Forced Arbitration: U.S. Chamber’s License to Steal

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For Immediate Release: October 23, 2013

Contact: Katie Gommel
American Association for Justice
202-965-6645
katie.gommel@justice.org

Forced Arbitration: U.S. Chamber’s License to Steal

New Primer Outlines How Forced Arbitration Eliminates Americans’ Rights

Washington, DC—Most Americans do not realize they have forfeited their legal rights until it is too late. Buried in the fine print of many contracts – from credit card and nursing home contracts to employee handbooks and online user agreements – are dangerous forced arbitration clauses that eliminate access to justice and replace it with a secretive, corporate tribunal.  The American Association for Justice released a new primer today detailing how the abusive practice of forced arbitration hurts American small businesses, consumers and employees and how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spearheading efforts to force arbitration on America. 

“The civil justice system provides a key incentive for corporations to act responsibly and prioritize safety. But the U.S. Chamber knows when consumers and small businesses lose access to the courts, corporations can get away with the worst,” said American Association for Justice President Burton LeBlanc.

The primer, License to Steal: How the U.S. Chamber Forced Arbitration on America, shines a spotlight on how forced arbitration clauses are routinely buried in the fine print of contracts and secretly abolish many of the safeguards the civil justice system provides. The new primer is being released the same day the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) is holding its annual summit to discuss ways to eliminate the ability of small businesses, employees and consumers to hold corporations accountable in court. 

“As with anything the U.S. Chamber does regarding the legal system, this event and its campaign to force arbitration on America serves one purpose: to help its corporate sponsors evade legal accountability when they harm and kill Americans,” added LeBlanc.

License to Steal points out a number of hidden dangers in forced arbitration.  One such example is the story of 86 year-old Mabel Strobel, who “won” her forced arbitration hearing against Morgan Stanley after the investment firm persuaded her to sell her property and use the money to buy unpredictable stocks with heavy sales charges. Strobel lost $281,729, but the arbitrator only awarded her $5,000, then charged her $10,350 in forced arbitration fees.

Additionally, Take Justice Back, the American Association for Justice’s grassroots campaign, is urging activists to protect their rights by asking Congress to support the Arbitration Fairness Act (S.878 / H.R.1844).  

Read the full report online here.

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