A recent article written by Gibson Vance, President of the American Association for Justice, in the Huffington Post addressed the possibilities that consumers may face if Supreme Court decides in favor of AT&T in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion. An eample posed by Mr. Vance put the readers in a familiar situation – say a wireless company promises you a free phone and you go for it, but then get charged an undisclosed $30. One would think that is not free, right? But, would you really go to court to sue AT&T for that $30? Probably not. But when you think about everyone who is getting cheated out of that $30, it probably adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars each year that the company is making in unlawful gains due to its tricky advertising. There must be some way to hold the corporation accountable, right?
Well, an upcoming Supreme Court decision will determine what people can do when situations like the above arises. The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments for AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion and if it rules in favor of AT&T, corporations will be allowed to use abusive, take-it or leave-it forced arbitration clauses as a tool to wipe out class action lawsuits. These are the types of clauses that corporations insert into their contracts stating that all disputes will be resolved in forced, binding arbitration, on the corporation’s terms, and not in court. The implications for worker and consumer rights – including situations of product liability – are huge. The Arbitration Fairness Act of 2009, which was introduced in both the House and the Senate, would ban forced arbitration in employment, consumer, franchise, and civil right disputes. If the Supreme Court rules against the consumers, it will be up to Congress to make it right.
Follow the link to the Huffington Post to learn more about the SCOTUS decision on forced arbitration.