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Brett Emison
Brett Emison
Attorney • (800) 397-4910

Big Business: Arbitration For You, Court System For Us

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AT&T wants customer to arbitrate, but it wants access to courtsBig business, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other anti-justice groups, cheered the US Supreme Court decision in AT&T v. Concepcion. That decision cleared the way for corporations to impose anti-justice mandatory arbitration clauses in consumer contracts for everything from cell phone service, to rental car agreements, airline tickets. Nearly every consumer transaction could be affected by the decision.

As I wrote after the decision was issued:

The AT&T v. Concepcion decision is seen by many as a license to steal for major US corporations. What recourse does one have if a company steals $1.00 from 10 million people? Or $25? Or $50? Or $500?
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The answer, quite plainly, is none. Who then is to uphold justice if corporations can simply contract away accountability and rule of law?

AT&T argued that arbitrations save all parties time and money. But, as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

Now the ABA Journal reports that AT&T is trying to unring the bell, filing 8 federal lawsuits seeking to block customer arbitrations that could prevent a potential merger with T-Mobile. If arbitration is more efficient, costs less and is "better" than the civil justice system enacted by our founders and protected under the 7th Amendment, why isn’t AT&T proceeding with arbitration?

[T]he American Arbitration Association has already overruled AT&T’s objections and moved forward with the arbitration process. "AT&T’s filing of these lawsuits appears to be an act of desperation, since AT&T now realizes it faces substantial likelihood that one or more of these arbitrators will stop the takeover from happening," [said a lawyer involved in the case]

– Reuters

The truth: AT&T’s actions say it all. AT&T wants to force its customers to arbitrate because that’s better for AT&T, but AT&T seeks justice, it ignores arbitration agreements and wants access to the courts.

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[More on your 7th Amendment rights]

(c) Copyright 2011 Brett A. Emison