Another Victory Against Unfair Arbitration Provisions

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Here is an important press release related to a recent decision striking down a class action ban in an arbitration provision.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Deborah Mathis, Communications Director, at (202) 797-8600 Ext. 246
PAYDAY LENDER’S CLASS ACTION BAN STRUCK DOWN IN FLORIDA
Public Justice, the Washington-based national public interest law firm, helped score a victory for Floridians this week when a Palm Beach County Circuit Court opened the door to payday loan customers who want to sue usurious lenders on a class action basis.

McKenzie Check Advance, which provides check cashing services and payday loans in more than 200 stores across the country, had attempted to force customers with claims to go into individual arbitration in lieu of a class action in court or class arbitration. But Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Maass found that enforcement of the class action ban embedded in McKenzie’s loan agreements effectively meant no claims would be brought against the lender because individual claims are typically too expensive for customers to pursue. The court’s ruling voids the class action ban in McKenzie’s arbitration clauses.

“Judge Maass saw through the payday lender’s smoke screen to the truth: corporations should not be allowed to gut Florida’s consumer protection laws in the fine print of contracts just because a given consumer can read,” said Paul Bland, a Public Justice attorney who argued the case on behalf of plaintiffs Tiffany Kelly and Wendy Betts. “The facts made it obvious that this payday lender’s contract would undermine important consumer protection statutes passed by the Florida legislature, and Judge Maass did the right and courageous thing by refusing to enforce the illegal part of the contract.”

In addition to Bland, the legal team included Ted Leopold of Ricci~Leopold in Palm Beach; Clay Yates of Port St. Lucie; Christopher Casper of Tampa; Richard A. Fisher of Tennessee; and Public Justice Waters & Kraus Fellow Amy Radon. Leopold is a member of the Public Justice Foundation Executive Committee and Fisher is a member of the Public Justice Foundation Board.

The victory was part of Public Justice’s Access to Justice Campaign and Class Action Preservation Project.

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Public Justice (formerly Trial Lawyers for Public Justice) is America’s public interest law firm. Dedicated to using trial lawyers’ and other attorneys’ skills and resources to advance the public good, Public Justice is supported by – and can call on — a nationwide network of more than 3,000 of the nation’s top lawyers to pursue precedent-setting and socially significant litigation. It has a wide-ranging litigation docket in the areas of consumer rights, worker safety, civil rights and liberties, toxic torts, environmental protection, and access to the courts. Public Justice is the principal project of The Public Justice Foundation, a not-for-profit membership organization headquartered in Washington, DC, with a West Coast office in Oakland, California. The Public Justice web site address is www.publicjustice.net.

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