Articles Posted in Arbitration

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We have known of the widespread perception that the NAF is beholden to debt buyers and credit card companies and now the behind the scenes revelations in a new lawsuit are shocking. It is much worse that we thought.

We will post the pdf of the complaint filed by the Attorney General of Minnesota Lori Swanson but for now here are some exerpts:

1. Just about every American has a credit card. The credit card companies often require-deep in the fine print of the consumer agreement-that the consumer forfeit his or her right to have any dispute resolved by a judge or jury. Instead, the agreements often require that any disputes be resolved exclusively through a private system of binding arbitration-and frequently through the National Arbitration Forum. The Forum represents to the public, the courts, and consumers that it is independent, operates like an impartial court system, and is not affiliated with any party. The consumer does not know that the Forum works alongside creditors behind the scenes-against the interests of consumers-to convince creditors to place mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses in their customer agreements and to appoint the Forum as the arbitrator of any disputes that may arise in the future. The Forum does this so that creditors will file arbitration claims against consumers in the Forum, thereby generating revenue for it.

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The CL&P always produces good work and this article is particularly interesting as it shows some seeming contradictions between past and current writings of one of arbitration’s biggest supporters. Read the article yourself and keep your eyes open as it seems that the arbitration zealots have finally over-reached so much that Congress may be inclined to step in and take some much needed action for consumers….

Another resource for you is to join our Facebook Fan Page – Alabama Consumer Protection Attorneys where we share useful information about the same types of issues that we cover in this blog.

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We are not fans of arbitration but courts have at least recently made it more tolerable by allowing class actions to proceed within arbitration. This news article is very intriguing, as it shows an arbitrator has certified a class action within arbitration.

Here is an excerpt:

“This ruling is a tremendous victory for Verizon Wireless subscribers,” said Scott Bursor, counsel for the plaintiffs. “After four years of extremely hard-fought litigation in several courts and in arbitration, this ruling ensures that Verizon customers who have been charged illegal early termination fees will have an opportunity to prove their claims on a class-wide basis and to seek a refund of nearly a billion dollars worth of illegal charges.”

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Ron Burdge has two posts on problems with the 2008 Honda Accord and then with Hyundais in general. We recommend both of these posts to you. In the first, Ron discusses the surprisingly growing problem with the 2008 Honda Accord. We normally think of Hondas as being wonderful cars from a reliability standpoint but there are reports of growing problems that you should be aware of if you are considering buying the new Honda Accord or if you have one.

Secondly, and this is truly a serious problem, Hyundai is requiring that all buyers waive their right to litigation in a court and instead agree to arbitration. We like Ron’s simple and direct advice – don’t buy a Hyundai. Well said.

If you think you may have bought a lemon, contact us or another good consumer lawyer to get advice on what you should do to resolve the situation.

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We have discussed in some detail the problems with mandatory arbitration for Alabama consumers. Paul Bland of Public Justice alerted us to an article in the L.A. Times that we had missed dealing with movement in Congress to protect consumers from having to deal with mandatory arbitration.

Here are some excerpts of this well written and balanced article:

Critics of the provisions say they deny consumers and employees a basic American principle: the right to go to court.

“People from all walks of life — employees, investors, homeowners, those enrolled in HMOs, credit card holders and other consumers — often find themselves strong-armed into mandatory arbitration agreements,” said Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.), who is sponsoring one of the measures aimed at making arbitration voluntary rather than mandatory.

Continue reading

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Several times in the recent weeks courts have limited the ability of companies to forbid class actions in arbitration agreements. You can read about one a few days ago here which discusses the recent opinion by the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

Finally, you can read a great article by the Consumer Law & Policy Blog (Scott Nelson) about the Eleventh Circuit (which covers Alabama) decision in Dale v. Comcast. As Scott Nelson opens his post,

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has become the latest court to hold that an arbitration clause that contains a waiver of a consumer’s right to bring a class action may be unconscionable if its application would effectively prevent consumers from vindicating their rights.

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