Consumer Alert: Forced Arbitration Request Granted to AT&T by U.S. Supreme Court

You may not be aware they you have willingly signed an arbitration agreement hidden in many contracts. Arbitration agreements mandate if you have a dispute with a company, whether it is a nursing home, a bank account, a cell phone company, a rental agency etc. you will submit to an independent arbitration board that will decide your case and not a jury. They are called binding mandatory arbitration clauses. A company involved in wrongdoing does not want to open its documents to your attorney as required in preparation for trial so companies often push for arbitration agreements in contracts.

On Wednesday, April 27, the U.S. Supreme Court in AT&T v. Concepcion granted a request by AT&T to use fine print of contracts to bar consumers from joining a class-action lawsuit. Consumers can be forced into arbitration and barred from holding a company accountable for misdeeds, greed, fraud, or reckless behavior. A class action lawsuit allows people to band together to obtain justice in a courtroom in a way they would never be able to afford as an individual. Now a company that defrauds a large number of customers is insulated from liability. Public Citizen has been working with members of Congress to end forced arbitration.

Under mandatory arbitration agreements, there is no right to appeal and nothing will ever be uncovered about the misdeeds of those who wrote the contract. Mandatory arbitration slants the favor to the side of business. As Public Citizen found when it looked at data from National Arbitration Forum, in California cases, 94 percent of arbitrators ruled in favor of the business that hired them.

The attorneys at the Farah & Farah law firm believes losing your right to go to court puts the consumer on the losing end of any dispute. As an informed consumer read carefully any contract and inform the business you will not sign an arbitration agreement.

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