While pundits were speculating on the Supreme Court’s shift to the left with its unexpected upholding of the healthcare law, major consumer groups were providing substantial evidence of the Supreme Court’s anti-consumer bias.  In comprehensive comments filed before the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB),  multiple organizations revealed that forced arbitration clauses stuffed into consumer bills provide corporations with nothing short of immunity from liability.  Such arbitration provisions were recently upheld by the Supreme Court’s business oriented majority, notwithstanding the 7th Amendment’s right to trial by jury. 

As detailed  in joint comments filed by the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) and the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC)),  as well as separate comments filed by Public Justice, arbitration clauses are astounding in how rigged they are against consumers, including: 

·       Loser pay provisions designed to ensure that any consumer who actually dares to arbitrate a claim faces the risk that the corporate defendant will seek thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees should the consumer fail to prevail; 

·       Secrecy provisions designed to ensure that if a consumer actually dares to arbitrate a claim and prevail, the consumer is gagged from telling other consumers. Better yet, if the consumer wants to challenge those provisions, only the arbitrator – not a court --can make that call. 

·       Choice of venue provisions designed to make sure that if, for example, you buy your coffee in Miami and have a dispute with the vendor, you have to arbitrate your claim in Seattle. 

·       Shortened statutes of limitation designed to grossly truncate the actual time the law permits a consumer to timely commence a claim. 

·       Fixed proceedings, designed to make sure that if the consumer can overcome every roadblock on his way to arbitration, then the actual arbitration company will give special treatment to business clients that incorporated arbitration clauses, going so far as to even refuse to assign arbitrators to cases who have rendered pro-consumer decisions in the past. 

As these studies make clear, arbitration clauses are explicitly designed to suppress a consumer’s pursuit of any claim at all and render corporations immune from liability. Make yourself a consumer who counts and help us fight this violation of your constitutional rights.