Americans have realized more than ever the importance of holding negligent corporations accountable. And a movement is afoot to help make this a reality: banning pre-dispute mandatory binding arbitration clauses.
While that sounds like a complicated, legalese term, Americans actually see these clauses every day. Mandatory binding arbitration clauses are hidden in the fine print of everything from cell phone, credit card, employment agreements, and nursing home care contracts. Just by taking a job or buying a product or service, consumers and employees are forced to give up their right to take their case to court if they are harmed by a corporation.
Instead, any dispute must be decided in arbitration by an arbitrator that is usually chosen by the corporation. Not exactly fair, is it?
Americans clearly oppose the use of forced arbitration clauses. A poll released at an April 29th event by the Fair Arbitration Now coalition shows that six in ten likely voters oppose the use of mandatory binding arbitration clauses in employment and consumer contracts.
This morning’s Shreveport Times profiled Tim Gilbert, who unknowingly signed away his right to court and was forced into arbitration after their new home needed $200,000 in repairs due to faulty construction.
"Nothing right happened in our situation," Tim Gilbert said. "We were left holding hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs to our home and related court costs and arbitration fees. "It is unfair that people have to practically sign over their rights when agreeing to arbitration, he said.
Last month’s event also featured several people who have been victimized by forced arbitration clauses. William Kurth, a World War II veteran, was neglected by a nursing home as he suffered from malnutrition, pressure ulcers, and dehydration. These factors directly led to his death. The Kurth family has not been able to go to court because buried in the 50 pages of admissions forms was a forced arbitration clause. William’s son David told his story at the event:
The bipartisan Arbitration Fairness Act and Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act will help people like the Kurths and countless others that have seen how corporations abuse consumers and employees via forced arbitration clauses.