The “credit union on steroids” has gone to mandatory binding arbitration for all disputes, removing customers’ ability to successfully sue them if things go wrong. Previously, USAA had arbitration as an option, but allowed members to opt out. Now, if you want to opt out of arbitration, you’ll have to close your accounts.
Last month, the Minnesota Attorney General brought an oppressive arbitration regime to its knees. Nation Arbitration Forum handled over 200,000 arbitrations per year. But many of those cases will end up in the 50 states’ district courts, where consumers may fare no better.
The arbitration rollback continues apace! Last Thursday, JPMorgan Chase announced it won’t send disputes to arbitration and is rethinking putting the clauses in its consumer contracts. Coming on the heels of news that NAF and AAA will stop arbitrating consumer credit card disputes, Creditcards.com wrote, “Two more supporting beams have crumbled and now, with astonishing speed, the entire edifice of the mandatory credit card arbitration system is collapsing.”
Thomas Kinkade calls himself the “Painter of Light,” and allegedly uses his “faith” to lure in investors to his gallery business. Now two former gallery owners have won a judgment from Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that forces Kinkade to abide by a 2007 arbitration decision that awarded the former owners $860,000 in damages and more than $1.2 million in attorneys’ fees and arbitration expenses. Ouchy.
The perils of forced arbitration and the need for the Arbitration Fairness Act were recently featured on an NPR piece. The story discusses the case of Jamie Leigh Jones, the former Halliburton employee who was gang raped in Iraq by her coworkers, then was sent to arbitration when she tried to sue her employer.
The House Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law is currently holding a hearing on forced arbitration and credit cards, appropriately titled “Federal Arbitration Act: Is the Credit Card Industry Using It To Quash Legal Claims?” Our friends at Public Citizen will be testifying. You can view (or at least listen to) the Real Player stream here.
Meet Michelle. We met Michelle at Arbitration Fairness Day and she told us about being forced into arbitration when she tried to get her poorly constructed home repaired. Now she’d like to share her story with you.
Mandatory binding arbitration, which corporations use to dodge accountability for their discrimination, negligence, or harassment, is a caricature of justice that offers no protection to consumers or employees. It’s also terrible for small business owners, as one couple found out.
We at Consumerist really hate mandatory binding arbitration, the faux-legal sucker punch that companies deliver when they screw up and you try to sue, and so should you. We’ve talked about its evils a lot, but no one can describe this legal abomination as well as the victims themselves, so this week we’ll let them speak.
The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of Diana Levine in Wyeth v. Levine. Levine, a musician, had her arm amputated when an anti-nausea drug was improperly administered in her artery, and sued the manufacturer for failing to warn of the risks on the drug’s label. Wyeth claimed that her case was pre-empted by federal law.
Mandatory binding arbitration agreements are bad for consumers for so many reasons that, unless you’re the victim of one, it’s hard to keep track of the various ways you can be screwed. So we’ve come up with this helpful illustration: a choose-your-own-adventure-styled trip through the arbitration process.
Justice has finally been served to the senior citizen who was not only ripped off on his trade-in vehicle (which is, frankly, to be expected), the dealership also got him to hand over his ATM card and just straight up stole $2000 from his bank account.