Class Action Lawsuits
The United States Supreme Court dealt a deadly blow to Americans seeking justice when faced with forced arbitration clauses. Its decision now permits corporations to give themselves immunity, whenever they cheat consumers/employees. By forcing arbitration and banning class action lawsuits, big corporations can get away with wrongs that affect huge numbers of consumers, especially if the amount of damages would not justify individual claims.
SCOTUS chose to ignore the blatant fact that numerous states consider provisions bans on class action lawsuits unconscionable. Such is the case in Washington State.
Here are some brief facts about the backgroung of AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion:
- Liza and Vincent Concepcion sued AT&T in 2006, alleging that the wireless carrier defrauded millions of customers in California by advertising phones as “free,” then tacking on an undisclosed $30 charge for the phone.
- If multiplied across all AT&T customers, the $30 charge would amount to millions of dollars in allegedly wrongful gains.
- AT&T sought to dismiss the case by invoking a forced arbitration clause containing a class-action ban that it had placed in the Concepcion’s contract.
- Both the California District Court and the Ninth Circuit rejected AT&T’s request, holding that the class-action ban was unconscionable under California law because it would exculpate the company from accountability for wrongdoing.
- Courts applying the contract law of 20 states have struck down class-action bans for the same reason – because they would function as a “get out of jail free” card for corporate wrongdoing.