Arbitration and other videos

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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Ban on Class Waivers in Consumer Finance Arbitration Coming Soon?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proposed a rule to ban class waivers in arbitration agreements.

As the CFPB summarizes:

First, the proposed rule would prohibit covered providers of certain consumer financial products and services from using an agreement with a consumer that provides for arbitration of any future dispute between the parties to bar the consumer from filing or participating in a class action with respect to the covered consumer financial product or service. Second, the proposal would require a covered provider that is involved in an arbitration pursuant to a pre-dispute arbitration agreement to submit specified arbitral records to the Bureau.

Hat tip to Opal Nicole Smith

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Nursing Home Arbitration

Will courts enforce arbitration agreements covering wrongful death claims? Generally, yes, if the patient signed the agreement. But what if a family member signed on the patient's behalf? The New York Times discusses: Plaintiffs' lawyers "argued that unless family members had power of attorney, they lacked the authority to agree to arbitration." This argument often works: "Appeals courts across the country have been throwing out arbitration agreements signed by family members of nursing home residents." Basically an agency law question, although with undertones of unconscionability.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Friday, December 25, 2015

Class Waivers in Consumer Arbitration Agreements

A "class waiver" is a contract clause requiring disputes to be resolved individually rather than in a class action. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau plans to prohibit class waivers in consumer financial services arbitration agreements. Adding fuel to this fire is yet another NY Times article portraying aggressive businesses preying on vulnerable consumers and then depicting the class action as the only practical redress for consumers -- squelched by the dreaded arbitration clause.

The most recent article: "By inserting arbitration clauses into the fine print of consumer contracts, they have found a way to block access to the courts and ban class-action lawsuits, the only realistic way to bring a case against a deep-pocketed corporation."

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Arbitration Clauses in Credit Cards Not Antitrust Violation

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the trial court's ruling that the card issuers' "final decision to adopt class-action-barring clauses was something the issuing banks hashed out individually and internally", not collusively.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Chamber of Commerce Pushes Back Against CFPB on Arbitration

Today's NY Times reports:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others have said the [CFPB]’s findings do not support its proposed rules. “By ignoring its own data that clearly shows major deficiencies with court-based litigation and disregards the real-world advantages of arbitration, the C.F.P.B. has demonstrated its bias for trial lawyers over average Americans,” Mr. Webb, of the chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, said.
Considerable sums of money are at stake. Late last month, the bond-rating firm Moody’s Investors Service warned that if enacted, the bureau’s proposed rule might leave companies more vulnerable to class actions that could “force changes to company practices that cut into revenues” or “draw regulatory scrutiny.”

Separately, the NY Times writes "the Justice Department issued a proposal to protect military service members from arbitration requirements. Earlier this month, Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota and a longtime opponent of arbitration, renewed his push for Congress to pass a bill he introduced this year that would prevent companies from requiring employees to go to arbitration."

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

NY Times Critical of Religious Arbitration

NY Times explains "For generations, religious tribunals have been used in the United States to settle family disputes and spiritual debates. But through arbitration, religion is being used to sort out secular problems like claims of financial fraud and wrongful death."

Some examples: "Customers who buy bamboo floors from Higuera Hardwoods in Washington State must take any dispute before a Christian arbitrator, according to the company’s website. Carolina Cabin Rentals, which rents high-end vacation properties in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, tells its customers that disputes may be resolved according to biblical principles. The same goes for contestants in a fishing tournament in Hawaii."

Good commentary on the NY Times articles by North Carolina Law Professor Mark Weidemaier

Sunday, November 1, 2015

NY Times Keeps Criticizing Adhesive Arbitration Agreements

Today's criticism goes beyond yesterday's criticism in arguing that the process of arbitration is biased in favor of businesses and against individual consumers and employees.



The Times asserts that arbitration’s “rules tend to favor businesses, and judges and juries have been replaced by arbitrators who commonly consider the companies their clients.” That’s quite a strong allegation and one that I think most arbitrators would dispute. Arbitrators are supposed to be neutral and a ground for vacating an arbitration award is evident partiality of the arbitrator.

Good commentary on the NY Times articles by North Carolina Law Professor Mark Weidemaier

Saturday, October 31, 2015

NY Times Attacks Adhesive Arbitration Agreements as Defeating Class Actions

Today's article describes the "soaring number of" arbitration clauses in consumer and employment contracts as the "center of a far-reaching power play orchestrated by American corporations"" "to circumvent the courts and bar people from joining together in class-action lawsuits, realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices."

Gee, I thought no longer doing business with companies that displease me was another option that's been working well.

Seriously, class actions seem to me a mixed bag for consumers, especially consumers who don't realize they're being damaged by sometimes-complex "illegal or deceitful business practices," so I'm skeptical of both progressives who say class actions are the only thing protecting us from disaster and businesses who say class actions are a disaster.

I don't believe the Times article cites any data suggesting consumers fare worse in arbitration than in individual (as opposed to class) litigation.

More on arbitration and class actions

Good commentary on the NY Times articles by North Carolina Law Professor Mark Weidemaier

Friday, October 23, 2015

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Criticizes Arbitration Clauses Reducing Class Actions

CFPB Director Richard Cordray said pre-dispute arbitration clauses “are often buried deeply in the fine print of many contracts for consumer financial products and services, such as credit cards and bank accounts. Companies use them, in particular, to block class action lawsuits, providing themselves with a free pass from being held accountable by their customers in the courts. Companies have been able to use these obscure clauses to rig the game against their customers to avoid group lawsuits.”

Alan Kaplinsky responds: “the data in the CFPB’s arbitration study ... demonstrates that most consumers derive no benefit from class action litigation.  The threat of a class action (presumably the ‘leverage’ Director Cordray is referring to) adds nothing but a huge layer of expense in defending these largely meritless lawsuits, benefiting only plaintiffs’ attorneys.”