Judge Slashes RIAA's $675,000 File Sharing Award To $67,500

Judge Slashes RIAA's $675,000 File Sharing Award To $67,500

A federal judge yesterday bench slapped the Recording Industry of America, calling a jury’s $675,000 verdict against file sharer Joel Tenenbaum both eye-popping and unconstitutional. The judge struck a strikingly populist tone in reducing the verdict to $67,500, arguing that the same legal reasoning that protects large corporations from excessive punitive damages also protects “ordinary people” like Tenenbaum. [More]

Snow Thrower Wheels Still Exploding 4 Years After Recall

Snow Thrower Wheels Still Exploding 4 Years After Recall

Recalls are imprecise and never fully successful, but how can they be improved? Jeff Gelles of the Philadelphia Inquirer took a look at the recall problem with snow throwers manufactured by a company called MTD, and sold under Yard Machines, Troy-Bilt, and Craftsman brands. The snow throwers used plastic wheel rims which sometimes exploded, so in 2006 the company cooperated with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and announced a recall. [More]

No Arbitration For Halliburton Sexual Assault Case, Court Holds

No Arbitration For Halliburton Sexual Assault Case, Court Holds

A woman who was allegedly raped while working for Halliburton/Kellogg Brown & Root in Iraq will have her civil claims heard in court, not by a company-selected arbitrator, thanks to a ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Arbitration May Be Dead, But Courts Offer Imperfect Alternative

Arbitration May Be Dead, But Courts Offer Imperfect Alternative

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.

30 Songs? That'll Be $675,000

30 Songs? That'll Be $675,000

A Boston jury yesterday ruled that file sharer Joel Tenenbaum would have to pay the Recording Industry of America $675,000 for sharing 30 copyrighted songs. The hefty award was all the more surprising because Tenenbaum was represented by a crack team of legal eagles from Harvard’s law school. The trial didn’t unfold nearly the way they planned…

Arbitration Fairness Act On "All Things Considered"

Arbitration Fairness Act On "All Things Considered"

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.

FBI Uses Wire Taps To Catch Mortgage Scammers

FBI Uses Wire Taps To Catch Mortgage Scammers

Most definitely copying what they’ve learned from the badass HBO show “The Wire,” law enforcement agencies are using wire taps to catch bad guys in the cleverest of ways.

"We Build In Middle Class Neighborhoods Because You Can't Afford To Fight Us"

"We Build In Middle Class Neighborhoods Because You Can't Afford To Fight Us"

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.

End Pre-Emption, Support The Medical Device Safety Act

End Pre-Emption, Support The Medical Device Safety Act

Two recent Supreme Court cases on federal pre-emption have made a mess of tort law, confusing and endangering consumers by holding that a patient who is injured by a dangerous drug can sue the manufacturer, but a patient injured by a dangerous medical device cannot. How this happened, and what to do about it, inside.

Mandatory Binding Arbitration Isn't Just Bad For Consumers, It's Bad For Small Businesses

Mandatory Binding Arbitration Isn't Just Bad For Consumers, It's Bad For Small Businesses

Mother Jones has an excellent writeup of Deborah Williams and Richard Welshans, the Maryland couple whose horrific experience with franchising a Coffee Beanery we’ve covered before. Inside, MoJo breaks down the arbitration award to show just how much more expensive arbitration is than litigation.

The Arbitration Fairness Act Is In The House

The Arbitration Fairness Act Is In The House

The Arbitration Fairness Act, which will ban binding mandatory arbitration clauses from consumer, employment, and franchise contracts, was reintroduced in the House yesterday.

Mandatory Binding Arbitration: The Worst Choose Your Own Adventure Ever

Mandatory Binding Arbitration: The Worst Choose Your Own Adventure Ever

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.

RIAA To Stop Suing File Sharers

RIAA To Stop Suing File Sharers

The Wall Street Journal and Ars Technica are reporting that the RIAA has announced a fairly dramatic change in its strategy to fight piracy.

Lawsuit Says Verizon's Text Message TV Show Contests Are "Illegal Gambling"

Lawsuit Says Verizon's Text Message TV Show Contests Are "Illegal Gambling"

A class-action lawsuit has been filed in California against Verizon and several third-party companies, alleging that they promoted illegal gambling by enticing customers to pay to enter contests in which there was an “infinitesimally” small chance of winning, reports RCRWireless. “The suit centers on 99-cent charges levied on wireless consumers who played contests associated with popular TV shows like ‘Deal or No Deal’ and ‘Sole Survivor.’” The plaintiffs claim that the contests were less promotional sweepstakes than “illegal lotteries designed to generate revenues far in excess of the value of the cash awarded.”

Vonage CSR: "Customer Lacks The Courage To Stay With Us Due To Litigation"

ber-lawyers. The CSR explained as he typed that he was listing Tony’s reason for canceling as: “Customer… lacks… the… courage… to… stay… with… us… due… to… litigation.” Tony’s letter to Vonage, after the jump:

The Chinese Poison Train Is Impervious To Lawsuits

The Chinese Poison Train Is Impervious To Lawsuits

Don’t try to sue the Chinese Poison Train. It won’t work. American victims of tainted Chinese products have found it nearly impossible to litigate against companies based in China. There are roadblocks at every step in the process: Americans can only sue Chinese companies that do business in the U.S.; phantom companies that exist only on paper refuse to hand over key documents; and, even if a consumer can win a default judgment, no treaty compels China to respect rulings from U.S. courts. From the Washington Post:

Walmart Loses Labor Suit

Walmart Loses Labor Suit

Yesterday, a jury of its peers found Walmart guilty of forcing workers to toil through rest breaks and slave extra hours without pay, a violation of Pennsylvania labor law.

Can You Hear Me Whisper Now?

n marquee boldface, a revised Verizon customer agreement arrived in customer’s email boxes last night, screamed that contract language was changed as part of settling a class-action lawsuit and that, “UNLESS YOU TELL US THAT YOU PREFER YOUR EXISTING CONTRACT LANGUAGE, HOWEVER, THIS NEW CUSTOMER AGREEMENT WILL REPLACE YOUR EXISTING CONTRACT LANGUAGE.”