“Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice”

Another terrific investigation by the New York Times, this time analyzing and specifying why arbitration clauses sneaked into our commonplace contracts, like credit card agreements, are another corporate assault upon us individuals:

With a clause in complex contracts that few people read, corporations have insulated themselves from lawsuits and locked Americans into a system where arbitrators overwhelmingly favor business.

Source: Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice – The New York Times

It begins:

On Page 5 of a credit card contract used by American Express, beneath an explainer on interest rates and late fees, past the details about annual membership, is a clause that most customers probably miss. If cardholders have a problem with their account, American Express explains, the company “may elect to resolve any claim by individual arbitration.”

Those nine words are at the center of a far-reaching power play orchestrated by American corporations, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

I’m categorizing this post three ways: Koch Bros Final Solution to Democracy; Law, suits and order; and Lawsuits of the filthy rich, because what else is a corporation?

And when corporations avoid lawsuits by applying little-understood arbitration clauses, the lawsuits they’re avoiding are usually class action lawsuits. This term, the Supreme Court will be hearing a case involving class action lawsuits. That is, whether courts and corporations can further limit the equalizing potential of class action lawsuits.

These cases, as I see it, are “equalizing” as unions are equalizing: they allow relatively powerless individuals who don’t by themselves have the money to pursue a  lawsuit, to band together and combine resources to negotiate or sue very powerful corporate entities.

And wouldn’t you know it? What other highly charged case will the Supremes be deciding this term? The fate of public unions.


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