Thursday, June 11, 2009

Do You Realize You Sign Away Your Rights to Trial By Jury on a Regular Basis?

Approximately one year ago I blogged about Michael Stamenson - Merrill Lynch's number one salesman, who ended up pushing his county into bankruptcy because of his reckless investment advice - in an effort to illuminate how Binding Mandatory Arbitration heavily favors corporations, by taking away a customer or employee's right to a trial by jury or judge, and legally binds customers/employees into a one-sided, pre-emptive and non-consensual form of arbitration should they suffer the consequences of the corporation's product, service or employee.

The Supreme Court's approval of this method of solving corporate/customer disputes, gave banks and credit card companies their own system of "justice" where the corporation acts as judge and jury - the corporation picks the arbiter who will decide the outcome - in a private forum of the corporation's choice.

In other words, the consumer/employee blindly signs away his right to take legal action (mandatory binding arbitration clauses are hidden in the fine print, normally written with intent to obscure meaning), and this applies, even in the case of serious injury by a product, service, or, as in the case of Halliburton employee, Jamie Leigh Jones, who was brutally raped by several Halliburton employees over in Iraq, by employee. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt sums it up as the Supreme Court's "blind devotion to corporation arbitration schemes".

“A series of United States Supreme Court decisions have changed the meaning of the [Federal Arbitration] Act so that it now extends to disputes between parties of greatly disparate economic power, such as consumer disputes and employment disputes. As a result, a large and rapidly growing number of corporations are requiring millions of consumers and employees to give up their right to have disputes resolved by a judge or a jury, and instead submit their claims to binding arbitration.” -- (1)-S. 1782, Arbitration Fairness Act, Sec. 2 (1), 110th Cong. (2007)
It's impossible to escape the possible ramifications of this Supreme Court decision, which essentially wiped out corporate accountability. If you use credit cards, cell phones, own a house, have a job, have health insurance, have taken out a loan, rented a car, signed a contract with a nursing home, etc., you have agreed to what the National Association of Consumer Advocates call "take it or leave it" conditions. Overall, consumers lost 94 percent of the time.

The Arbitration Fairness Act of 2009, introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), will ensure that the decision to arbitrate be made voluntarily and after the dispute has arisen, so that corporations cannot manipulate the arbitration system in their favor.

The Arbitration Debate Trap How opponents of corporate accountability distort the debate on arbitration

Stop BMA coalition.


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