Stacking the Deck of Justice

Did you read the NYT this weekend? If so, you probably saw their article “Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice” or the follow-up, “In Arbitration, a ‘Privatization of the Justice System.'” These are parts I & II of a series called “Beware the Fine Print.”

Journalists Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Robert Gebeloff, and Michael Corkery examine the world of forced arbitration. The story begins by highlighting the clauses in the fine print:

On Page 5 of a credit card contract..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.

As we’ve covered previously, forced arbitration is a corporate tool to circumnavigate the justice system, keeping businesses exempt from liability in case of wrongdoing. “By inserting individual arbitration clauses…,” the NYT continues, companies “bar people from joining together in class-action lawsuits, realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices.”

The NYT uncovers many of the unscrupulous practices that stack the deck against consumers: companies have paid employees to testify in their favor, charging exorbitant amounts for the hearings, and the arbitrators hand-selected by the companies have “twisted or outright disregarded the law” in orde to find favorable outcomes for the companies.

Be sure to read the full series to better see how “from cradle to grave” Americans are signing away their constitutional right to a trial.

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