Tag Archives: Arbitration

America First is a Joke. Wall Street Wins Again, by Michael Krieger

A standard clause in many customers’ and employees’ contracts with financial institutions specifies that disputes will be settled by arbitration rather than conventional judicial processes. Arbitration is a game rigged in favor of the institutions. The Trump administration has just upended a regulation that banned forced arbitration clauses. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

I know I must sound like a broken record by now, but Wall Street owns the U.S. economy and until that’s dealt with, the American public will continue to be preyed upon voraciously and lawlessly by some of the most unethical parasites the world has ever seen. Obama was a historical disaster on this issue, coddling and protecting banker oligarchs every step of the way. Trump’s no different.

The latest evidence that things are getting even worse came last evening when the U.S. Senate voted to deliver Wall Street another gift on a silver platter.

Rather than summarize what happened, let’s turn to two of the best resources on such topics, journalist David Dayen and finance focused website Wall Street on Parade.

First, here are a few excerpts from David’s latest article published at The InterceptAfter Day of Feuding, Jeff Flake and Bob Corker Join Trump to Upend a Major Consumer Protection:

With national attention focused Tuesday morning on a mushrooming feud between President Trump and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., followed by a feud in the afternoon between Trump and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., the Senate gift-wrapped the biggest present Congress has so far bestowed upon Wall Street in the Trump era.

With a razor-thin margin, the Senate passed a resolution to nullify a signature regulation from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which banned forced arbitration provisions. Such clauses, tucked into the fine print of contracts that nobody reads, deny consumers the ability to contest claims through a class-action lawsuit, and can allow banks and other financial institutions to rip off their customers with virtual impunity.

To continue reading: America First is a Joke. Wall Street Wins Again

How Arbitration Clauses are Stripping American Citizens of Their “Right to Go to Court,” by Michael Krieger

Corporations are putting arbitration clauses in contracts, denying aggrieved customers access to courts and just as importantly, stopping class action suits that are one of the best remedies against corporate depredations. Michael Krieger highlights this under-the-radar phenomenon at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

By inserting individual arbitration clauses into a soaring number of consumer and employment contracts, companies like American Express devised a way 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.

Thousands of cases brought by single plaintiffs over fraud, wrongful death and rape are now being decided behind closed doors. And the rules of arbitration largely favor companies, which can even steer cases to friendly arbitrators, interviews and records show.

The sharp shift away from the civil justice system has barely registered with Americans. F. Paul Bland Jr., the executive director of Public Justice, a national consumer advocacy group, attributed this to the tangle of bans placed inside clauses added to contracts that no one reads in the first place.

“Corporations are allowed to strip people of their constitutional right to go to court,” Mr. Bland said. “Imagine the reaction if you took away people’s Second Amendment right to own a gun.”

– From yesterday’s New York Times article: Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice

I’ve followed the dangerous trend of the increased corporate use of arbitration clauses in contracts for several years now, and yesterday’s New York Times investigation into their civil liberties destroying nature, is one of the best pieces I’ve seen on the subject to date.

What’s so fascinating about this article, is it goes all the way back to the origins of the practice, during which lawyers representing big banks got together with Philadelphia attorney Alan S. Kaplinsky, to strategize on how best to write class-action bans into arbitration clauses. It also explains how current Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts had been actively petitioning the high court to uphold such bans while he was a corporate lawyer, and then led the way to a 5-4 decision to solidify the bans after becoming Chief Justice.

In practice, what these bans essentially achieve is to allow companies to nickel and dime consumers and their employees while leaving very little recourse available. While the individual infractions are generally minor financial burdens, when aggregated across a large number of victims, it can amount to billions of dollars.

To continue reading: How Arbitration Clauses are Stripping American Citizens of Their “Right to Go to Court”