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Consumers Losing Right to Sue Corporation


Guest American4Progress
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Guest American4Progress

One of corporate America's most common and abusive assaults on workers and consumers is a practice known as "forced arbitration." Before many banks, cell phone companies, employers, or even nursing homes will do business with a consumer, worker, or patient they force that individual to sign away their right to sue the company in a real court. Instead, they require that any disputes be brought in a secretive, privatized arbitration system that overwhelming favors corporate parties. This privatized justice system exists solely because the Supreme Court allowed it to exist in a series of opinions stretching back into the 1980s, and the Court's conservatives expanded corporate power to force consumers into arbitration as recently as last June. This term, in a case called AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, the justices will decide whether corporations can also force consumers to sign away their right to bring a class-action lawsuit before the arbitrator in addition to forcing consumers into a privatized justice system. If the Court sides with the corporate party in this case, it would enable corporations to break the law a few dollars at a time -- because class action suits are often the only way to hold a company accountable when it inflicts a small-dollar injury on hundreds or thousands of people.

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