Stacking the Deck of Justice?

The New York Times is publishing an investigative series on consumer arbitration, which should interest everyone, including employment folks who are on both sides of the arbitration v. litigation issue when it comes to discrimination cases and class actions.

Joker, Cards, Card Deck, Casino, Poker

In “Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice” (11/1/15) the Times reported that with respect to, for example, credit card company agreements, “[i]f cardholders have a problem with their account, [one card company] explains, the company ‘may elect to resolve any claim by individual arbitration.’

However, the Times says that “Those nine words are at the center of a far-reaching power play orchestrated by American corporations, an investigation by The New York Times has found.  By inserting individual arbitration clauses into a soaring number of consumer and employment contracts, companies like American Express devised a way to circumvent the courts and bar people from joining together in class-action lawsuits, realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices.”

Justice, Court, Fairness, Lawsuit, Scale

But there are two sides to this, at least according to Lisa Rickard, President of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, who claims that the Times series “is a one-sided view of arbitration and class-action lawsuits that parrots the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ talking points. … Arbitration provides consumers with a fairer, simpler, cheaper and faster way of resolving disputes, and one with greater potential benefits to individual consumers.”

Anyone care to add their two cents to this significant issue?


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Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]