in 2011 and in 2013.”

The Times cites numerous examples of this distorted playing field for relations between consumers and corporations, noting

“From 2010 to 2014, corporations prevailed in four out of five cases where they asked federal judges to dismiss class-action lawsuits and compel arbitration, according to The Times‘s articles. People who were blocked from going to court as a group usually dropped their claims entirely, in part because class actions are often the only affordable way to file lawsuits. If successful, they can deter future corporate wrongdoing because even small payouts, multiplied over all similarly mistreated customers, can be very large. Indeed, faced with arbitration, it appears that most people do not pursue remedies to their grievances at all.”

As if that weren’t bad enough,

“Even more disturbing, the shift away from the civil justice system has gone beyond disputes about money. Nursing homes, obstetrics practices and private schools increasingly use forced-arbitration clauses to shield themselves from being taken to court over alleged discrimination, elder abuse, fraud, hate crimes, medical malpractice and wrongful death.”

Read the full editorial on the New York Times website.

Lieff Cabraser advises consumers as well as businesses whether and how to pursue legal action to halt and obtain compensation for the deceptive practices of large corporations. With a blend of courage, superior legal skills, and high principles, we protect our clients’ interests and help them achieve their goals by winning highly-complex consumer protection lawsuits against those that have defrauded consumers.

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